Sunday, 15 January 2017

The doll


The young woman sits in her flat, fantasising about firemen as she has done many times before.

She has reverted to the standard scenario of 'toe stuck in bath tap; downstairs door locked; firemen forced to enter via upstairs window by ladder; water still pleasantly warm in bath, etc.' because the real event, when it happened, was profoundly unfulfilling.

He didn't look like a fireman when she chatted to him in the pub, but the somewhat over-weight, middle aged, married man that he became when off duty and out of uniform, without the huge yellow helmet hiding his receding hair-line.

It had all been over and done with in a sweaty and hurried, drunken struggle, and then he had left immediately to avoid having to fabricate an over-elaborate reason to explain his lateness to his waiting wife.

She had agreed to join him at the archery sessions he held on the following Saturday, but was regretting it. She did not want to repeat the experience, and had no interest in archery whatsoever.

Drifting between fantasy and reality, she becomes aware of a persistent and insistent sound coming from the street outside. A dog is hoarsley barking down on the pavement, and the unchanging volume of it tells her that it is not moving.

She imagines it to be tethered to a lampost, waiting for its owner to come out of a nearby shop and tries to ignore it, but the barking continues for too long, so she summons a mental picture of the street outside her front door. She remembers that there is no post of any kind near enough for the dog to be tied to, so she rises from the chair and goes to the window to investigate.

Down on the pavement, there is an old, large and mangey-looking dog with some indistinct object at its feet. It is staring straight up at her and when she reaches the window, it momentarilly stops barking as its eyes meet hers, then it continues again a little more persistently. Some people walking past pause briefly to look up at her. She wants to explain that this dog is nothing to do with her - she has never seen it before - but decides to go down to see what it wants.

She opens the door and the dog immediatelt puts his head over the threshold, drops the object on the mat at her feet, then turns to walk away in the direction of the station. It is a child's doll.

She takes the doll upstairs and throws it on a table before putting on the kettle to make some tea. When she has the tea in a cup, she goes back to the table and picks up the doll again to examine it more closely.

It is extremely well made for a toy, and the clothes on it are of a microscopically fine and intricately made exquisiteness. She finds a magnifying glass in a drawer and looks closer still. She has never seen fabric like this.

As she turns the little doll over in her hands, it slowly dawns on her that there is something extremely unusual about it. She rolls the thing around through 360 degrees, trying to focus on the minute weft of the fabric. She thinks she must have missed something, but she cannot decide what.

Then she understands. There are no seams on the cloth of the doll's clothes. The only way they could have been made would be to weave the fabric around the doll itself, which would have been impossible.

Feeling slightly faint, she puts the doll into a drawer with the magnifying glass and runs a bath.


21 comments:

  1. One shouldn't put dreams into a drawer, never - and not content oneself wird third or seventh best (as that fireman). No tepid water nor tepid men.
    Like your story - and as I hate the word "should" will think about a better one.

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  2. You remind me of Clive Barker.

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    1. That is meant as a compliment.

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    2. I don't know Clive Barker. I had better not get to know him. When I first showed someone the proper version of this, they said I reminded them of Tom Sharpe, and that put me off for a couple of years until I forgot about it.

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    3. Sorry. Perhaps you had better not look him up but I think you would see what I mean if you did. I am reading his book Weaveworld at the moment. Strange but nice that it is called Weaveworld I thought.

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    4. Does the narrator go out alot for delicious cream teas with friends?

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    5. No but the more I think about it the more I think you are so Clive Barker. (And he is nothing like Tom Sharpe).

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  3. I am keeping all this in the present tense with as few descriptions as possible. I want it visual.

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    1. Oh, and by the way, everything in it is based on real events, believe it or not.

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  4. In spite of my granddaughter convincing me, over Christmas, that horror films are "not real," this is not a film. It's a book or a story, and I can see and feel the edges of terror. I don't do this genre well. I'll read the last sentence of each page, to attempt to assemble the plot, but avoid the horror. Thank goodness that in your other mind you fall into cream teas.

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    1. I now have an endearing image of you as Piglet in Winnie the Pooh, Joanne.

      This isn't horror - the last line gets close to it, but it is really fantasy, despite being based in truth.

      The trouble is that when you get rid of the dialogue, the scope for humour is limited. I have always thought of this story as comic fantasy.

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  5. For me this had rather dark colours, while not depressing it was like a dream where one wonders what will happen next, but from which one is glad to wake up...

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  6. I read The Doll yesterday morning, and also The Arrow. At that time I didn't quite know what I wanted to comment and went out and about to take care of some errands that took longer than I'd thought.

    By the time I got home it was time to prepare and eat supper. Then it was time to watch the Sherlock finale, followed by the initial episode of Victoria. That is much more television watching than is normal for me. I was knitting while I watched the programs.

    Lights out after that. Woke up at 4, also unusual for me, and was aware of some sort of dream that seemed to blend aspects from the two tv shows along with knitting puzzles.

    I realized I'd forgotten to shut down my computer, and decided to check on overnight news from abroad. Learned that British currency had reached another low, even as the market soared. I shut down the computer, and returned to the land of nod, without retuning to my complicated dream.

    Our banks are closed today in observation of Martin Luther King's birthday. I might buy some more pounds when the banks reopen tomorrow if the exchange rate is still additionally favorable.

    I liked both of your stories very much, even though some of the unpleasant goings on made me squirm a bit. Will you be posting more stories?

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    1. The last Sherlock was slated, and for good reason I think. They need to stick to solving crimes.

      Yes, these things are very brief accounts of various chapters of one thing.

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    2. I LOVED the last Sherlock !! XXXX

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    3. I liked it, but has gone right off the original rails, I think. Too clever for its own good.

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  7. Are you a morning or an evening person?

    Are you a lark or an owl?

    I work best between 6.00am and 9.00am, which is why I hardly ever work.

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