Come on little guy! I thought from behind the gallery ropes. You can make it!
The boy’s plump hands extended forward, propelled by his thick, tumbling waddle, his shoes clomping on the gallery floor. I felt like I was hanging from a cliff waiting for him to grip my arm and save me. Then a breeze of moist heat floated past as his mother grabbed him at the very last second—just before he reached me.
That was 1978. I still dream about it. I imagine the boy climbing up onto my seat. His pleasant folds and warm, springy pudge nestled between my arms. A small puddle of drool soaking into my velvet, the life of it racing through to my frame.
I would share those dreams in the meetings.
Of course, I remember the lonely attics and warehouses, too. Rooms of swollen heat and shrinking cold. Dark, hollow, airless. A desolate purgatory, despite the stacked and crowded landscape, a bulging mountain range of the stored and forgotten.
In the brittle stillness, dust showered down upon me with a fragile constancy, like some gray and final mist, ashen drifts accumulating on my every surface. For decades, I ached for the feel of footsteps rattling through the floorboards, quivering up my legs, delivering some—any—faint agitation of life. And oh, to be the chosen one when that door finally swung open, the chooser blackened against the blaze of ripe and glorious light!