Bright button eyes, a carefully stitched mouth, and lovingly sewn yarn hair made up the little ragdoll. Her dress had been handmade, and her tiny shoes had taken only an hour to make, and when she had been finished, she had felt like the most beautiful doll in the world. Beautiful and loved. Cared for like no other.

The woman who made her did not keep her, however; she gave her to the tiny baby girl she called 'granddaughter'. The ragdoll felt special, for she had been made for such a precious darling. She loved the little girl, and was her constant companion as the girl grew older. By age six, the ragdoll was understandably worn, but she didn't mind. She was happy being adoringly hugged every night as the girl fell asleep.

Soon after the girl turned seven, however, the little ragdoll's world began to change. The girl recieved another doll, this one with painted-on eyes and rosy china cheeks. She could not carry this doll wherever she went, but she spent more time caring for her hair and dress than she did for the ragdoll. Yet, the ragdoll did not mind. She knew she was still cared for, and she still loved the little girl with all her stuffed heart.

Then came her eighth birthday. Another doll, with dainty fingers and a thin black smile made to fit snugly between finely-crafted lips. She was haughty, a refined lady, and did not acknowledge the ragdoll. The ragdoll did not mind, for she still hugged the girl as she slept. The other two could not, as they were kept up on the highest shelf in the girl's room.

Months passed, and even more dolls came. They were like the china doll and the lady doll; stiff, fancy, and fragile, each one with a different design and the same rigid smile. The ragdoll was forgotten by the girl, who by now was ten years old and greatly interested in her high-shelf dolls.

One day, as the ragdoll lay alone in her basket beside the girl's bed, the girl came bouncing in, clutching a plastic box to her chest, humming a light tune the ragdoll vaguely recognized from her younger years. Looking at the box, the ragdoll saw a magnificent creature. A porcelain doll, with blonde ringlets to her waist and green eyes that were alive and aware, staring straight ahead as a doll should, yet somehow seeing everything around her. Only the poor ragdoll went unnoticed.

The porcelain doll's hands were thin and intricate, with pink nails carved expertly, and her feet were covered by exquisitely made white booties, her long, frilled light blue dress almost covering them. The most striking thing about her, though, was her smile. It was not thin and painted, but a loose grin. It captivated the ragdoll, and she wished she were that doll. Maybe then she would be loved by the girl again.

The days grew long, and the snow set in outside the wondow. The girl spent long whiles outside, with other girls the ragdoll had never seen before. She supposed they were the girl's 'friends'. The ragdoll had never had a 'friend'. She wondered what they were like.

A winter day came when all the 'friends' came into the girl's room. The lovely porcelain doll was taken down to show to the multitude of children, and they 'oohed' and 'aahed'. The ragdoll knew that the porcelain doll deserved the praise she was given, but she still felt envious. Not exactly hatred, no, more like loneliness. As the girls happily clapped and petted the blonde hair of the other doll, the owner of the dolls pointed outside once more. The noise filtered out as the 'friends' left the room.

And the porcelain doll remained in its spot on the bed, where the girl had left her.

"Hello," she said, "My name is Charlotte."

The ragdoll did not have a name. "Hello." She answered simply, plainly, just as she felt she should next to this true work of art.

"Don't you have a name? Won't you tell me?" Charlotte asked, smiling widely and looking up at the ragdoll.

"No. I don't have one." Another short answer. She did not want to embarrass herself. She could already feel herself grow nervous.

"I'll give you one, then." Charlotte replied. "How about Alexandrine? I'll call you Alex. And you can call me Charlie."

The ragdoll stared in wonder at the usually high-shelf doll. Why was she taking time to speak to her, just a lowly ragdoll? "Alexandrine. Alex." she said aloud, tasting the words on her red cloth tongue. She liked them. She liked having a name. "I'm Alex. Hello, Charlie." she said clumsily, flushing against her burlap skin. Her yarn hair hung down, covering her blue button eyes, as she leaned forward to talk to the porcelain doll. Charlotte.

Charlotte laughed. "Nice to meet you, Alex. I've always wanted to come down here and talk to you. I see you from the shelf, and I think, 'she sure is beautiful.'"

The ragdoll wondered if Charlotte was addled. Who would think that she was beautiful? She was just rags and thread, not the slick, shiny china and porcelain and glass the other dolls were made of. Why would this wonder think that she was beautiful? "No, you're the beautiful one. In fact, I think you're splendid." the simple words spilled out, and the ragdoll wished she could hide her face as soon as they left her throat. How stupid she had sounded!

"Thank you." Charlotte said quietly, and the ragdoll looked up to see her smiling gently, her green eyes soft. The look was what the ragdoll missed, and she felt her heart constrict at the longing she felt. She reached out slowly, then dropped her stubby arm, afraid of how Charlotte would react if she grabbed her hand. She looked away again, ashamed.

Then a miracle happened.

Charlotte took the little ragdoll's hand in her own, urging the ragdoll to look her way. Reluctance played through the ragdoll's stitches, but she forced herself to look, happy that their hands were touching. Together.

"Let's be friends, Alex."

The little ragdoll beamed as far as her stitched mouth would allow, nodding, happier than she had been in a long time.

And that's how the little ragdoll came to have her first friend, and, in time, first love.

Rags and porcelain.

Alex and Charlie.