In The Absence Of
The Abysmal Dollhouse
There was no dust for the little fingers to doodle through. The Shopkeeper was on top of the particles, no fleck of detritus escaped her eye nor her duster. Without that distraction, the tiny fingers danced over the display tops, in and out of spaces, up and down her glittery cardigan, searching without any prethought. When something met her eyes, the child’s reaction was immediate. In this case, total joy.
She had stopped in front of the Irondequoit Carousel miniature. The horses were rearing their heads, the coach seats laquared and shiny, mermaids with flowing red hair, squat frogs with saddles; all frozen in a circular race. Golden-framed mirrors were hung from the middle station, reverse imaging and refracting the colored lights that ran along the top perimeter.
The Shopkeeper had not moved from her counter through all of this. Her gaze, fixed on the girl who could not be there. The door hadn’t chimed, hadn’t opened nor closed. The dollhouses pleas of “mine, mine, mine” were nonexistent. In the midst of her dusting, she turned and there the girl just was. Her thoughts went cold and ached; she retreated to her counter, her broom close at hand.
A faint blossoming of shadow in the far corner caught the Shopkeeper’s eye: the Unfolding Doll was there, more in shadow than not. The doll was just there, her attention also focused on the girl. The Shopkeeper’s instinct was to confront the doll: it could not have the girl. But, the doll’s stillness halted her rush over. She noticed, too, that the Unfolding Doll was sans weapon. She let out a breath she did not know she had been holding. Her attention went back exclusively to the girl.
The carousel’s calliope music roll began to turn, the sound reaching around the shoppe. With it, the amusement ride began its endless circular journey. The girl’s laughter melded with the music; she twirled around as it did, tightly holding onto something in her left hand. The Shopkeeper cried out “NO!” as she tried to move away from her counter. Paralyzed, she could only watch.
Clambering over the slowly spinning side of the carousel, the girl wound her way around the poled figures. She climbed on one, rode for a bit, tried another, and then finally settled on the mermaid. She whooped with glee, the Shopkeeper noticing the huge smile that came into view with every revolution.
“No,” she moaned, tears streaking down.
Out of the housing that surrounded the center pole and its machinery, a figure emerged. The Shopkeeper saw it was a man, dark clothed, oily outer coat, matted down dark brown hair. She noticed his eyes, searching for and following the girl as she appeared and disappeared around and around. He jumped onto the spinning base just after the girl had gone by again.
Spellbound, the Shopkeeper could only watch the scene as it was enacted: he caught the mane and strap of the horse that rode the highest as the hanger rotates it up and down; he reached into an inside pocket of his long hanging duster and drew out a long knife; clutching it, he advanced on the girl. Raising his arm, the knife blade reflecting the colored lights of the carousel, the music pulsating around them, the man slashed down.
If the girl cried out it was mixed too tightly with the calliope sounds. She slumped against the pole embedded in the mermaid, jerking as the knife plunged into her another time. Then she fell, and the man knelt down and delivered one final thrust. Standing up, he tore the thing that the girl had been holding onto throughout it all: a linen doll, now bloodied. He dropped it on the body.
The Shopkeeper could not see the blood that pooled on the floor of the carousel, the blood that stained the mermaid, that splattered the arc around the still moving amusement ride. She didn’t need to see it with her eyes.
Just as it had started, so it all ended. No movement. No sound. The lights that broadcast from the carousel were gone. The Shopkeeper felt she was freed from whatever held her so, but she still did not move, except to extract a tissue to blow her nose, another to wipe her eyes and face.
Exhaling deeply, her eyes were once again attracted to the far corner. She had completely blotted out the Unfolding Doll from her conscious. The doll did not appear to have moved an iota from when she last took notice, but something was different. Glancing down at the doll’s left hand, she saw its long sharp knife.
“Yes,” she acquiesced to the Unfolding Doll.
“Yes, yes, yes.”
To be continued…
During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.
*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.