The Doll House

By @sjbernhardt

The Doll House

By @sjbernhardt

A short horror story that won publication years back.

Chapter 1

The door was closed. I cannot tell you when I first realized she was there, standing silent and dormant. Though her face appeared tranquil I could tell there was something dour behind her eyes. Her lingering silence was becoming almost distressing. Something was going on in her mind, something that was trying to mold bleak expressions into her features, though she refused to let it. I was terrified of what she was going to say to me, but her silence was worse, forcing me to create scenarios in my head. Perhaps what she was thinking was only half as bad as what I was fearing. Or perhaps I had no idea of how irritated she may be. Perhaps…perhaps I was mad the entire time, perhaps I had only imagined it all.

“Why did you come?”

Soft words. No anger, no fear. Slow, almost kind sounding words. I was taken off guard, unsure how to respond.

“I don’t know.”

She sighed and lowered her head, her soft hair falling loosely over her shoulders.

“I don’t need this Zane,” she said sadly, “Not from you.”

“Not from me?” I asked, “Don’t say that Mona, I know you.”

“You don’t know me Zane, you never have.”

I didn’t respond. I tried to grasp her arm but she pulled away harshly.

She stormed out. I watched as she walked away, concentrating on the movement of her auburn hair. I knew she’d be back, she always came back. She was meant to be mine the very second I decided it, the very second I saw her face in that little bookstore across the street. Her sweet, beautiful face with the large round eyes and pale, untainted skin, she was perfect. I wanted her to be mine. 

I waited all night, until the clock began taunting me. 4:42, 4:43, 4:44. Before I knew it, it was six o clock in the morning and I was still awake, sitting in the rocking chair by the window watching the sun come up, waiting for her to come back. She didn’t come back though. Not that day and not the next. I thought about going back to her work again but didn’t want to make her angry. She seemed afraid of me. Oh if she only knew how much I loved her. I was going to make her immortal, just like all the others.

I tried to clear my mind of Mona, just for one day and brought myself to the top floor of my home to visit my beautiful Jessica. She was my first love. I stared at her as she stood by her nightstand. Her face was just as perfect and ageless as it was the day I met her all those years ago. She wouldn’t look at me—she never looked at me. She just stood there.

“Ah,” I whispered, running my hands through her dark hair, “I’ve missed you my love.”

I fingered the yellowed lace at the cuff of her white dress, “Your dress is getting tarnished darling. May I suggest a new one?”

         She didn’t answer—she never answered.

         I fumbled through her closet and found a red silk gown that would bell out at the base of her feet and highlight the auburn shine in her eyes. Perfect. I unzipped the white dress slowly, admiring the feel of my flesh against hers as the fabric slipped down around her ankles. She didn’t move to help me but nor to stop me. I tossed the dress in a heap beside the door and stared at her for a moment. I felt ashamed staring at her in all her beauty that way. I left the lace underwear on; I couldn’t bring myself to remove it. I wanted her to feel comfortable of course. I dressed her in the beautiful red gown that made her look like a porcelain doll. She even let me brush her long ebony hair. I kissed her check softly and went to my room to sleep. I hoped she would come into my room that night like she used to, but she didn’t. She never came to me anymore. I slept soundly but I didn’t dream about Mona or Jessica, I dreamed of Caroline. Oh my sweet Caroline, I’m sure she missed me. I awoke early in the morning, burning to see my little blonde angel. I walked the hall passed Jessica’s room, not wanting to wake her of course and brought myself to Caroline’s. Her walls were blue, just like her eyes. I knew she loved it. I saw she was already awake, sitting in a wooden chair beside her bed. 

 

         “I’m here my love,” I said to her. I picked up the soft brush off her nightstand and brushed her golden curls. 

         “You haven’t been taking care of your hair,” I told her, “You know I always loved your hair.” She didn’t look at me even when I spoke to her, “Oh no need to fret,” I told her softly, touching her hair, “I’m not angry with you. I could never be angry.”

