Voices of the Moirai: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Voices Of The Moirai

The Abysmal Dollhouse

As meant to be, three by three,
The Vorpal blade lives, not vicariously.
It dances and twirls as it slices the skein
Threads disconnected; blood falls as rain.

Jab once, jab twice, jab three times; no more
In this he excelled, his devil’s chore
This deed is done. Callooh! Callay!
He should be off; but yet, he stays.

The chest of his chosen still rises and falls
This won’t do, no no no…not at all.
Should he jab again? Should it be four?
Four! The bells ring out loud; no time for more. 

*** *** *** ***

If the running loon hadn’t knocked him over, the soldier wouldn’t have been able to save her life. If the guy hadn’t vanished into the crowds, he wouldn’t have stopped to catch his breath but go after him. If he hadn’t stopped to catch his breath, he wouldn’t have paid attention to the path in the woods the other guy tore out of.  If he hadn’t gone looking, to see where that nimnut was running from, he would not have heard her weak cry for help. Would not have found her bleeding body, out the back of the park maintenance shed. Would not have wrapped her in his jacket, as she started to go into shock. Would not have found her phone and called 911.

If he hadn’t.

The police and medics came. He was questioned over and over, the blood on his clothes, his missing fingers, what did he see. He had to repeat himself over the same questions until as she was being lifted into the ambulance, she came about just enough to hoarsely whisper to the EMT: “not him. not…” and they sped away.

He described the guy-the suspect-as best he could: more his view from the ground after being knocked down. Dark brown pants, stained near the bottom. Running shoes that looked like they were held together with duct tape. A long dark coat: the right side fluttered as the guy ran, but the left must have held something heavy because it was stiff and really didn’t move. Long black hair in the back, matted. White guy. That was it.

Explaining again his time in the corps, his need to pay attention under any condition. Even with his protests that he was ok, they took him first to the hospital and then to the precinct, to question him one more time. A sketch artist was of no use since he did not see a face. What they had did not give them any hope unless the girl could provide more when she came out of surgery.  If she survived the surgery.

A few days later, the soldier was welcomed into her room at the hospital. She thanked him, cried some, wiped it away, and told him what she saw before the first thrust of the knife. She told him it was a heavy looking knife, large and cumbersome. The attacker had big eyes, really dark pupils. Scraped up face, only patches of facial hair here and there. He hadn’t talked at all, but he smelled.

“Bum smell,” the soldier offered.

“No. Wood. He smelled like burning wood, from a fireplace.”

They exchanged names. He promised he’d come back to check on her again. Then he left, hit the streets, and went hunting. He had a mission.

*** *** *** ***

"Child, come. Child, come." The hateful noise 
Her horrid voice that she employs
Rang round and round his echoing skull
The maddening sound; it would not dull.

He had failed; he had failed; his three times three
What punishment deserved? What shall it be?
Something draws him on, but not to his lair
"Child, come. Child, come!" as if a dare. 

"Child, come. Child, come!", without remorse
"I come. I come. Of course. Of course."

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

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Unfettered Essence: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Unfettered Essence

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper withdrew to her back room, sans light, sat in her padded chair, and stared into the darkness. What she had done should not have been realized. She had inserted herself into an action that was not her function, her purpose. She was Guardian, Guide, Teacher, Rescuer…Mother. The balance of chaos and order that she maintained, the weighing of those who were drawn to the shoppe, to them she was Judge. But, Executioner? That was not her role to take on.

Until just now, when she lost herself.

With an abyss dwelling sigh, she levered herself out of her chair. Lightly stepping, she stopped at the threshold to the shoppe. Her eyes went to where the Muirhouse and its new companion were displayed; they were there, a low placed mournful weeping coming from the house. The shack, to its side, vibrated in sudden violent bursts, subsided, and then start again.

She thought the Unfolding Doll would still be fixed in place by the dollhouse. It was not there. Instead, moving just her eyes, she espied the doll in its shadowed corner, more an outline than a full figure. The Shopkeeper knew without actually seeing the Unfolding Doll that its black button eyes were on her. Her composure had reset before she left the back room. She swore to herself that she would not let that happen again.

She tidied up her dress and apron and walked into the shoppe proper. Choosing a direction, she went from dollhouse to dollhouse, stopping to inspect them, to feel its wants, needs, pleasures, pains, and in some cases, its madness. She walked around without her tools: both the duster and the broom left in their places by the front counter. If the Shopkeeper had not been so distracted. If.

Each dollhouse she touched. Each one grabbed a tiny bit of her emotional essence, sated and satisfied with the tidbit. The Shopkeeper gave it freely, not drained or diminished, but removed. She gave, they took, they remained silent.

Stopping near her counter, she went to her knees, touching Mike’s house, the Singleton household, and the Derasar. The pleasure of these was returned to her with her giving. Opening a sliding panel at the bottom of this display case, she brought out a replica she had vowed never to display again. She set it down on her front counter.

The Shaded Radiance Emporium, gaudy in decor, twinkled its fairy lights from the fading sunlight that hit it just so. The fake Persian rug was accented by the fake Chintz draperies. The chairs and tables were spool-turned furnitures, meant to give a Victoriana elegance, but falling far short. The roundtable in the center of the room was covered in brushed purple velvet that hung 2/3 of the way down, covering the middle pedestal.  Long strands of colored beads blanketed the two doorways on either end, and the two windows were overtaken with blackout curtains.

