Beloved - Aj Francis

I wasn’t hand-sewn or made lovingly with someone in mind; I was made along with countless others just like me, but it’s a lie to say I’ve never been loved. I was crafted, packaged, and shipped out to a store shelf, and bought by a woman with tired eyes and soft hands. I was taken home and given the greatest honor I could hope for; I was wrapped around a tiny, warm child, too small to function by herself. I was too big for her, so they wrapped me around her twice, leaving a little tail of extra fabric. Her hair had hardly grown in and her eyes were pressed shut, and I wondered if I was meant to protect her somehow. I wasn’t very firm, I was far too soft to stop any serious danger. But I held her in place, with her tiny arms pressed to her chest and her legs curled in. We were warm together, and I felt proud. 

I stayed at her side as she became less and less of a tiny child. I was a proud royal robe at times where she’d drape me over her shoulders and let me drag behind her as she walked the house. At other times, I was a hero’s cape, when she got excited from her cartoons and her father tied me loosely around her neck. These years, she gave me the only name I’ve ever known. ‘Bankey’. Not sophisticated, but the joy in her voice when she said it made me sure that was what I must be. I was Bankey. 

We spent nearly all our time together. She was growing a messy eater. I’d have to watch her throw her fits when she spilled something and I was to be taken away for cleaning; not a pleasant experience for either of us. But she grew older and more independent, as I hear all kids do. I adjusted to our farewells when she left for the bus and I was left on the chair, to be neatly folded and placed on her bed by ‘Mama’, ready to greet her when she returned. 

Sometimes I got to see new bedrooms with her. She’d pull out a large black case that she’d unzip and fill to the brim with her belongings, and she’d take me with her into the large traveling machine they use to go long distances. We’d share naps and I’d get to see the sky just out the window. Those were nice, and sometimes the temporary bedrooms had nice views. 

Apparently big kid school takes more of your time than the littler one. Some days she wouldn’t come home until the light in the sky had gone. Our time was reserved in the evenings, and sometimes she’d curl up with me and talk all night into something in her hand. In the mornings I’d watch her tie up her hair and work on her face from the comfort of our bed. But I was with her, and on sick days or late nights, she’d cocoon herself in my arms like old times, and we’d watch TV together. 

I’m not sure what happened, but it felt very sudden that one day she looked a whole lot like her mother; in that she was no longer so small. She looked a lot like adults. Of course, she always felt young, even if I no longer dragged on the floor the way I used to when we walked around the house. I could feel that I was worn down by age and use, and I was no longer the only one she’d rest with. When I went to be cleaned, I could see her resting, wrapped with another made of fresh, bright blue fabric. But they weren’t Bankey. I let myself be assured by that. 

One day, she pulled out that black case again. It was different this time, she had large bags as well. She was going somewhere, and it seemed she’d be taking a lot with her. She packed her things into it, many things. Her room felt empty when she began to wrap it up. It felt foreign and unfamiliar to be in such a naked room. She packed her favorite items in the bags, and then placed them all neatly by the door, as though they were to wait for her. Then she returned to me, in her desolate room, on her lonely bed, and she went to sleep. I held her that night. I wanted to be assured that, if this was our last night together, and she would disappear to some place I’d not see her again, that I hadn’t wasted our final hours. 

She woke early the next morning, before the light had shone in the window. She hated getting up early. I could see her search the bags with her fingers, recounting in her head to ensure she had everything. I was proud of her in that moment. From this distance, I could see exactly how big she’d gotten, and exactly how the same I’d remained. Everything about her had changed over time. She spoke differently, she wore different clothes, she’d gotten much different interests. I wondered if when she left, Mama would come and fold me and place me at the edge of the bed like she always does. I wondered how long I’d wait this time. 

But my girl stopped, smiling as something came to her. I watched as she returned to me, picking me up in her arms. She was smiling at me. She once more folded my edges into a compact shape, then carried me over to her case. She opened it up and I could see there was still a layer of space left in it. It was just big enough for me to fit, and that’s what I did. Atop a mound of rolled clothes, I sat in the darkness for a long time as we journeyed to this new place. It wasn’t as comfortable as her lap, but I suppose she was busy this time. No one was coming with her. She’d have to navigate by herself. She’s such a big girl now. 

Our new bedroom is smaller. The whole house is small. In fact, I’m not sure it’s a house at all. There’s another bed in the room, and another room with more beds beside it. Everything is contained in a small space, and there’s other people her age here with their own things. Our bed is thin, and she’s not too comfortable on it yet, but I can cover almost the whole thing. The people we live with think it’s very funny when we walk around together, but they’re very nice about it. Someone else here has their own sleeping friend like me as well. They’re not Bankey of course. 

My girl is very busy these days. Even when she’s home with me, she’s busy. Sometimes she drapes me over her chair as she works on a screen of some sort. I’m very proud of her. She works hard and sleeps harder. It must be tiring. She doesn’t need my protection anymore, she’s quite tough, as I’ve come to hear from some of her stories to her house friends, but still, she returns to me every night by choice. With my worn age, sometimes I feel more protected by her. Every night I get to hold my baby like I did when she was much smaller, and while she now has all her teeth, and no longer plays superhero in the living room, she’s still my girl, and I’m still her Bankey. 

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