Back at the dolls’ old house, 2 visitors were making their way up the walk to the front door.
Tay and Lea stood side by side as they walked down the sidewalk. Suddenly, Lea stopped.
“What’s wrong?” Tay asked, pausing to look behind her.
“What if..” Lea said, “What if they don’t like me anymore?”
Tay laughed. “Come on, Lea.” She reached for Lea’s hand to pull her along.
“No, really! What if they can’t forgive me? For abandoning them, for not telling them my secret – “ Lea said, counting the reasons off her fingers.
“What secret?” Tay asked.
“ The one about that I’m a Jedi?” Lea asked, like it was obvious.
Tay blinked and stratched her head. “ Oh, yeah. I forgot.” She gave an embarrassed smile. Then she said, “You are being rididculous. If you don’t walk up to that door and ring the doorbell in ten seconds, I’m going to.. to.. Well, whatever I’m going to do, it won’t be very pleasant. For you, that is.”
Lea sighed and had to smile. “I guess.. I guess you’re right.” She straightened up and boldy stepped into front of the door. Her finger hesitated for a second as she reached out towards the doorbell, but she took a deep breath and made the ding-dong sound ring throughout the house.
Tay looked at Lea after a few seconds. “Ring it again,” she suggested.
Lea was getting nervous. She pushed the button again. And again. Then she tried knocking.
“Maybe they’re gone on a trip or something.” Tay offered.
“You’re probably right.” Lea said, sighing. “I’m foolish for thinking they’d be home after I’ve been gone for so long.”
They sat down on the steps together. Lea’s eyes were downcast as she picked at the hem of her robe.
“What now?” Tay asked.
“I don’t know.” Lea looked up into her friend’s face. “ I guess…” She trailed off as her eyes adjusted to the scenery beyond Tay.
“Guess….?” Tay prompted. She turned around to stare where Lea was staring.
“Oh, no.” Lea said, breathless. She stood up and stumbled over herself, running to a sign planted in the front yard.
Tay ran after her, and caught up to her just as Lea had finished reading the sign. Her eyes welled up with tears, and she fell to her knees, sobbing.
Wondering what made her friend so upset, Tay read the words on the sign.
The dolls had moved.
“It’s all my fault..” Lea cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. “I wasn’t fast enough.” She yanked her ponytail band out of her hair and let her soft, messy curls fall around her shoulders as they shook.
Tay sat down on the ground beside Lea and put her arm around her. Her own eyes were starting to tear up.
“What am I going to do?” Lea asked. She wasn’t even expecting an answer. Even Tay couldn’t be a comfort to her now. The emotion of losing them came like a wave, washing away all the relief of the finished fight against Rokoi. Now Lea would be on her own. Again. But this time, she didn’t want that.
Tay rubbed Lea’s back, not knowing what to say. She had never been good at that, so she just sat silently.
Suddenly, something clicked in her mind.
“Wait a minute.” She said, then again, a big louder. “Wait a minute!!”
Lea looked up at Tay’s enthustiastic face, though it was blurred through her tears. “I think I might know where they’ve gone!” Tay said, her eyes wide. She laughed. “I know this town inside and out. And there’s only a slight chance of the dolls moving locally, but there’s only one house that was being built in this town. They just finished up! I can take you to it!”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Lea sniffed, “I don’t want you to get your hopes up too high though, Tay.”
Tay laughed. “It’s too late for that. Let’s go!”
“Here we are.” Tay said.
Lea and Tay stood at the front door of the newly-built house. The dolls were dwarfed compared to the door.
Lea reached out towards the doorbell. Then she drew back her arm. “Um, Tay , I’m not so sure about this..” She said nervously.
Tay snorted. “Come on. What have you got to lose? Don’t get all nervous on me.”
“I’m being silly,” Lea said, trying to convince herself. A second later, she said, “Why don’t you push it? This was your idea.”
With a sigh, Tay reached her arm forward.
She looked over at Lea beside her and smirked slightly. Lea was wringing her hands together. Nervously.
If this plan of Tay’s didn’t work, she realized, Lea would be most likely living in foster care, or put up for adoption. As would Tay. There was a lot riding on her shoulders. She pushed the doorbell.
“Hm, hmmmm,” Grace hummed, as she swept her dusting rag across the TV. It left a trail of shiny metal behind it, catching all the dust mites. They seemed to be plentiful in their house, which is why Sarah suggested that they clean the house from top to bottom. It had seemed like a good idea. At the time, that is.
“I think I just heard someone at the door,” Isabelle called from the wardrobe, “Can someone go answer it? I’m a little busy.” Grace heard a crash in the other room, and winced.
Setting down her dusting rag, and happy to be free of cleaning the living room, she hurried down the hall to front door. But who could possibly be at their doorstep?
No. She would never. It was too impossible. Lea had left. And she didn’t even know they were moving. Once again reminded of her loss, Grace’s happy mood diminished and the grief, guilt, and sadness all came back. But trying her best to put on a fake smile, Grace opened the door.
And all the negative feelings took flight.
Grace stood, frozen, as she stared at the 2 girls in front of her. One of them was an Asian girl, whom Grace had never seen before, but the other was Lea. And joy! Grace had never felt so happy and free in her entire life.
Lea stretched open her arms, her eyes glimmering with tears. “My sister,” she said, smiling, and Grace ran to her embrace.
They hugged each other as tight as they could, and began to laugh and cry at the same time.
