Limitless Ramblings presents: CALI - an original short story by Lauren Brent

This is a short story I just wrote, based on a picture I drew a little bit ago... I have a picture of the drawing, but it's not on my computer. I'll put it up here when I get it. BUT - I hope you enjoy the story... Stick with me through the whole thing if you can - it's a bit long, but it's really close to my heart. :) I think the theme of "change" is handled fairly well in this post. :)


Cali wasn’t the best stuffed animal in the world… she wasn’t even the second best. In fact, as far as stuffed animals came, Cali was lacking. She was small – tiny, really – and she had more stuffing in some places than she did in others. Not to mention, her stitching was extremely noticeable, making her less aesthetically pleasing than all the other stuffed animals.

What was worse was, Cali was a panda… she was SUPPOSED to be cute. She did her best to live a happy life, not caring what others thought of her, but it was tough. If she had been a stuffed panda in the old days, things would be easier. Back then, children weren’t so focused on looks… they were just happy to have a toy. But, now a days, parents could buy their kids as many stuffed animals as they wanted, and one was apt to be thrown away if it wasn’t absolutely adorable. Cali thought herself lucky – she had seen some of the less tolerable animals tossed out because of their ugly appearance, but she was small and unnoticeable. No one would throw her away, because no one knew she existed. It hadn’t always been that way. When Cali first came around – when she was a brand new panda – there were only a few other stuffed animals around, and Cali had been loved and payed attention to. But, as more and more stuffed animals came in, Cali was slowly pushed away. The more tattered she became, the more she was ignored.

After a while, Cali began to long for the attention she once had. She wanted to be noticed again; wanted to be held and loved – but every time she thought to speak up or get involved, she was reminded of her appearance, and ended up biting her tongue and fading back into the background. She had made friends with some other stuffed animals, but only talked to the ones who were kind enough to engage her in conversation first, and mostly kept to herself in the toy box. As she got older, she got more depressed. She desperately wanted to express herself, to make friends and actually be someone. As it stood, she felt she was useless and unwanted – pushed away to make room for the better toys. If she ever dared to get close to another stuffed animal, they ended up leaving. It was amazing the amount of trouble a stuffed animal could get into. Cali was sick of getting hurt, too. She was sick of listening to all the other stuffed animals laugh at her less than pleasing appearance… so what if her stuffing was disproportioned? So what if she wasn’t fuzzy and adorable? Where did they get the right to make fun of her? She began to get angry at her predicament and wish that someone would notice her and throw her away. She was rude to the older animals, talking back and yelling and saying mean things, and she’d make a mess wherever she went. She wanted so desperately to be thrown away. She was sick of being angry and sad and lonely and useless… she just wanted to be thrown away.

One day, Cali had been playing with some of the other stuffed animals. They had asked her to come along, and she had agreed because she didn’t want to be lonely, but she kept to herself thinking it was a trap. She had heard stories of “uncool” stuffed animals being befriended, then having pig’s blood dumped on them or being beat up or embarrassed. It wasn’t going to happen to her.

Suddenly, the stuffed animals scattered, leaving Cali in the middle of the floor, confused.

“What are you doing out?” Cali heard someone say, and froze. She had not been made aware that the Master was home, and she suddenly became very angry. This was the trick – they all left her out. The Master would see her, be disgusted by her appearance, and throw her out.

Fine, she thought. I’m useless, anyway. It’ll be better this way. The Master picked her up, dusted her off, and smiled at her.

“You’re perfect,” he said, taking her with him, away from her family and so called “friends.” The Master carried her into the bathroom and she all but gasped.

OH MY GOD! He’s going to flush me down the toilet! Cali felt more shamed than she ever had before. She had heard of a number of ways to be discarded, but being flushed was by far the worst, and most embarrassing. Instead, however, the Master turned the sink on and began to wash her. Cali was confused – why wash her before flushing her? It didn’t make sense.

“There we go,” he said when he was finished. “Much better! What do you think?” Cali stood up and examined herself in the mirror – she had never realized how much dirt and grime had built up on her in the years, and as she looked at herself, she smiled. She wasn’t so ugly after all. She peered up at the Master and smiled.

“I like it… thank you. Are you going to throw me away now?”

“Throw you away?” The Master asked, his laughter booming out of him. “Why would I do that? No – You, my dear, are a very special creature, and I have something equally as special in mind for you.” Cali couldn’t help but smile. No one had ever called her special before! The Master scooped her up again, carrying her into yet another room.

“But what about all the other animals? The ones who were ugly like me… you took them away, and I never saw them again. Some of them were my friends,” she added, and felt sadness tag at her heart again, and she was certain that if she could have cried, she would have. “I miss them…”

“Some of them had already served their purpose, and it was time for them to move on… but others… others are like you. I had something special for them. You never saw them again because they were busy doing what I had in mind for them.” The Master set her down in the room, and she looked around. There were stuffed animals everywhere – big, small, fat, skinny, old, new – and various wooden creations. She looked up at him again.