A bemused chuckle left the Shopkeeper as she sat down in one of the chairs. She looked at the beaded doorway facing her and waited. Soon enough, the clattering of the beads announced an entrance, much like the door chimes that tinkled in the shoppe. A crystal ball was carried in, but not placed on the table, but off to the side.

“That’s not for you. That’s to come. You, for you, cards.” The older woman, covered in unmatched layers of different colors and patterns, settled her many skirted self into the chair opposite the Shopkeeper.

A croup-like cough came from the older woman, drawing out a large deck of cards from a hidden pocket. “You swore you would never return here. You swore, but I knew. I knew you would have to come to see me. You will still have to see me again, one more time.”

The Shopkeeper sat silent, staring at the woman, then looking at the cards. She did not wish to show that that last statement bothered her more than her being in the Emporium at present.

“You still won’t talk to me. That is fine. The cards will tell us what we need to know. What you need to know.”

She shuffled the cards, placed them face down, and the Shopkeeper cut the deck. The older woman repeated this two more times. On the Shopkeeper’s third cut, the Mystic took the cards and began to lay out a pattern.

Without turning her head, the Shopkeeper knew that the Unfolding Doll was still watching her from across the shoppe.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

This Is Not My…: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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This Is Not My…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

4:00 p.m.; The scond day
Vorpal Knife; Time to slay.
Following the jogger, unawares,
He caught her midstep by her hair.

A yelp, a shock, but she did fall
No other sound was made, none at all.
The Vorpal Blade went snicker-snak
As she lay on ground, on her back.

Looking up, grabbing his hand
Fading fast, muscles not in command
He brushed it away, with such ease
Nothing would delay, not her pleading “please!”

Three jabs fell, precise, deep
Life force ebbed, the blood seeped.
Oblivion attained, Vorpal Blade sheathed
One more to come, one more to cleeve.

*** *** *** ***

Broom in hand, the Shopkeeper worked her way through the shoppe. She had a determination to her, but she fought it. The strength of the Unfolding Doll’s monomania was poisoning the energy that ran through the dollhouses and their “guests.” Their chants for more ebbed and flow, whether someone entered the shoppe or not.  The Wall of Death wailed, new skulls replacing ones that crumbled, their stories gone to dust.

The Shopkeeper was on edge. This had happened before, but never to this degree. “Drastic measures” ran through the Shopkeeper’s mind. Measures she had never attempted, but she talked herself into hoping this would prove a possible solution. She wouldn’t know until she tried.

With a commanding “HUSH!” and a twist of her broom, silence returned. The houses ceased; in fear or anticipation, the Shopkeeper did not care. It was done. Now, the real task fell on her shoulders.

She gingerly walked over to the Muirhouse. She had stirred others away from this house, in a sense starving it of its malevolent ethos. The hope was that its spirit would be a draw, bringing the one who had helped damn her to this shoppe. The one who took away the one dear thing in her life, leaving a terror in his wake. The strongest connection was within the Muirhouse, and whatever means possible…

The Shopkeeper reined herself in. She closed her eyes, taking deep breaths in, slowly letting them out. She rolled her neck, trying to ease the tautness. Opening her eyes, fixed on the dollhouse, she realized that acting in a Machiavellian way was not her nature. She was feeding off of the deep well of the Unfolding Doll, and that just would not do.

Bringing her broom horizontally, heart high, the Shopkeeper gripped the handle, spreading her fingers over as much width as possible. Her left foot went straight towards the Muirhouse; her right was turned towards the right, second position. She adjusted her balance. It would do no good to teeter during her casting.

Concentrating, focusing, controlling her breaths, she began. Words did not form through her lips, but the pattern became a swirling concordance that wove through her. Mixed in were the command words: “Tell Hime To Come!” It would variegate itself, taking on a new configuration every third repetition. By the end of the third set, the Shopkeeper had salt laden sweat sting her eyes.

Closing her eyes, she stopped, gave her inner voice freedom of appreciation, and finally lowered her broom. Her knees buckled and she would have fallen flat to the floor if not for her firm hold on the broom.

And the hands of the Unfolding Doll, bracing the back of the Shopkeeper’s upper arms. Slowly, she slid down to a sitting position, the Muirhouse displayed just behind her head. The Unfolding Doll walked backward, but only a few feet instead of its usual retreat into the shadowed corner. Its button eyes were not on the Shopkeeper but on the Muirhouse.

Without looking, she knew she had failed. The power of this dollhouse was strong; the Unfolding Doll rarely ventured near it, let alone enter. The Shopkeeper somehow knew it wasn’t fear that caused the avoidance. It was so much deeper than fear.

She swiveled around on the floor and slid open the cabinet door underneath the dollhouse presentation surface. Staring into the darkened space she made out the minature that she had never wanted to display. Her inner fight on going this far was as exhausting as what she had attempted with the Muirhouse only moments ago. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw that the Unfolding Doll had crouched, staring into that darkness. The Shopkeeper noticed that its knife was back in its hand.

Reaching in, letting out a deep sigh, the Shopkeeper brought out the dilapidated Wood Shed. Chains were affixed to one wall. It was moldy, in need of a thorough demolition, tossed in a roaring fire, its ashes scattered by the wind. She knew all this, yet she still took it out of its crypt and, standing, placed it alongside the Muirhouse.