         I kissed her softly and that’s when my mind haunted me with thoughts of Mona. I could not stride down the hall into her room. I needed to see her. To admire her beautiful skin once more. I tried to push the thoughts aside and hoped that maybe one more of my loves may help me forget her. I left Caroline and entered the last room in the hall. 

         “I missed you Mai Ling,” I said, “How have you been my little china doll?”

         She didn’t need to answer. I was sure she missed me. The guilt was almost unbearable.

         “Please don’t be sad,” I pleaded, my own eyes almost filled with unshed tears, “I have not forgotten you. I never forget my loves.”

         She didn’t say a word, she didn’t move. Just like all the others. The years had not been as kind to me as they had to my partners, and I feared she no longer found me charming. I just looked into her eyes, waiting for the expression of passion she once showed. There was nothing. Her eyes were empty. I kissed her lips softly but she didn’t return it. Mona crowded my mind again. The others were losing affection for me. It saddened me more than I could tell. I had to see Mona again.

 

I walked into the bookstore and she immediately walked toward me.

“What the hell are you doing here?” she spat. Her green eyes were full and angry.

“I wanted to see you,” I said, “Please Mona. I want to see you tonight.”

She sighed, “We can’t do this Zane.”

“Just give me tonight,” I pleaded, “Just let me show you what I can give you, just once.”

She sighed again and looked away for a moment. “Fine,” she grumbled, “I get off at seven.”

I smiled and nodded, “Thank you.”

I went home to immediately start dinner. I wanted Mona more than I could ever put into words. More than Jessica, more than Caroline and more than my little china doll, Mai Ling. I slaved for hours to make the perfect dinner for my little auburn haired partner. I knew she would let me keep her after tonight. She was going to fall for me as I had fallen for her. 

When she arrived she looked more stunning than she ever had before. She gazed at the table noticing the candles and the beautiful china I had broken out just for her.

“It’s lovely Zane.”

She was the only one who spoke to me; she was the only one who looked at me. The others must have grown bored. I was not as appealing as I was in my younger days. Mona was the only one who didn’t seem to mind. We ate in silence. I watched her closely as she delicately nibbled at her food. I loved the way she moved. She finished her dinner but didn’t yet look at me.

“Mona?”

She finally made eye contact.

“I want to show you what you mean to me.”

She stared into my eyes but didn’t yet respond. “I want you Zane,” she said, “but I don’t know if it can be.”

I stood up from the table and offered her my hand. She grasped my fingers gently and stood to her feet. Her yellow dress accentuated the delicate curves of her perfect body.

“Dance with me,” I whispered.

“Now?”

“Now.”

“There’s no music.”

I smiled, “Of course there is,” I said, “just close your eyes.”

She leaned against me with her eyes closed and we danced. The music was silent but we both heard it. It was the symphony of her heart and her body. Oh how I wanted her then. I leaned in and kissed her passionately. She parted her lips in acceptance and I deepened our kiss. I want to make you immortal I thought. I had to keep her forever. She was the one.

 

So the night ended and Mona sat comfortably on the edge of the bed in her silk night dress where I could see her in all her beauty. I kissed her once more.

“Thank you,” I said to her, “I love you all, but you my darling are the one I adore the most. You are perfect my love.”

She must have been tired because she didn’t look at me.

“I will let you rest,” I told her softly, “good night my love.”

I went to my room and for the first time slept soundly and dreamlessly. As the months passed Mona’s affections began to wane and it made me sad to see her rejecting my adoration. She was like the others now. She never returned my touch or looked longingly into my eyes. I sighed as I went to her room. I kissed her on the forehead.

“I have made you immortal,” I said, “I have made you all immortal and I receive no thanks.”

I wiped a tear from my eye and ventured out that night. Ventured out for the one girl who deserved immortality. A girl who would never lose affections. Until then my other loves waited for me at home—all of them—as they always have and always will—unchanging, not aging—perfect and youthful forever.

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