Baby had a special place on top of my sister’s bed. I had my eye on Baby, a plush doll with a huge head, almost like a pillow, very soft, for hugging. It had orange curly hair and sea-blue plastic eyes. It intrigued me. A fat little doll shoved in a shimmering mermaid outfit that crinkled when you touched it. I wanted it. Not to play with. But to torture.
One Saturday morning, I decided what I should do.
“Let’s put Baby in the toilet.”
Melissa looked up from our Saturday morning cartoons.
“What for?” She was intrigued.
Of course she was. This was brilliant. The toilet was where you pooped. Poop had a power over us. We told poop jokes. Our dog, Spritzy, loved poop the most. She ate it straight from the cat’s litter box. You could tell when she did it because her lips would be lined with cat litter crumbs.
“Because it will be funny,” I said.
I wanted it. Bad. To see that fat plush face staring hopelessly out from the bowl.
Melissa looked skeptical.
“I don’t want Baby to stink,” she said.
“You’re a goody-goody,” I said. We secretly whispered curse words just to try them out, and we regularly called each other names that involved bodily functions or insulted intelligence, but calling someone a “goody goody” was slinging the heavy stuff.
“Yes huh you are,” I said.
Melissa turned off the TV.
“Come on, let’s try it,” I said.
I had never put toys in the toilet before. I threw them, I submerged them in the pool, and I duct-taped them to the skateboard and sent them down the stairs. In fact, putting a toy in the toilet was a world-first. No one had ever thought of it before. The toilet was the last taboo. I grabbed Baby off the bed and we marched into the bathroom.
“You can’t tell,” I said.
I dropped it in. Plop. Now the toilet seat crowned Baby’s enormous head. It was funny. Baby was in the potty. We giggled. But then Baby’s enormous head began taking in water like a waterlogged ship.
“Uh oh,” Melissa said. We watched the doll absorb the water in the bowl. She was worried. I was, too. I did not anticipate this. Putting Baby in the toilet was great, but taking her out meant she was going to drip water everywhere. Poop water. I panicked.
“Take her out! Take her out! She’s going to stink,” Melissa said.
“Shhh,” I hissed.
Then we heard a rustle. God no. Not this. Not now. I should have known. Shhhs woke my father. He had a supersonic hearing for them. Things couldn’t get any worse. Then Melissa dropped the bomb.
“I’m telling,” she said.
It was too late. Footsteps were coming up the stairs. He heard us. I was going to be in huge trouble. First count, Baby in the toilet, misdemeanor. Second count, waking Dad. Felony. I could also be convicted on a lesser charge of tormenting little sister. The footsteps thundered down the hall. There was no time to take out Baby. I closed the toilet seat, enveloping Baby in poop darkness.
My father stopped in front of the bathroom, squinting in, still half-asleep. He wore his boxers and an old paint-covered t-shirt.
“Kids, I gotta use the bathroom. You almost done?”
He hadn’t heard. He wasn’t here to yell. He was just here to pee. I looked at Melissa. She stayed quiet.
“Almost,” I said.
He walked into the kitchen. I grabbed the hanging bathroom towel and pulled Baby out, wrapping her up. I rushed her into the bedroom and Melissa was right behind me. We shut the door and laid Baby out on the floor, examining the body. She was soaked through like a wet rag.
“You gonna tell?”
Melissa thought about it. She knew this was big. We had put Baby in the potty.
“No,” she finally said. She was a loyal sidekick. “But I don’t want it anymore. It stinks.”
Together we shoved Baby under my bed. All the way against the wall. Melissa was smaller and was able to squeeze under the bed to push her back all the way. Sometimes, we lifted up the bed skirt to take a look at Baby’s huge head rotting there with dust bunnies and astray game pieces, but mostly, we didn’t talk about it again. Baby was a goner. Miss her. Miss her.