A shriek pierced the entire shoppe, one that did not stop until a chant began, coming from Muirhouse. The sound moved from room to room, loudest by the windows, echoing down the hallways. The shriek stopped by the back door, by the kitchen. From the window grew a chant: “burn it, burn it, take an ax, burn it, burn it.”

Gathering her broom in her hands, and her resolve set, the Shopkeeper drowned out the incessant wail from the dollhouse.

“You will be quiet, and you will listen!” she said, voice clipped and harsh. “You will call out to him. You will draw him here. Call him with your harshness. Call him with your cruelty. Call him with your anger, despair, rejection, jealousy, hatred. Call to him; bring him here. You will call to him to come here…or the Wood House will have a new tenant. Muirhouse looks like it would burn nicely in a fireplace.”

The house was silent, but a shaking of the windows, the creaking of boards, spoke volumes.

The Unfolding Doll had sidled up alongside the Shopkeeper. Their attention was solely on the house. They stood there, staring, for three minutes. Finally, the force of the Muirhouse tumbled, and a tinny voice could just be heard.

The house called: “Child. Come.” Like a beacon on the Lighthouse, the beseeching continued at regular intervals.

The Shopkeeper made her way to her counter, deposited her broom, and trudged into the back, not turning on the light.

The Unfolding Doll stood sentinel over the Muirhouse and its Wood House.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

The Candy Striper: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

The Candy Striper

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The old man took his time entering the store. Stooped over his cane, his face drawn and blotchy. His cap was low on his head; it was easy to tell that the only hair on his head came from his ears.  His glasses were thick, even with the progress in the eyeglass industry. The Shopkeeper took this all in, waiting for him to cross over into the shoppe. The door chime tinkled a little longer than usual.

She smiled at him. “May I offer you any assistance?”

“If it’s OK with you, I’ll just look around. Yes?” he asked. She nodded. “Good. Thank you. This is a very…interesting shop you have.”

“Thank you. Please let me know if you need any information…or help,” she offered one more time, and one more time he refused.

The Shopkeeper went to stand behind the main glass-encased counter. She had to shush a few of the Dollhouse’s pleas of “Mine, mine, mine,” excusing their desperate cries as just noise from outside when she noticed the man’s raised eyebrows.  He turned to look out the window; what he could see was the same empty street he had been ambling along. He smiled, shrugged, and began to look around.

The Shopkeeper studied him. He was gaunt, with sunken eyes, hollow cheeks. She noticed that every few steps a grimace would mar his face. He was short of breath, and occasionally he wheezed.

He examined many of the Dollhouses, reading the legends neatly handwritten on their display placards. He made a few small grunts if he bent over too far on some, a harsh rasp escaping his lips.  The Shopkeeper noticed a sharp, horrid look on his face as he stood in front of the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée. She hurried over to his side, grabbing her broom along the way.

The Unfolding Doll was approaching him from behind, out of the corner shadow, knife in hand. The Shopkeeper spoke a few warding words under her breath, placed her hands in a pattern on the broom handle, and brought the broom down, separating the space between the doll and the old man.  The Unfolding Doll stopped in its tracks. It canted its head to the right, button eyes focused on the Shopkeeper.  It brought the knife up to waist level, but let it drop. Gliding backward, The Unfolding Doll oragamied itself into the shadow in the corner. All this happened in the few seconds it took for the man to get his composure back.

“I would like to show you a special Dollhouse. I think this is one that would be of interest to you,” she offered to the man. This time, he allowed her help.  He followed her to the opposite wall, nearer to the front windows. She stopped him in front of a double-floored straight line designed dollhouse.  The man stared, took a step back like he wanted to retreat out the door, but The Shopkeeper went over and opened the front of the Orange County Hospice.

He stared; just…stood there and stared. The beds lined the long ward, separated with colored drapery.  Some of the beds were occupied, chairs as well. At the end was a large picture window, sectioned off by a frosted glass wall. It was exactly like the one he had just left, unsettling him so that escaping from there seemed preferable.  His aimless walking led him here.  It was sterile clean, bright and open. He hadn’t been ready-not yet-to surrender when he had left the hospice with such heaviness. This…this was different.

He noticed a young girl walking towards him, a closed book in her hands.

“May I sit with you, Charles?” she asked. “I looked for you at your bed, but John in the next bed told me you were out here in the sunroom.” She looked out the window as she sat. “Such a beautiful day, isn’t it?”

Charles nodded at the Candy Striper. She was wearing her candy cane red and white striped pinafore, a natural smile on her face that continued into her eyes. He looked at the book she was holding.

Her smile broadened. “Yes, I have your favorite. I borrowed it from my brother. “She began to read; Charles found himself relaxing and settled back into the chair.

They traveled together over the clouds, hand in hand, flying with Michael, John, Peter, and Wendy…Wendy Lady. The adventure took him to Never Never Land, fighting pirates, living in a hollow tree, saving Tinkerbell’s life. He relished the reading, the escape into a world he loved, and in this… he forgot how much pain he had been in before.

Charles had nodded off at some point. A deep snore woke him up. The candy striper was still there, but the book was closed, bookmarked for a future read. Her smile was addictive, a similar one he felt beginning on his face. On the small glass-topped table in front of him was a tray of delight: baked goods, and all ones that Charles loved.  Chocolate Eclairs, Napoleons,  and a large mound of chocolate covered Rainbow Cookies that he and his father had loved. “Take what you’d like, Charles,” she said. He sampled and ate, and was more than sated. It had been a long time.