“Where are we?” She asked, and he smiled.

“My workshop,” the Master said. “Go – get acquainted with some of the other animals… we have a while yet before we need to leave.”

Cali did as she was told, and began to talk to the other stuffed animals. They were very kind, and she had little trouble talking to them and getting to know them. For the first time, she felt like she was actually loved and wanted. Before long, the Master scooped Cali up with a number of other animals and stuck them in a box. They were in the box for a long time, and Cali began to get nervous again.

“It’s okay,” some of the animals said. “We’ve done this before, we’ll help you out.” The Master took the box into another building, and placed it down in a room. Cali could hear voices, and desperately wanted to look around. Soon, she was removed from the box, and placed with a number of the other animals in a window. She looked out and saw a number of children, and as they began to grow quiet, she realized they were watching her.

“What are we doing?” Cali whispered, and one of the other animals smiled at her.

“Puppet show, it makes the children smile.” Just then, the Master picked Cali up, moving her arms and legs, and giving her a voice. The children laughed at what was being said, and Cali felt sad and angry again. She thought that the Master was making her look stupid, making the children laugh at her… but still, she liked being up there, acting out puppet shows.

“This isn’t funny!” She hissed, and one of the other animals shook their head.

“They aren’t laughing at you, they’re laughing because they’re happy!” The Master grabbed another animal, and made Cali and the other stuffed animal engage in dialogue. Cali began to smile – it was pretty funny, and she liked that she was making the children happy.

By the end of the puppet show, Cali felt as if her heart would explode with excitement.

“That was so much fun! Can we do it again? Can we?”

“You see? You’re not so useless after all. You made all these children happy, just by being yourself.” Cali smiled, and her new found friends began to congratulate her on a job well done. As they were packing up, a little girl walked up and looked at Cali, and Cali peered back at her. The little girl crouched down until her face was in line with Cali’s.

“Well hello there. I haven’t seen you around before.”

“She’s new… first day.” The Master smiled at Cali, but Cali didn’t see it. She kept staring at the little girl.

“Well, she’s very talented for a first timer… may I hold her?” The Master nodded, and the little girl picked Cali up and hugged her tight. “She’s so soft!” The little girl put her down after a while and skipped away, and Cali watched her go.

“Cali, do you remember when I told you I had something really special in mind for you?” Cali nodded. “That little girl is named Mercy, and she’s in need of a friend, and I think you’d be perfect for her. She’d take good care of you, and I’m sure you’d make plenty of friends with her.” Cali was uncertain. She was happy where she was, finally. She had lived with the Master for so long and had felt miserable… now that she was finally enjoying where she was, he wanted her to leave? “It won’t be forever… and I’m sure you’ll love it much more than where you are now. I have so much planned for you, but you have to take a step in faith… trust me and go with Mercy. It’ll all work out.” Cali looked up at the Master. His kind eyes told her it would all be okay so, even though she was frightened, she agreed.

Mercy took her home, and held her tight the entire way. When Cali was placed in Mercy’s room and given a chance to talk to the other stuffed animals, she found it very easy to make friends. Everyone was extremely friendly, save for a few stuffed animals with attitudes or tempers that needed a bit of work. Within moments, Cali met Dallas, a small stuffed cat that had lived in the same place as Cali for a number of years. They found out that they had a lot in common, including similar calls from the Master. They quickly became best friends, and began to do everything together. Before too long, Cali and Dallas had put together a group of stuffed animals that was almost inseparable. They got themselves into plenty of trouble, but shared more than enough laughs to last them a life time. Cali began to love living with Mercy. She wasn’t angry anymore, was hardly sad, and wasn’t ever lonely.

Mercy put on a lot of puppet shows… sometimes they were in her room, sometimes in other rooms in the house. Cali wasn’t always used in the puppet shows, but when she was, she loved every second of it. She was so happy that when she looked back on her life, she could hardly believe she had been so anti-social and sad. Her life wasn’t void of sadness and heart break, but she was at a point where she could climb back out, and be okay. She felt herself change. Her sadness was replaced with a witty sense of humor, her loneliness replaced by the warmth and love given to her by her new friends, and her sense of uselessness replaced with an intense sense of adventure.

Cali still lives with Mercy. Dallas and other members of the group were taken to college with Mercy’s older sister, but the group still gets together and starts trouble. As assumed, her life is far from easy – roadblocks and challenges present themselves as often as they can – but Cali herself is different. She’s rarely seen without a smile on her face, and it’s almost impossible to get her to shut up now. She still misses her old home, but is perfectly content where she is, and will always be grateful to the Master for everything he did for her to get her where she is.

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