Barbara Holm

Barbara Holm, stand up comedian

Dollhouse

by Barbara Holm

The window was closed the roar of the garbage truck permeated the glass pane. Bright green and smelly, it rolled down the street with a monstrous growl. I peered over the sill and smiled with my lips, wrapped in two hoodies over my nightgown that made me feel secret and safe.

Behind me Edith watched in displeasure. It wasn’t her fault; it’s just her natural face. Or rather, it is her unnatural face because it is plastic and fake, obviously. I turned around and glared at her.

“Edith, stop staring at me, please,” I said with a harsh snap.

She continued staring at me. I reached over and touched her stiff, lifeless little body. She had ugly eyes, which is a difficult attribute to accomplish. Hers were plastic, just an extension of her face. They were cartoon crayola blue with white spots sitting in them to signify how light would catch them were they real. But they weren’t and would never be.

“Edith, you do not get to watch me anymore!” I screamed with unbridled rage. I picked her up and spun her around so she was facing the wall. Her plastic jointless legs stuck straight out pointing towards the future, an empty white wall. “Don’t complain, Edith.”

Edith wasn’t like Bernadette, who had glass eyes. They looked like shiny marbles and I wanted to pluck them out of her pretty skull and put the cool glass balls into my ears where they could be covered in yellow splotchy wax for luck.

I turned and looked out the window. Sitting on my bed I could see through the thresholds into the entire neighborhood’s rooms. Across the street my neighbor was folding laundry and talking to her children. She stood in a warm pool of golden butter, or maybe the kitchen light. She folded something that looked like a sweater. A cocker spaniel ran through the room and jumped on her leg and she kicked him off. The kids screamed. I leaned against the pillow on my headspread and reached down between my thighs. The woman yelled at her dog while her children sobbed and my fingers glided up towards me.

“See, Edith, if you had been a good girl you could have watched this with Bernadette and Jenny and the other dolls,” I whispered, my voice breathy and sing songy.

Below me my mother walked around the kitchen. Her high heals clacked against the hardwood floors as the fridge opened and something glass was taken out. The fridge closed and there were a few clinks. The television turned on and something poured into a glass with an audible glug.

My room was clean, contrasting with the rooms inside my mind. It was filled with pink and white pillows, sheer draping sheets, and dozens of toys and dolls and games, lining the shelf and staring at me. When I had been a real child my room was never like this. It had been messy, dirty even, and garish and loud. There had been a Poster for Labrynth across from my bed, framed in seashells I had hand collected, painted blue, and pinned to the wall. I thought I was going to marry the Goblin King, played by David Bowie, and I sang him songs and kissed the poster and rubbed my pre pubescent body up and down the shiny image.

All of that which was my childhood is gone now and replaced with sweet easter-like decor. All of my violent comic books and monster toys were replaced with porcelain and plastic dolls in frilly dresses and old fashioned hats. They watched me with glass or plastic eyes, smiling sweetly, barely showing any teeth. I wondered if they secretly had fangs that could devour me in my sleep. Their perfect hair curled in perfect dry ringlets like swirls of loathing and hatred cascading down their faces.

It was only now in my fragmented, shattered, miserable adulthood, that I got to be a little girl.

Downstairs I could hear my mother crying. I leaned back in my bed, wrapped my fluffy white duvet around me, and continued touching myself. My eyes were locked on the neighbor now playing go fish with her kids. Even from across the street, behind lamposts, gardens, discarded toys, I could see the mother was cheating, peaking at the cards. Her eyes were tired and she propped her head in her hands, leaning her elbows against the table.

We were just another white two story neat little house, sitting in a mathematically organized row on our street, stretching out towards a park on one side with children playing in the swings. Dozens of curtains framed little windows, peering out into oblivion. The dolls watched my rigid back, smiling cold knowing glares.

Unable to cry anymore because I am no longer real, my skin tightened around my eyes. I felt my body turn stiff and cold under my nightgown. My arms were locked at the elbows; with joints just for looks. My hair fell across my face and I was another doll. I had fallen from the shelf and cracked my perfect porcelain face and upturned my fluffy pink petticoat but my glass eyes were still shining like dead cold marbles.

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