When he patted his stomach and sat back in the chair, Anne, the Candy Striper, tilted her head back to the ward. “Mr. Roman says he could beat you in a wheelchair race. Are you up for the challenge?” she asked, the excitement in her voice was evident.

“You bet. I am ready for any challenge!” he exclaimed. Anne helped Charles to his wheelchair, Mr. Roman already waiting.  They nodded at each other, wrapped their hands around the tops of the wheels.

“Ready! Set!…” called Anne.

The Shopkeeper approached the dollhouse and closed the front. She smiled as she heard laughter and friendly shouting noises from within. “Good,” she said out loud, moving back to her counter and picking up her duster. She was speaking to the shadowed far corner. “Good. This one will never be yours.”

The Unfolding Doll was surrounded by shadow. The knife in its hand glinted of its own accord. It could wait, as its wielder could wait as well. Both thirsted for the Shopkeeper but knew this was not the day. The Unfolding Doll crept from the far shadow into The Serpent House, the dollhouse closest to its corner, to play.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

This story is an edited version of one that appeared here on October 22, 2011. If you want to read & compare the two, click on this link: Candy Stripe Ward: A Tale of the Abysmal Dollhouse. 

I rewrote this more to fit my current voice with The Abysmal Dollhouse. Not a major reworking, but one I am happier with. Hope you like it.

Real Neat Blog Award: Peachy Keeno

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So, second time in two weeks, I have a blogging award. Never heard of this one before, but it was created by Dear Kitty: Some Blog in 2014.

I was nominated by someone new (to me) who I discovered, again, through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. The blogger behind A Creative PTSD Gal is busy busy busy. She writes from the heart, and it has been a pleasure to discover her. Two blogs, a whole big family, life…and she does it. Not everyone can. Since she writes a bit more personal items, I don’t think it’s in my wheelhouse to go deeper into her reasons. Check out the above link and I think you’ll be pleased you did. Thank you for the nomination. I hope I can remain neato keeno.

Here come the rules:

The Rules:

  1. Display the award logo: DONE
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog: DONE
  3. Answer the questions of the one who nominated you: See Below
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers: See Below Below
  5. Ask them 7 questions: See Below Below Below

PTSD Gal’s Questions for MOI:

  1. What is the most difficult part of your artistic practice? I try not to write during the day because of interruptions (phone calls, mail, meals, life). I usually like starting about 11:00 pm EST.
  2. What has been the most difficult thing to date that you have written about? My one man play based on my father. He was a survivor of Auschwitz.
  3. Do you limit yourself to edits? Not sure how to answer this one. I hate editing, but I know it has to be done. I’ve gotten better as I’ve aged, like a fine cheese.
  4. Snack or no snack when writing? Beverages always; snacks only when my taste buds cry.
  5. What or who encourages you to keep posting to your blog? Right now, I push myself. It keeps me from negative things.
  6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were little? A scientist &/or a comic book writer.
  7. Do you have a writing buddy? (Dog, cat, fish, snake etc…) Nope. I’ve got dust. Does dust count?

Bloggers I nominate are:

Seven Real Neat Questions:

  1. What car would you own if money is no question?
  2. What author would you like to sit down with and pick their brains?
  3. What is your favorite story about Winter?
  4. If you had to “Kill Your Baby” (talk to Stephan King) in a book/story you’ve written, who are you most sorry you had to do in? If you haven’t, who should get the axe?
  5. What book have you read more than once?
  6. One of these is real: Magic (Paranormal) or UFO’s. Which one, and why?
  7. What is YOUR favoriteist blog posting from your blog(s)? Please copy and paste your link here

Sigurd The Mighty: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

Skull

Sigurd The Mighty

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Shadows edged their way throughout the shoppe,  pockets that swalowed light. The Shopkeeper would try to rearrange the lighting, add more fixtures, but nothing stuck: what was in the light remained so; the rest was shadows’ realm. The far corner held a shadow so complete that nothing affected it for more than a few moments. The Shopkeeper normally kept her distance, her peripherial vision always alert.

She made her rounds, dusting dollhouses, counters, display cases, and cabinets, in a grid pattern. She was careful in her dusting normally, but her experience with the woman whose mouth was covered, the devout way she used her personal brush on her temple, made an impression on the Shopkeeper.

Time passed. The shopkeeper stood at the side wall, off the left of her workstation, and realized she had not cleaned inside the largely locked cabinet in quite some time. Searching her apron pockets, the could not find the key that would unlock the door. She left the floor, positive she had hung it from the key hook in her back room. She walked behind her counter, hung up her duster, and went in search of the key.

Yes, the key was hung by its own ring, on top of a series of keys that unlocked other things. Taking it down and placing it in her pocket, the Shopkeeper heard a noise just outside of her room. A tap, tap, tapping against the glass. “Not now,” she muttered, knowing what it was, knowing she had not heard the front door open nor the door chime tinkle.

Stepping over the threshold, she turned and saw that the Unfolding Doll was leaning against the glass of the large curio cabinet. Its knife was making the sound, the tap, tap, tapping.  The hand of fine linen clutched the handle, letting the tip of the blade make the noise. The doll was all in white this time, delicate lace enclosed wrists led to the white sleeves, attached to a white lace bodice, finished off with a white linen skirt that fell almost to its ankles. The black buttons in the place where eyes would have been being fixed on one thing in particular in the locked display.  Its black ringlets were tossled, adding a wild contrast to the rest of its attire. Yet, it suited the blade.

