Ellie retired today. She was eight and a half. She and Anna had known each other since they were both one week old. Ellie, an elephant head, was attached to the middle of a small blanket, about fifteen inches square. The blanket was pink, hemmed in green satin which Anna loved to stroke with her fingers while she sucked her thumb. Ellie covered Anna’s face when she didn’t want to be seen at all. Anna could not sleep without Ellie and carried her as she was crawling and, later, when she started to walk. Ellie traveled in the car, to restaurants, to birthday parties and Phillies games. Once the family forgot Ellie on a road trip and Anna’s dad had to turn around and pick her up or no one would be sleeping much at all. Ellie did not attend first or second grade though. She waited quietly on Anna’s bed until nightfall.
Eventually, the satin trim became frayed and Ellie’s seams began to pop. They were stitched up by Anna’s mother who wasn’t much of a seamstress. In a little while, all the wounds reopened. Anna woke up each morning to find more and more of what passed for Ellie’s brains on her pillow. Anna realized that drastic measures were required. Ellie belonged in the hands of a skilled surgeon. The recovery period took several weeks. There were serious complications. Anna somehow managed to sleep without Ellie. She found a new use for her fingers and thumbs on a pink, kid-friendly iPad with a five inch color screen.