(c) 2008 Kim Knox
He stroked back my real hair with tender finger and I watched the smile curl at the corner of his wide mouth. He always called me his favourite… Again he was pleased with me.
The lids of my eyes rolled forward with a faint click, taking him from my view. The softness of the tissue paper already enclosed my clean, silken gown. I would always be his favourite.
What had I done to deserve this honoured state? I will tell you, if you don’t think it too boastful of me.
Dust-laden air rushed over me with the dying ring of the brass bell. The door to the shop slowly closed over as Mr Pitt lifted me out of my wooden box and laid me out, with care, on the polished wood of the counter.
My eyes rolled back.
I found myself staring up into the anxious, eager face of a tall, thin man. He squinted at me through thick, dirt-stained glasses, his fingers twitching to prod my joints; rub at the fine silk of my gown; pull at the careful stitching of my scalp.
“Her features are so finely carved.” He broke off his scrutiny and glanced up at Mr Pitt.
A smile inched across his narrow mouth. “She looks almost human.”
“She is very rare and precious,” said Mr. Pitt in his soft, cultured voice. “The most treasured possession in this shop.” His arm swept over the darkened interior filled with antique tables and chairs, tallboys, clocks, vases, mechanical toys who trotted through their routine, happily chopping, slicing, stabbing…
“She is beautiful,” the man murmured wistfully.
They set a price and my new owner signed the little red book.
Mr. Pitt carefully wrapped me in soft paper and replaced in my long resting box.
Eager fingers tore at the pale tissue when my box opened again. The man, Edwin Shaw, lifted me up to the stark light, his sharp, green eyes shining. I could see spittle on his lower lip.
“Perfect. Perfect,” he murmured.
He twisted me, making me see the polished cases that lined one wall of the dark-wooded study. A wide, scrape-scratched table stood in the far corner, a glaring lamp showing a dismembered creature. Her limbs littered the surface, her glass eyes staring. Fret and coping saws hung from heavy hooks, along with needles, scalpels, a chisel.
“These are your new friends,” he said, pointing a bony finger to the blank, painted faces of the dolls who sat in their individual cells. “This is Charlotte. That one is Emily. She is Victoria.”
I stared into vacant eyes trapped behind glass. My cell waited for me. Continuous searing light; no privacy; none of the cool, dark comfort of my polished, brass hinged box.
Edwin Shaw sat me behind the glass, staring at me with his yellow-green eyes. Finally, he moved to his bench. I watched him pull on thicker lenses, pushing his eyes wide and round.
The case door was easy to push open, having no lock. Carefully, I slipped out, dropping to the wooden floor on cat-silent feet. Edwin Shaw did not see me. He had eyes only for the soft, waxen head his needles pulled and stitched.
The handle of the chisel slid easily into my china hand . Silent, I climbed on to the table. Edwin Shaw’s rounded eyes blinked as he watched me glide over the rough surface toward him, silken gown softly rustling in my wake. He tried to back away. He stabbed himself in the thumb. His mouth moved incoherently.
Mr Pitt has told me that I should make a big hole in the base of the skull. Edwin Shaw had little hair and the bones were helpfully prominent.
The chisel was very sharp.
One. Two. Three. Four.
Edwin Shaw’s face lay on the table. I pulled away his eye glasses. Bright green eyes stared at me, calm and peaceful. I smiled and wiped away the redness that dribbled down his cheek.
“That’s better,” I said.
I climbed back into my wooden box. It would take me home. Mr Pitt could remove the strange, sticky redness which always coated my silken gown and spattered against my smooth wood. He would brush his thin, pale hand over me, making me shiny and new once again.
I was almost covered in my soft tissue when the brass bell rang out again. My head turned to watch an old woman pick her way through the furniture obscured by the easy darkness of the shop.
A sharp smile stretched her wrinkled face. “What a beautiful doll,” she said.
I am Lamia. His favourite.