The Unfolding Doll turned its head in the direction of The Shopkeeper, the tapping continuing. “Please, stop,” the Shopkeeper asked, reaching to her right where her broom was propped against the wall. Surprisingly, the noise did cease. The Shopkeeper sighed, took the key out of her pocket and waited until the knife was gone.

Walking forward, key in hand, the Unfolding Doll took a step away. Its button eyes did not move from what it was fixated on. The Shopkeeper inserted the key, turned and unlocked the large glass door, and gently opened it.

Inside stood the multi-tiered Wall of Death, a miniature presentation of the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée. Skull after skull adorned the replica wall, each with its placard, in tiny print, the matter of death that was the story of each individual whose brainpan was showcased. At present, there were seven shelves with six neurocraniums displayed, most of them complete, a few with cranial abrasions or missing pieces. 

The Doll stepped up and gazed solely on one skull, second shelf from the top, first one to the left. The Shopkeeper quietly moved behind and to its side. She pointed at it, reading the sign: Sigurd the Mighty. The Unfolding Doll appeared to relax, enough so that the Shopkeeper knew it was this that drew the doll’s attention.

Focussing solely on Sigurd, the Shopkeeper channeled her emotional energy on the object, as she had done before with other skulls. For her, it was the only way to unlock its story.

A deep male voice came from the cabinet.

40 men fought with me; 40 fought against. Their leader, Mael Brigte the Bucktoothed, refused to bend knee to me and my king, my brother, the rightful ruler of Norway. I had conquered all of this northern land of the Britains, this pissant of a leader being the last to stand in my way. He and his fought for his land; I and mine fought for our King.

Both sides were able, I will give Bucktooth that. Yet, his men had not fought battle after battle, did not have the true knowledge of those they fought with and their capabilities. My 40 cut down them all to a man. Mael put up a great fight, but he was still no match; I had not been called Riki, The Mighty. 

Shattering his knees with my mace, I drew my long sword, releasing his life force with blow after blow. Down went Mael Brigte, down the Bucktoothed, and the remainder of his men still standing lost hope, and they followed him down, to let the ground feed off of their blood.

While my men took their spoils, I took Mael’s head, tying it up to hang off my horses’ saddle. This was a trophy for my king, a show that this northern land was mine, and in its way, the king’s as well. We rode away from the slaughter, making our way back, knowing many days were still ahead of us. At nightfall, around the fire, it was made notice that I had a series of large scratch marks on the outer part of my leg. I had felt some pain, ignoring it as we rode having just left a battle. We passed around the skins of wine and none feeling anything after a while.

As I made to mount in the morning, I found Mael Brigte’s head looking at me. It seemed it was smiling, but it was only his buckteeth sticking out, his mouth frozen in an open grimace. The mouth and teeth were red, but I would be damned if cleaning the head was going to happen.

The road back was uneven, and my horse stumbled now and then. Each time it did, the head of Mael banged into my leg, a few of those times I felt pain. I kept one eye on the path, one eye on the head. A hole in the ground almost caused the horse to drop, but it righted itself well. Yet, eye on the trophy, I saw that the buckteeth of my foe had bounced far away and returned, scoring my leg. Blood pooled down my calf and was soaking my footwear.

When we finally stopped, the pain in my leg was so wretched that I at first limped to the campsite, nearly falling into the fire. I tried to sleep, but the pain was absolute. I was sweating, shaking, and when one of my men tried to help he touched the area where it hurt the most. He drew his hand away sharply, saying that the leg felt like a winter stove. He rubbed his hand in the dirt. I had been going in and out of being awake. I thought he said that there was something slimy coming from that spot on my leg, and there was a horrible smell being emitted. I passed out and remained so until the morning.

My men had to bring me to my horse and saddle me. I heard the complaints of a smell, and evil looks were given to my leg but the glances were swift. Everyone mounted, and we continued on. The path remained uneven, the head of Mael Brigte scored my leg again and again. Towards the setting of the sun, a day and a half away from our home, I fell off my horse, already dead before I left the saddle.

My son, Gottorm, buried me at Sigurðar-haugr.

This is my story told. Leave me be.

The Shopkeeper revived herself, awareness flooding back into the shoppe. The Unfolding Doll was not there. It was walking down the aisleway, tapping every now and then with its knife. The doll headed to the far right corner and the shadow. Stopping just before it, the Unfolding Doll turned to look in the Shopkeeper’s direction. Walking backward, it folded itself into the shadow and was gone.

Dusting the skulls was needed, and dust she did. A few of the skulls reached out to her, wanting to tell their story.

“Hush. Not now, please,” she gently quieted them down. “There is always time for more.” Finished, she took the key out of her pocket, locked the cabinet door, and returned to her back room. She hung the key back on the hook with all the other keys.

She smelled something. On the small dining table was a freshly baked scone, clotted cream, and raspberry jam. Next to it was a steaming cup of tea. She picked it up to take a sip: yes. She “mmmmmm”‘d as she folded herself into her padded chair. Thai High Mountain Oolong, a fresh scone. The Shopkeeper sipped, nibbled, and smiled.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

Sigurd the Mighty is part of Bizarre Viking Deaths. No joke. I came across his story years ago and always wanted to do something with it. Well, here you go.

As to the Wall of Death, if you ever go to Philadelphia, there is the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians. A very bizarre place to have a first date, but it’s what she wanted to do. There is a wall of skulls. I just took it a step further. I always thought this was an appendix to the “normal” Abysmal Dollhouse tales, but I’m glad I wrote this one for the AtoZ. Hope you enjoyed.

