Today’s prompt: Post the opening sentence of your favorite book. How long has this book been in your life?
Without question, it is a book that begins like this:
There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid.
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams was a favorite of mine, and of our daughters as well. Their childhood companions were a blankie or a stuffed cat, but they were sources of comfort and very REAL. My companion was a small stuffed tiger I named Furry.
Furry was VERY REAL. He was loved to the point of real-ness. His eyes had long-since disappeared. His silky whiskers were just wisps. He needed a tiger-otomy for a major repair to his stomach. His stuffing had disintegrated and was leaking through the fabric, so my mom re-stuffed and repaired him.
Furry hangs out in my study. He sits on top of an now un-used CD player (I really should re-home that!) and occasionally I will pick him up and think about what is “real” in my life now. Where there are people’s lives who are no longer fictional but teach me in ways that I never imagined. They show the signs of pain, illness or trauma… but they are more alive than a perfect specimen of humanity will ever be.
Like Furry, I’m a little run-down and some of the new-ness of my appearance has disappeared. Call them wrinkles, grey hairs or a colony of cellulite, it’s pretty clear I have a few miles on me. I’m still trying to walk around the planet remembering that Love made me real. And you can be, too.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.