Friday, 20 May 2011

Friday Flash - The Story of Aston

He couldn’t move, but he could still think. He thought a lot when he wasn’t being thrown around in the toy shop. The stuffed dog wanted to be carefully played with, and he wanted to be loved. Most of all, he wanted to be real, but even stuffed dogs possess a little common sense, and he knew he was only a toy. He once had the good fortune to be deposited in the video section by a small child, and he watched a movie that was being screened. In it, a marionette was turned into a real boy after riding in the stomach of a whale. Ever since then, the stuffed dog kept watch for the Blue Fairy, sure that she could help him.

He told some of the other toys, but they all laughed at him. He insisted the Blue Fairy was real, but they just called him names. He stopped talking after his tears matted the nylon fur around his plastic eyes. The stuffed dog kept his vigil alone, and tried to ignore their taunts. He especially wished the Blue Fairy would come at night. He almost missed the clamour and bustle of the shop when the customers were gone, and long shadows pawed the toys on their shelves. He sat in the dark, hoping with all of his little heart to see the tell-tale glow of the Fairy’s approach.

The stuffed dog sat in a wide box among the white rabbits. They were new to the store, and pleasant enough. He hadn’t mentioned the Blue Fairy to them.

“How cute!”

The stuffed dog looked up to see a young woman walking over to his box. A necklace around her throat spelled out the word ‘Icy’. Best of all, she wore a blue T-shirt and ripped blue jeans – even the paint on her eyelids was blue. The stuffed dog wanted to jump up and wag his tail, anything to get her attention. This must be the Blue Fairy!

She looked down, seeing the stuffed white rabbits. He willed her to look at him, the solitary brown dog in the box. The stuffed dog was the only one left in the whole shop – his brothers and sisters were bought weeks ago.

The stuffed dog’s heart jumped for joy when her hand closed around his soft tummy. She lifted him out of the box and played with his floppy ears. She spun around, waving him in the face of a young man with long hair.

“Isn’t he adorable?” she asked.

“You’ve got loads of toys, why do you want another one?” asked the boy.

“Aw, but he’s the only one left!”

“He?”

“Yes, he. He looks like a he. Aw, I can’t leave him on his own,” said the girl.

“It’s only a toy, put it back.”

“No, I can’t put him back. I’ll have raised his hopes by picking him up. If I put him back, I’ll upset him. I can’t do that.”

The boy rolled his eyes but ruffled the fake fur on the dog’s head.

“I suppose he is quite cute. What are you going to call him?”

The young woman looked around for inspiration. Her gaze spilled out of the open door just as a sleek silver car rolled past. Her face broke open in a wide smile as she looked down at the dog.

“Aston!”

The boy laughed, and they walked towards the bank of tills along one wall. Aston lay flopped over the crook of the young woman’s arm. She hadn’t pulled his ears or dangled him by his tail like the children did. She’d cuddled him.

The girl behind the till took the young woman’s money and shoved Aston head first into a plastic bag. The young woman glared at the girl, and pulled Aston out, putting him back in the bag the right way up. The boy fought a smile. Aston thought his heart might burst from happiness. This Blue Fairy couldn’t make him into a real dog, but he was real in her head, and that’s all that mattered.

* * *

I posted a photo of my writing space in the Friday Flash group on Facebook, and several people commented on "my editor", the stuffed dog sat on my desk. I've had Aston for a while now (longer than four years but less than six) and I thought I'd give him his own Friday Flash. This is essentially a fictional retelling of how I came across him, sat on his own in a big red box in Hamley's. I was with my flatmate at the time, and while I don't remember what we said word for word, the dialogue sums up the gist of it. And yes, I do put toys the right way up when sales assistant put them face first into plastic bags.

36 comments:

Sam said...

I thought I was the only person who did that! Put soft toys the right way up in plastic bags, that is. I also like my books bagged spine first, but that's a whole other story.

Great story, there's a lovely feeling of warmth about this piece, and Aston is very cute. I didn't know he was a dab hand at crosswords too.

Lori said...

So sweet. Reminds you how everything is magic and even objects get respect for the things they represent when you're a little one...

Icy Sedgwick said...

Sam - We bought a stuffed pig for my mam from Fenwicks (since named Francis, as in Bacon - my idea) and the sales assistant put him in upside down. My mam KNEW I was going to put him the right way up! Aston loves crosswords but he's better at sudoku.

Lori - Haha, I was about 23 when I got him! I still don't like showing favouritism for one toy over another in case they get jealous.

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

I'll have to get Aston to teach me how to do sudoku puzzles because I really can't figure it out. Lovely story! Really fetching and adorable, just like your subject.

Tony Noland said...

This is really cute, Icy. Love it.

Emma Newman said...

See, this is another reason I like you and Sam so much :) I do the same too. Sweet, sweet story!

Marisa Birns said...

An adorable story, Icy. Aston is very lucky to have found his Blue Fairy.

And you're lucky to have found such a smart editor :)

lmstull.com said...

Awww this was a precious story! What a lovely way to start my Friday. Great job, as always, Icy! And Happy Friday to Aston too :)

John Wiswell said...

Oh, that was a tremendous opening paragraph. I didn't even connect the photo to the story for one sentence, thinking it was about some poor paralyzed sap, probably a serial killer's victim.

What a nice Blue Fairy!

Jeffrey Hollar said...

Definitely a supremely sweet story. I have often wondered how supposedly inanimate objects view the world. Now I know. Bravo!!

Julie (O-kami) said...