Rotten To The Corpse: The Abysmal Dollhouse (#AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Rotten To The Corpse

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Shopkeeper was pacing, duster in hand, not dusting. Cleaning did not help. Taking some bites from a freshly made scone, a cup of Ancient Lotus Green Tea did not help. She was feeding off of the Unfolding Dolls agitated state.  There was a new vicousness at its core that transcended the doll’s norm.  She knew the cause, but there was nothing she could do about it.

A series of “mine, mine, mine” shook her out of herself. Casting off the frowning, the Shopkeeper straightened herself up, pinning loose hair, tidying her skirt, apron, and shirt. Duster in hand, she faced the door of the shoppe.

The door chime started to tinkle as the tall man entered, but he wrapped his large hand around it, cutting the sound off in mid tink. He turned, closed the door, then, with his back to the door, he surveyed what was in front of him.

The Shopkeeper waited silently, noticing his eyes roaming. She took him in, his height being the obvious aspect that outlined him. Dark long beard, buzzcut on top, tinted sunglasses. His hands went into his denim jacket, pulling it down as he, too, straightened himself.

“Ma’am,” he nodded to her.

“May I offer any assistance?”

“No, ma’am. Not even sure why I came in here. If you don’t mind…” he stopped, as his eyes roamed again.

“Please. Let me know if you do need anything.” The Shopkeeper returned to her counter, brushing off the last crumbs from her scone and then briefly left to return her teacup to its place. She came back, standing on the threshold between the shoppe and her back room.

She was aware that his ankle-high black boots made almost no sound as he walked around. When his hands left his pockets, to almost touch one house or another, she noticed that the back of his right hand was scared in a number of places. On his left, he was missing his last two digits. He stopped dead in his tracks. He must have known she was looking: he shoved his hands back into the jacket pockets.

He came to the end of the far aisle and stopped suddenly again. He was facing the shadowed corner. He froze, his body slightly lowering, his right hand moving towards his boot. It rested there while he stared into the shadow. The Shopkeeper only remembered to breathe once he began to slowly back away, his hand moving back to the jacket pocket.

The Shopkeeper heard a low growl of a chuckle come from him. Heading down the last aisle, he stopped again. Removing his sunglasses, she found that his gaze was glued to the dollhouse in front of him.

“What the…” he asked. It was not directed towards the Shopkeeper. It was his turn to remember to breathe, coming in and out in short gasps. Reaching towards it, he closed his eyes.

He knew if he heard the whistling sound of the mortar it most likely meant he would be dead. This time, it was close enough to do damage; not enough to kill him. Killboy wasn’t so lucky. Neither was the LT, getting a face of wall bringing him down. They had hit the grounds, ordered to retreat to the barracks. Wasn’t supposed to get this close to home, but the sneaky bastards didn’t seem to know that.

Those thoughts flew through his mind as he ducked and weaved, diving for cover.

It went all FUBAR real fast. By the end, there wasn’t one Cadidiot left standing from his squad and only a couple of the brass who hadn’t evacuated at the first sign of trouble. The rest of the cannon fodder, like himself, took the r&r inside and out of one of the barracks that missed all the action.

A couple of grunts went AWOL for a few hours when dark dropped. They came back with some honey. They went to a secluded spot, one of the barracks that was only partially splattered, and decided to party. Seven of them: two girls from the village.

Someone had to keep watch; he got elected. Outside, the day’s action was just hitting him. He didn’t mean to doze, his nerves still jangled, but he was out soon after he sat down, rifle at his side.

He awoke with a stabbing pain in his right arm. Eyes flying open, he saw a large sharp looking knife draw back and was heading back down again. His left hand went up in defense while his right went for his side pistol. The knife sliced into his hand, severing the last two fingers off. The pain almost knocked him out. Almost.

Whipping up the gun, he fired five times, head and chest shots made without training his weapon. The assailant was too close. As shoved his hand into his pants pocket, pushing against the fabric to stop the bleeding. Getting up, he knelt, crouching, eyeing the area.

There was no one he could see. Just the dead in front of him. One of the girls they had brought back. She had stabbed him, tried to do it again, but he scragged her. His head hung down for a moment, his body shaking until he remembered the other girl.

He poked his head through one of the holes that opened up from the mortar blast. He saw her shadowed figure, knife in hand, standing over a body on the floor. The light coming in from outside was enough for him to see the other three guys, sprawled out on the floor. The fourth, under the girl, was making gurgling sounds. He raised his gun, aimed, and shot her in the back. Her head exploded, bits and pieces flying.

The three others were dead, throats cut. The fourth got his throat slashed too; it took a little while for him to die. He was found a few hours later, having passed out from blood loss.

Things progressed from there until he found himself wandering the streets back home, not knowing why. Not really caring why.

All of this passed through his mind as he stood in front of the miniature scale barracks in front of him. He opened his eyes and put his sunglasses back on. Shrugging, his jacket adjusted itself around him. He pulled his left hand out of his pocket and gently placed it on the roof of the barracks for a few moments. Looking over to the Shopkeeper, he nodded at her.

“Sorry, ma’am. I don’t think there’s anything I need. Not here.”

She nodded back. She knew.

He stopped again at the shadow in the corner, hands still in his pockets, waiting. He stayed for the same length of time that he paid his respect at the barracks dollhouse: a few moments.

