"I didn't tell you how I ended up here, did I?" Shel said.
"Do you want to?" I looked at him.
He shivered. "Not really, but I owe everyone the whole story, I guess. I owe one of John-John's friends a lot more than that..."
"My former person wasn't home when my boyfriend threw me down the stairs. She didn't come home until several hours later. I was taken to the NYC Doll Hospital, of course, where they patched up my arm and told her I would need some extensive work to have the armature repaired. It was then that they started asking questions about what had happened. My boyfriend turned on me. He started acting all hysterical and saying that I'd attacked him, I'd tried to seduce him and he'd tried to fight me off and - well. my former person was disgusted. She believed him. I didn't have a chance. She disowned me right there and left me. My boyfriend looked so smug. I was devastated. And now I was homeless...
"Since I didn't have a person anymore, the doll hospital didn't know what to do with me. They weren't willing to fix my arm if nobody was going to pay for it, and of course I didn't have the money. I didn't have anything at that point. Anything or anyone. They told me I was going to be turned over to an eBay broker the next day. He'd put me up for adoption and use the fee to cover both their costs and his own. But he didn't want me either. He said I was ugly, that nobody in their right mind wanted a boy doll, especially not a gay one. At that point, they said I'd have to be taken somewhere upstate. I couldn't stay there.
"Somewhere upstate turned out to be with a seller at an indoor flea market. He didn't want me either. He said I'd never sell. That night, I decided to run away. I knew it would probably be the end of me, but my arm was still broken, I couldn't use it, I was in a lot of pain and nobody wanted me. I thought a quick end was better than the alternative.
"I'd never been out of a city before, let alone on my own. I was terrified. I wandered through mostly woods for two or three days - I lost track of time - having to hide from dogs and hoping it wouldn't rain or snow and finish me off. It was freezing. By what I think was the third morning, I was too weak to go any further. I could hear dogs barking nearby and I knew one would probably find me and that would be the end of me, but right then, I didn't care...
"And then I heard voices. It turned out to be John-John and his best friend, Pinky. They were walking her dog and found me. Pinky ran back to the house to find Maddy and John-John stayed with me and tried to keep me warm. I'd never been so cold before. He tried to keep me awake, but I must have passed out.
"I woke up with no idea where I was, but I was warm and inside and it felt safe. I hadn't felt safe in a very long time.
"Then a welcome face came to check on me. John-John told me everything was going to be all right and they'd find my person and get me home. That was when I finally broke down and cried. I couldn't tell them the whole story; I was too ashamed, but I told them I was homeless now and had nowhere to go - and a hospital bill I couldn't afford to pay.
"Maddy and Pinky had come in by then. Maddy hugged me - gently - and told me that I was welcome to stay with her and the others. Pinky asked me what my name was and what doll hospital it was and went to make a phone call, She came back ten minutes later, while Maddy was looking at my arm, and told me it was all taken care of. She'd called her band's manager and asked her to make arrangements to have the bill paid. I told her I couldn't repay her. She told me not to worry about "stuff like that." Then Maddy took me to her sewing room to replace the damaged armature. Since she's a doll maker herself, she knew how to do it. I was still facing months of physical therapy to relearn how to use it, but it was fixed and I wasn't in pain for the first time in days. And John-John stayed with me the whole time I was recovering. I'd never met anyone so gentle or sweet. I realized I was falling in love with him.
"By the time I was strong enough to get out of bed, he'd confessed that he loved me, too. He found me something to wear until Maddy could make me some clothes of my own. I'm taller than any of her other dolls, so nothing quite fit, but I didn't care. I had a home for real now, and I'd found the love of my life."
My sisters and I hugged him. Then something occurred to me. "Shel? Who's Pinky?"
He smiled. I think he was glad I'd changed the subject. "Pinky Torrance."
I was dumbfounded. "The Pinky Torrance? From Tornado?" Tornado is like, only the most awesome band to come out of the doll world since Jem and the Holograms. Pinky's their lead singer.
"Yeah," he said. "They're on tour. That's why you haven't met her yet."