Trepidation swarmed over her body like a hive of killer wasps. " Just one more little step" her logical mind whispered to her soothingly " You can do this, you've already survived so much!!". That one little step would take her back in time yet at that same moment would slap her metaphorical face with the harsh reality of the present moment. She hadn't been back to this house since her childhood and with this long awaited reuinion there was also longing of what could have been. As her size 6 Adidas sneakers stepped over the threshold and onto the blackened tarnished carpet, her nostrils involuntary swallowed the pungent smell of stale cigarettes and decaying meat. Her mournful eyes darted around the cluttered space searching for the culprit of that rancid sickly sweet smell of death. There was rotting meat sitting on the dining room table, forgotten like the rest of the old house. Her deceased Grandpa whom had last lived here must have forgotten to put the sausages and mince away "typical" she thought, the dementia had ravaged his mind as well as his appetite. The house had been built in the early 20th century by her Great Grandmas Father, an angry rugged man he may have been with a love for the drink but he had surpassed the assigned job of the family breadwinner and this old house was handed down the generational gene pool. Now over a century later here it was blackened and decaying , forgotten like an old unloved dog. Only titbits of her childhood were left in it's foundations. Amongst the rotting asbestos walls were outlines of the painted butterflies her Mother used to decorate on the walls. She remembers the time of their creation fondly. The pleasant memory possessed her like an angel hugging her aura. A rainy day in 1996 when it was too wet to go outside and play, So her Mother had decided it would be an art and crafts day and the house had ended up being the canvas. She had only been 8 at the time, with the hope and promise of a bright future with countless possibilities. A child is never afraid to dream big, unaware of the challenges that come hand in hand with life. The heartbreaks that leave you gasping for breath, feeling like somebody has reached in and pulled out your organs and ripped them into a thousand pieces, the disappointments that leave you feeling cursed like a lost soul trying desperately to find the light amongst the darkness and the fear. Oh the fear was the worst feeling of them all, it formed in her chest like an icy cold glacier threatening to freeze her entire body, so she was too afraid to keep moving towards her assigned path of existence. Consumed by all these confronting emotions, she would sometimes forget that with life also came love with it's euphoric heights that lift you so high your stomach gets left behind, the joys that come from the smallest things like a fragrant flower blooming after you've tenderly nourished it's seed day by day. The ecstatic feeling of laughing so hard you are on the ground clutching your stomach, trying hard not to soil yourself. She had reluctantly come back to the house to try to retrieve anything of sentimental value that had managed to escape the bonfire her father had started in the front yard many years before. The fires had swallowed up all her childhood keepsakes, her diarys, her beloved art magazines, her hundreds of little golden books. She had reaccuring dreams of entering her childhood bedroom and finding it untouched, just the way it was left in the 90s. Her frilly little dresses hanging in her sticker covered closet, her animal farm sets lovingly left in a box under her bed, the horse posters covering her walls. She had hoped with all her heart that her Dad had left at least a few of her beloved items. Though it seemed unlikely even to her hopeful inner child. After her parents had split up, her Dad had returned to the house and burnt all the things he deemed as unimportant. He had emptied her bedroom and boarded up her windows with planks of wood and nails so his unlawful activities would not be seen by unwanted bystanders . His plans to grow marijuana crops and sell them to make a profit had never seen the light of day and now, neither did her room. Goosebumps prickled her body like icy rose thorns as she knelt down and rummaged through the debris. Within minutes her small hands were black with the soot that had permanently blanketed the entire house from years of fireplace woodfires and her Grandpas chain-smoking. Everything blackened like a storm cloud, with no sunshine in sight. There was nothing that could be saved in this room, it was all junk with nothing to look forward to but decaying into nothingness. Feeling disheartened and with a sheet of soot covering her from head to toe she left the skeletal frame of her bedroom and gave up searching for any memorable contents. She had to get out of this filth, she was tired and needed a shower. Within moments she took a deep breath of sweet fresh air outside, her lungs drinking up the oxygen with unspeakable gratitude. Soot had gone up her nose and even her mouth. She could taste the charcoal and bile threatened to rise up her throat like an angry cobra striking it's prey. She wiped the soot from her stinging eyes and made her way towards a tap at the side of the house where the old woodpile had once resided. A ghost of its former self with rotting damp wood littering the ground. The rusted old faucet didn't look too promising as she tried to twist it until there was water.. She swore under her breath as her hand started to ache and still none at all, she felt silly for even flirting with the hope. " Screw this I'm out of here"!!! She muttered as she tiptoed amongst the woody rubble towards her car that was parked out the front, waiting for her like a hound waits eagerly at a window for their master to return home from work. " Owwww!!!" she cried out as she tripped over something hard and landed into the damp woody abyss, using the palm of her hands to bear the brunt of her fall. With stinging hands she pulled herself up and looked amongst the rubble to see what was the culprit to her tripping. Camouflaged amongst the darkened wood was an old familiar face with blue eyes that had seen too much, staring blankly into space. " OLIVIA, I found you"!!! She cried as she reached down to pick up her formally beloved childhood dolly. Her father must have dropped Olivier when he was playing the role of Satan with his stupid selfish bonfire. Olivier had gone into hiding, refusing to let someone else dictate her ending. Now she was hugged lovingly to her formal childhood playmates adult chest. Olivier's skin had once been pink and soft like a newborn babies skin. Her 90s commercials had promised that she was " just like a real baby" yet now, time and filth had rearranged her into a dark skinned hell cherub. The only part of her that remained the same was her hard plastic eyes, in truth they looked a little creepy. Olivier had been gifted to her lovingly by her Mother one Christmas day in the 90s. She had wanted the Zaft creation baby born doll for such a long time and the morning she had opened the box that contained her, she almost felt slightly disappointed that it didn't move like a real human baby. Nevertheless she spend years enjoying the dolls company whom she had named Olivier. Now after decades they were reunited at last, both a tad broken, both a little tarnished but also both survivors of indescribably hard circumstances. Later that day once she was home she showered herself and the doll and washed the haunting soot off each of them..As the dirt of the past streamed off both their bodies and vanished without a trace down the drain she used it as a metaphor. " If Olivier can survive amongst the chaos, so can i, we can do it together". She toweled dry her own body and then the dolls, then she placed her on her floral quilted bedspread. The doll stood out like a sore thumb amongst the superficial La,Di,Da of the materialistic bedroom. Like a demonic baby playing amongst gods cherubs in heaven. Yet she was confrontingly real. Beautiful in her own unique way, even though permanently darkened by the past literally and metaphorically... she could now be surrounded by the light and coexist amongst it in all her salvaged glory. Way back when in the 90s, the commercial had promised a lifelike Doll that could pee and poop and cry REAL tears so that little girls could role-play the maternal roles they would be doing as adults, not realising how fast and precious childhood is and how once they are adults, they would wish to be children again....now this Doll, this imperfect Olivier was here to teach the ultimate lesson to her human companion. "When things are hard, when it feels like you have no future and might as well burn in the fires of despair, you FIGHT!!!! Never give in, you're stronger than you'll EVER know. Never stop looking for that strength even if it's the smallest thing, nuture it day by day, let it build up don't let anyone drag you down." Olivier was passed from generation to generation, looking more dishevelled with each child she taught yet each time with more lessons to teach.