He turned, left the shoppe, and walked away.

This time,  the door chime tinkled.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

The Babenhausen Barracks can be found in Hesse, Germany. The legend I found was that a woman was burned to death as a witch (she turned someone into a newt, but he got better). From that bit of horror, it was said that a ghostly woman haunted the barracks, seduced many soldiers, and then murdered them. Thus, the AD story above. No German soldiers, no witch, but…

Quoth The Riven: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Quoth The Riven

 The Abysmal Dollhouse

Victor was weak, weary, the dreary night neverending. He leaned against tombstone, almost falling over, carved name and dates faded away. Resting over this forgotten soul Victor thought he might stop for a moment, maybe sit down, maybe close his eyes, maybe refresh himself. He was halfway down, already starting to nod off.

The noise came from a short distance behind him, snapping his head up from his chin. That damned tapping, again. Metal on stone. Tap, tap, tapping, until it became a pounding in his skull. Gritting his teeth, eyes ablaze, he screamed out that devil’s name: “Victoria!” Only that, and nothing more.

Harried, he hurried off, jumping o’er a downed sign. If Victor had time, or care, he would still have been able to make out what the sign read: “Westminister Baptist Churchyard.” Even if he had stopped to read it, it would have meant nothing to him, especially being chased. That infernal tap, tap, tapping. The sound propelled him to his feet. He ran.

Pools of light were scattered throughout the yard, lampposts here and there, lit lanterns once in a while. The moonlight leaked through breaks in the clouds then vanished behind the murky sky. The lanterns cast a twisted light, an off yellow hue, giving the grassy ground a look of velvet, the green giving way to a purple haze. Victor’s heart beat faster, more than his exertions demanded. Peering back, the true darkness ate away at what light he left behind him.

Victor cursed as he ran. “Victoria. Victoria. Victoria!” spat out, counterpoints to the tap, tap, tapping. Crashing through the brush, skipping over broken stone, he ran pell-mell, occasionally tripping, falling, scurrying to his feet to try to escape what was coming after him. This last bout of tripping brought him to his knees, panting.

Looking up, gasping for air, was a backlit shadow of a figure. The lamplight was behind it.

“Victoria?” he asked.

The figure stepped into the light, appearing for the first time this go around. Instantly, Victor froze. Instantly, he realized the mistake he’d been making, forgetting it was not Victoria, it was this…thing. Instantly, he saw the gleaming knife.

“No more!” Yelling, he bolted upright, wheeled around, and bolted.

The Unfolding Doll gave chase. The dense air cut by its pursuit. The scent of Victor’s sweat wafted behind him, leaving a trail something sour. The Unfolding Doll did not breathe in, did not smell what her prey produced. What sent it forward, what drove it, was his unbridled fear. It was pouring out of him.

“No more!” he yelled into the darkness in front of him as he raced on. “No more!” His energy, fed more by his fear than anything, began to waver. He drooped. He dropped, eventually, landing on his knees again, hands on the ground.

“Let me be! Let me be. You’ve sliced me apart, dug your blade into me so many times. No more. Please. No more.” Tears brimmed and fell.

The Unfolding Doll came forward. First a jab, then a slice, continuously flitting about him. It stabbed and punctured, skewered and speared, struck and carved. All the while, Victor’s voice pleading “No more, no more, no more”, trailing off into dead silence.

A few aisles over, at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium, a woman screamed out “VICTOR!” In her padded room, on her padded floor, smacking her head into the padded wall, Victoria repeated his name until she fell unconscious.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

Edgar Allen Poe‘s grave resides in Baltimore. The place is supposedly haunted.

Penitentiary Sin: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Penitentiary Sin

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The blood, it splattered, high and wideThe Vorpal blade went deep inside
Jabbing thrice; no more, no less;
Still, the body is left a mess.
The casting of the waning sun
Four p.m.; shadows on the run
The first of this run of demands
The Vorpal knife in his command.

Cleansing the blade of its gore
Rejuvenated, to his core
The Jabber stands and walks away
Day two will come, as will his prey.

The Shopkeeper was well aware that the Unfolding Doll was there, just barely, glaring at her. Her dusting was not enough to keep her mind solely focused on the task. Sighing, she turned and faced the shadowy corner.

“Yes. Come out.”

The shadows rippled. Bit by bit the Unfolding Doll undulated into the light. The Shopkeeper saw that its knife was not in evidence, for now. The doll took a few steps away from the shadow, turning its head towards the front of the shoppe. The light from outside was less glaring at this hour.

It stood like that for a short while. The Shopkeeper waiting, watching. Whatever had been holding the doll in place let it go. Turning towards the back, The Unfolding Doll walked silently over to the Carousel. The Shopkeeper met it there, opposite sides facing each other.

“I know what you want,” the Shopkeeper, blunt-edged said. “I want the same thing. But, I want it done here. Here, where I can…partake in this…need. I need it done here.”

Her head lowered just a touch, her will holding back the tears welling.

“I’m doing what I can, bound as I am. Bound, as you are. I’ve steered… potentials away from Muirhouse. It is teetering on its hunger, its dissatisfaction. Instead of growing weaker, it wants what it feels is owed it.”

The Shopkeeper’s voice had grown sharper as she continued. Her words sliced through the shoppe, sending emotional spasms across the enclosed space. The dollhouses internally vibrated, and heated calls of “Mine, Mine, MINE!” echoed all around her.