I love it - I was almost in tears for the poor little guy, he was so lonely. Thanks for giving him a good home and a story all his own.

FARfetched said...

Aw, what a cute story. And our hero as the Blue Fairy, even!

Deb Rickard said...

Ah, lucky old Aston! I could actually FEEL his soft, matted nylon fur tummy, flopping over my arm. Lovely!

Michael A Tate said...

Very cute story, and its a lot of the personal and real details that really make this sparkle, like putting him rightside up in the bag. Well done

storytreasury said...

This is the cutest story! I always drop plush toys in head first. lol

Laura Eno said...

Ahhh...you're the Blue Fairy?! I love this story, Icy. I still have a floppy-eared dog and a bear on my bed. :)

Icy Sedgwick said...

Cathy - He watches movies with me. Last night we watched Apartment 1303. Not sure it's suitable viewing for such a youngster but he does like horror!

Tony - Thanks!

Emma - Aston used to have his own profile on Myspace. He had more friends than me!

Marisa - People say I'm too old for stuffed toys. Pah!

Lisa - Aston says happy Friday to you too!

John - Hahaha, I can see why you might think that, and then I go and give you a story about a toy dog!

Jeffrey - Some people call it needless anthropomorphism but I call it imagination.

Julie - I've often taken in toys that seemed lost or alone. I encountered one bear who had been tied to a post by his neck...so I bought him.

FAR - I thought 'cute' might lighten the mood after last week. Oops, used blue in both of them...

Deb - He's SO cuddly. Very floppy dog.

Michael - Thanks :-)

Storytreasury - But they'll suffocate!

Laura - Everyone should have a floppy-eared dog.

Steve Green said...

Cute story Icy, and the name Aston, from the Aston Martin? For years we have owned a bear called Ed, my wife wanted him because he was the last one in Aldi, and his mouth is stitched wrong, giving him an evil look, so no-one would buy him. Ed has travelled all over Europe with us. (Sad aren't we? :) )

Matt Merritt said...

I’ve never been the same after watching Toy Story. Now you’ve given me more guilt every time I throw one of the boys’ toys away. Nice personality to the puppy. I liked it.

laradunning said...

Aw...such a sweet story Icy. Your true heart and inner child shines through in this flash.

Helen said...

Aww I first saw your little dog in the flash friday place, now you've made him real to me! I didn't know you were the blue fairy! You're very versatile (wink) writer, ghost-hunter and soft toy rescuer.

Loved this story, very sweet, now have a big smile on my face. Thanks for making my day start well!

Helen - helen-scribbles.com

afullnessinbrevity said...

This has made my day, Icy. After a particularly crappy morning, this is a bright and wonderful tonic. Thank you.
Adam B @revhappiness

Jason Coggins said...

God damn, you gone and went and gave me goose bumps. It would seem cuddly puppy dog stories are my Kryptonite. Grrr.

Clive Martyn said...

And you call yourself icy? :)

daniellelapaglia said...

Aw...I loved this. Thanks for sharing a piece of you with us. (BTW - I straighten out toys in the bag, too)

thirteenthdimension said...

This is awesome. I, like others, put the stuffed animals or dolls the right way in a bag, too... and once I'm out of the store, they're usually out of the bag right away, too!

I also make sure my bags or containers of coffee grounds or beans are right-side up, too, but that's a different bit of nonsense in my head.

Chuck Allen said...

You're the bestest blue fairy ever! This story had something special about it, although I'm not sure exactly what it was. Maybe it was the playful nature of it, but it definitely worked!

Stephen said...

If you don't put them in the bag the right way up, how can they smile into the wind and let their ears flap?

Plenty of fun, plenty of blue sparkle, liked your 'pawing shadows', and that 6-across he's looking for is: 'excellent'.

St.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Awwwww. Just, awwwwwww. It really gets me right here *nudges breastbone* Probably because I loves me some plushies. And they have to go upside right.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Steve - Yep, I named him after a car. ^_^

Matt - I gave one of my bears to a charity shop and I feel guilty when I walk past and it's still in the window.

Lara - Thanks ^_^

Helen - Glad I could make you smile :-)

Adam - Very glad I could cheer you up a little.

Jason - Ha, now I know your weakness....

Clive - I know, I'm ruining my image, aren't I?

Danni - Glad to know I'm not the only one who does it!

Rob - I get cross in cereal boxes are the wrong way around!

Stephen - Haha, I never thought about it like that!

ibc4 said...

This is just lovely. I adore this piece. I'm with you & Sam on putting things in the bag the right way up.

Stephen said...

An adorable story, Icy, Salvation of all animals. I enjoyed the tie-in to Pinocchio. Though Aston didn't turn into a real dog, you treated him as if he were, which is just the same. That makes all the difference, doesn't it?

Thanks for sharing.

Mari said...

Awww, that's so sweet! Aston is a lovely dog, I bet he keeps you good company and gives you inspiration. (like a real dog ;)

Maria A. Kelly said...

Aw, this is so sweet. I have a stuffed bear on my kitchen table/desk. He's from Universal Studios & I got a pair of hater blockers on him so the glare from the sun won't hurt his eyes. His name is Wallace, Wally for short & he's my little editor too! Love this!

AidanF said...

Very cute. I like the way you mixed this retelling of finding Aston with Pinocchio's tale. but he was real in her head, and that’s all that mattered is a great way to end this story.

Lauren Cude said...

"he was real in her head" - what a great line. Really enjoyed this.

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