“Oh, Lea,” Grace said, stepping back, “I’m so happy you’re home.”
“Me too,” Lea said, wiping her eyes. “I feel so.. so complete.”
“Well..” Grace trailed off, wondering where to start. How do you talk to someone who had gone missing and then reappeared at your new doorstep? Grace studied Lea from head to toe. Something was different about her.
In a second, Grace realized what had changed. When she left, Lea had been the little sister. But now.. Now, Lea acted older. As if she was the big sister.
Grace didn’t know how she felt about that. But she decided she would have a lot of time to find out.
So instead, she turned to Lea and said, “Who’s your friend?”
The Asian girl smiled in a quirky way, and Lea glanced over at her before facing Grace and saying, “Grace, I’d like you to meet Tay. I mean Taylor. Taylor, meet Grace.”
“Nice to meet you, Taylor,” Grace said.
“Call me Tay.” Tay said.
She was a bit sassy, in a tomboy kind of way. Grace smiled. Jamie was going to have a lot of trouble trying to “fashion-ize” this girl.
“Well, come in! Come in!” Grace said, gesturing for the girls to step inside the house. She lead them back down the hallway, chattering all about the new places in the house.
Lea and Tay glanced around at all the new sights and tried to pay attention. They snapped back to reality when Grace stopped, and ushered them into one of the bedrooms.
Lea blinked. There stood all 5 of her other sisters.
Sarah, Isabelle, Kaya, Kanani, and Jamie all looked up, and stared.
They all stood staring at each other, in silence.
“Lea!” Sarah said, her expression one of shock. She blinked, as if she couldn’t believe her eyes. “But I.. I thought.. “ To Lea’s surprise, she started to cry. “I’m so sorry,” Sarah said, “I didn’t want it to turn out like this..”
Lea’s nervousness melted away. Then approached Sarah and gave her a hug. And she surprised even herself, by saying, “It’s not your fault. It’s… no one’s.”
“Wait, Lea is home?” Kaya asked, her eyes lighting up.
Lea giggled. Kaya was such a breath of fresh air sometimes. “I’m home!”
To the surprise of all of them, the dolls began to laugh. All her sisters took turns giving Lea tearful hugs. The clouds had been lifted. It was a joyful day.
But there was one more thing Lea had to do.
Find a home for Tay.
Later that night, Lea crept through the house to the living room.
Just as she had suspected, Sarah was up late as usual, reading a book with a glass of milk.
The evening had been a busy one. Tay and Lea had been given an entire house tour, and told the entire tale of their adventure, along with a few lightsaber demonstrations. Lea had been given her belongings back, and Tay was given the guest room to spend the night. Lea had never had a more joyful day in her life. But she still had something on her mind.
Lea stepped into the living room and took a deep breath. “Sarah?”
Sarah looked up from her book, as if she had already known Lea was coming. “What?”
“I want to ask you something.” Lea said, wringing her hands together nervously. “It’s about Tay.”
“I thought as much.” Sarah said, “Sit down.”
Lea stiffly sat on the fold out chair. She took a deep breath and began. “When I met Tay, she told me that she didn’t have a family. She lived on her own. But then she told me, a family is what she really wants. Sisters to love her.”
Sarah smiled, but didn’t say anything, so Lea continued. “So, I thought, maybe, she could.. live with us.” Lea exhaled. The hard part was done. But the unnerving part wasn’t. Sarah still didn’t say anything. “I’d know she’d be loved here. I love her like my sister already. Kaya looks up to her too.
“Did you see the look of wonder and fascination on her face tonight as Tay told everyone the story of our trip? No one has been able to do that.”
“I don’t think so.” Sarah said, chewing on her lip.
Lea’s heart sunk. Tears welled up in her eyes. Her vision blurred.
“I don’t think Tay’s the only one to make Kaya fascinated.” Sarah said, a smile spreading across her face. Lea realized Sarah was messing with her. “But I do think she’ll be able to stay with us.”
“Really?” Lea said, hope rising up inside her. Her eyes lit up.
“Mom already said yes.” Sarah said. She laughed.
Lea looked around. “I.. I.. don’t know what to say.” She stammered. “Thank you!” Lea was unable to contain her excitement. “I.. uh.. I need to go tell Tay.”
Sarah giggled as Lea bolted towards the guest bedroom.
Lea’s heart pounded as she ran to where Tay rested in the guest bedroom. She knocked on the door once, before entering. Tay was sitting up in bed reading a book. She looked up upon Lea’s entrence.
“What is it?” She asked, “What happened?” Tay closed her book.
“You will never guess.” Lea said, “I found a family for you.”
Tay’s eyes shone. “Really? Who is it? What family?”
The corners of Lea’s mouth turned upwards into a smile. “It’s us.”
Tay blinked, and shook her head. “That’s really awesome. I mean..” She was at a loss for words. “That’s more then I could ever had asked for.”
“We will always love you, cherish you, and take care of you.” Lea said, sitting next to Tay on the bed.
“I know,” Tay said. She sighed. “I love you, Lea.”
“I love you too, Tay.” Lea replied. And to herself, she added, And all my other sisters too.
Because she meant it with all of her heart.
Well. The Guiding Compass is finally finished.
I hope you all have enjoyed The Guiding Compass!! Thanks to all the support, likes and comments you have given me along the way. Lightsabers for all!
May the Force Be With You,
– American Girl Doll Artist