Its eyes fluttered open, less as a part of shaking off sleep and more an affected sign of wakefulness. One moment it was simply lying motionless on the lake-side bench, half hidden by low-hanging maple branches, and the next, this new born’s eyes were set in motion by some force not its own. It sat up straight, hearing the clicks and the clacks as it did so; the tight corset doing nothing to inhibit the action, nor restrict its non-existent breathing.
Something was different.
That something was the doll itself. Looking at its arms, the doll saw smooth, alabaster skin; so shiny that if not for the contrast drawn by the latex of its Gothic, wine-red dress, its faux flesh would have looked like newly molded plastic. Neither hair nor pore spoiled the pale surface, but the gentle kisses of a spring breeze told the doll that the skin was its own.
Seeing the calm lake—as calm as the doll’s own clock-work mind—the doll stood on blocky, heeled, cap shoes. With a jerky gait and sure step it walked over and gazed into the waters; empty, veinless, blue eyes looked back. Eyes that were free. There were no anxious thoughts, nor questions of how this had come to be; only memories of someone else could be seen. Yet past the watery reflection, it scried the ghost of a frightened, overworked woman overlayed onto its perfect face framed by inky locks done up just so: the visage of one who would do anything for peace.
The doll turned, compelled by some unknown will. That same will led the doll down a path, around twists and turns, guiding the newborn unerringly through the labyrinthine forest of maples and pines, unwittingly making its way to the porch of a colonial-style manor where it was greeted by its lounging owner.
“Good morning, Dolly, and happy birthday.”
Dolly was home.
She furrows her brow, unwilling to open her eyes as she wakes to the sound of her answering machine. It’s her boss; one of them at least. He reminds her that she failed to show last night. Light streams through her window, unfiltered by drapes or blinds, just raw sunlight beating her down like everything else. Still, she lies there.
Another boss, another message. Now noon, she has progressed beyond late, to absent, but why should it matter? Her afternoon and night jobs, too, will need to go on without her, but she cannot care. If there was more she could give, it would be given, but that is not the case—has not been for quite a while. She has run herself into the ground, leaving behind an empty shell of a woman. She drifts back to sleep.
Chimes wake her. This was the pager she had been given a week beforer, and, at this new sound, her eyelids snap open as she propels herself into motion. Out of bed, and over the detritus of her life; past the waste bin full of failings, and out of the dwelling that hasn’t been home for a long while. With alacrity she hasn’t exhibited in years, she careens through the halls of this concrete hive, and out into the evening bustle where a maroon limo waits. At odds with the dilapidated neighborhood, it shines as a beacon of hope to a woman who will do anything for peace.
The door opens soundlessly, welcoming her into its womb-like embrace where another woman waits. Dressed in a fine suit and imperceptibly made-up, she is a stark contrast to the disheveled woman entering with her days old, moth-eaten clothes.
“Are you sure about this, Sarah?”
Taking her seat, Sarah laughs and closes the door.