“STOP! QUIET!”

Silence immediately swept over the two.

The Shopkeeper breathed deeply, held her breath, let it out slowly.

“I’m duty bound to this shoppe, as are you. I’m bound to you,” she said, this time unable to hold back some tears, “for what happened to you. What my negligence did to you. This is my penance, but it’s also my duty. To you.”

Neither moved. The doll’s button eyes fixated on the watery eyes of the Shopkeeper. They could have remained thus for a long time. Except.

Except, someone, outside, was being drawn to the window. Both heads turned. The Shopkeeper went and retrieved her duster and moved to her counter. The Unfolding Doll just wasn’t.

The door opened. The door chime tinkled. The Shopkeeper smoothed down her clothing.

To be continued…along the way

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

Overture! Curtain! Lights!: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

abandoned_theaters_1

Overture! Curtain! Lights!

The Abysmal Dollhouse

“You killed tonight! You killed!”

The stage manager had swept her into a hug. The last curtain call was now a memory. Everyone had congratulated her as she made her way to her dressing room. The applause was still reverberating through her body, flushed, exhausted, elated.  The stage manager had notes, as she always did, but they were already handed off to the director.  Right now, the notes were not important. Right now, they were alone in the dressing room.

“You killed,” she repeated, sotto voce. “I killed,” the actress agreed, as the hugging turned to more. The greasepaint was removed, the costume stripped off. The sound of kliegs and stage lights being shut off came to them, the closing of doors, the stamping down stairways, the stage door opening and closing. The house shut down, bit by bit.

Opening night and its memory were now three months in the past.  One scathing review, virulent in its attack, quickly trickled down to the box office. The critic’s disdain for the show, for its star, poisoned the good reviews, seeping into future audiences perceptions. The internet picked up on the critic’s vileness and hammered death nails into the production. There was glee from the bloggers whose words were taken up as gospel as their sites hits grew. The vloggers’ views gained followers. It was a numbers game for them.

The show did not go on.

The stage manager eventually booked a gig, a national tour, and was gone. Regional auditions came and went, restaurant service turned over, catering jobs few and far between. The star struggled to keep a smile on, but it faded day by day, replaced by an inner numbness. What was supposed to be her IT, her night of nights, was finis. The emptiness inside of her led to her wandering, from point to point. One night, finding herself walking along the east river, she was tempted to take on Ophelia’s end unto herself. The foot traffic around her was constant and stirred her away from this path.

She was on the way to an audition, having left another, earlier, where things were just “not the right fit.” The sunlight was in full force, no cloud in the sky, and it hit the store window, reflecting off of it, and enveloped her, and only her. A quirk of a smile matched a glint in her eye. She made a quick bow to the window, followed by a light made laugh.

A sigh escaped her as she stood. Tilting her head, she took in the store and moved closer to the window. She laughed again as she was able to make out what was in the window.

“A doll’s house. Perfect.”  She checked her watch and saw she did have time to kill. She made her way inside.

The Shopkeeper greeted her, polite and all smiles, only faltering a moment with a look to the corner. The actress missed this as she marveled at the array surrounding her. She was entranced by the variety of dollhouses, their displays, the colors, the sizes, the architectural styles. To her, they all were mini playhouses. She imagined the roles that could be enacted with each one. The Shopkeeper spoke to her only when a question was asked. She had an odd way about her, with murmurings of the occasional “shhh” or what sounded like “hush,” but since none of it seemed to be directed towards the actress she gave it no weight.

“Look!” the actress squeed. In a flash, she was standing in front of a scaled down version of The Provincetown Theater. “I performed here when I went to NYU.” Her cheeks turned rosy, eyes glistening, as she took in the details.

The structure was narrow and only two stories high. The Shopkeeper released the front and it swung open. The actress squeed again, taking in the sparse seating, the small stage, almost black box in its function. She knew the stairway in the back would take her to the green room, such as it was. It brought back memories that made all the recent unpleasantness disappear from her conscious mind.

A poster announced a production of  The Emperor Jones. She loved O’Neill. She turned to ask the Shopkeeper a question, but when she turned around she was in the lobby, program and ticket in hand.

The inner doors to the theater opened and she walked down the aisle steps to take her seat. Sitting through the performance, applauding wildly at the curtain, she found herself closer to the stage, a new play just ready to begin. The program in her hand showed a different play. This was a treat, a release, and she simply accepted it all without question.

From viewing a series of plays, she found herself working backstage, then eventually performing on stage. First as an understudy, followed by the chorus, supporting actress, and what seemed like forever, leading lady. The lights would dim, no more rehearsing: she knew every part by heart. The applause fed her soul.

The sodden mess that was her heart when not on stage slowly healed. Eventually, it made room to accept the attention of this stage manager, who had been working every show. They fell into each other after one production that took a lot out of everyone working it. They were never without a show to put on, busy on and off stage.

The actress felt like her old self again. It was opening night of a brand new play, and as had become the norm she was the lead once again. The audience was thunderous in its approval, standing ovations and five curtain calls.

The actress flew into the stage managers waiting arms backstage.

“You killed tonight. You killed.”

The actress kissed her long and hard. Take a breath, she looked at her lover and said: “Yes, I did kill!”

Off in the last row, in the darkened corner, the Unfolding Doll sat, knife in hand.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

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.

 

** Apologies to one and all. This was a very stressful day. Normally I am much earlier with my posting, but at least I made it before it became the 18th and P. Phew.