Doll

II: Sad

I: Sad

 

The shape obscuring the stars becomes more visible as I adjust to the silhouette. The tired yet piercing eyes of a stranger, all-observing and all-watching, move subtly, and he takes in my whole form. Scanning, as if he’s searching for something within me. A heartbeat, electrical impulses, blood cells. And yet, I still refrain from moving. I am as limp as a doll, as sturdy as a rock. I am part of the earth, and I stare back with my own star-speckled eyes while he looks into my being. I would ask him what he is searching for within me, though there is no pressure for me to do that now. Plus, revealing my life at this moment would be disadvantageous. How would this perfect stranger react? I remain silent, mute. Deadly and cunning as a snake, silent as grass.

He moves. And yet, each movement is muffled, and his grace is akin to a ballet dancer’s. His legs, seemingly more of a strange addition to his body than a permanent fixture, carry him. He is a king atop them, making no effort himself. His arms are lost within a dark garment of some nature, too swamped by night to make out, his hands lodged in the pockets. The night is cold enough for that.

Once he’s satisfied, having looked me over from other angles, while I remain corpse-like on the ground, he retreats a few steps and rummages inside his coat. His hands, silver light illuminating them, are merely shaking slivers against the darkness of his chest. He mutters to himself, shushing out white mists into the air. Before long, he is drawing in the fug of a cigar, letting down sparks and dead matches into the grass below. Instead of white mist, he breathes out grey smoke, trading purity for impurity. By the fat glow of the cigar’s end, I can make out his beard, overgrown and uncared for. Nicotine-stained moustache, and deep blue craters around his eyes. It seems as if sleep is an alien concept to this gentleman.

He crouches in front of me, before lurching to one side, leaning on his elbow. His eyes are back locked on me, that orange light connecting us.

He breathes out his fumes onto me, “Your skin is canvas, your flesh is stuffing, but yet you live,” his voice is familiar, gravelly, ravaged by tobacco. “I can tell you’re alive. Don’t try to avoid me.”

For the first time tonight, I move. I shift my head. Sideways, to look at him, to let my large eyes meet his once again. And he cannot tell where I am looking exactly. When I move, when I turn my head, I hear the creaking of my wooden skeleton, the shifting of the stuffing inside my cloth skull, the needles I have stuck in my head dig in closer and my eyes, the two differently-sized buttons, shifting the light between them.

I am alive.

In my head, my conscious shifts like a young tree. Firmly rooted, but still new and discovering. I will withstand the winds that threaten to snap me, though I am still vulnerable to them. I will continue to grow, nurtured only by myself and my experiences. I needn’t move but I can spread myself, spreading pieces of myself around. Leaves, fabrics. Seeds, string. I repair myself, I spread myself and I am stronger than I seem. And I am conscious. A living doll, a moving cloth child. And yet, older than any child.

The stranger speaks again, knowing he has my attention, knowing he is able to pull my strings, control me at his every whim, because he knows I live. No one else has known. All they have seen is a soft statue, resting demurely on the ground, happy with himself.

But the stranger, his cigar between his teeth, knows more than the rest of this world does about me. Two beings in a field, the only two who know who and what I am. The rest of the world is blind. And yet this man, with the familiar voice and the constant stare, a shadow of any other human, is wise enough to realize, or to remember, that I am myself an anomaly.

I listen to his every word, “What were you before? A spirit, a poltergeist, a restless demon? Finding itself comfortable inside the soft body of a child’s plaything. Such an atrocity. It is below you,” he shifts, and grunts as he pulls himself to his feet. “Rise. Let me hear your body work.”

I: Sad

The anomalies hit me much faster than I was ever used to. Instead of arising from sleep with a head filled with sand and a crick in my neck, feeling stiff as a twig, I instead found myself unable to shut off vision as soon as it returned to me. Eyes glistening with the many miles of stars stretched far above me, and I took in the light string by string. As I noticed each star and counted each moving flashing light high within the twilight velvet sky, I noticed the second anomaly. Although my nose has always been damaged, a defect of my creation, even it picked up the scent of blood on the wind. Air carried it through me, into my mouth where it soaked into the back of my tongue, within my sand-filled head. A heightened state of awareness, perhaps caused by the rush of adrenaline as the iron liquid filled me. And gripping grass between each one of my slender fingers, so tight the muscles could break the slim bones at any moment. I am alert and ready for a sound.

A sound, within the still night. This is calmly normal for me; I expect no noise at the best of times, lying out here in the secluded brush of the landscape. Every insect footstep on every leaf of every tree, nothing would be lost upon me. My ears, hidden though they are, sense the very smallest sounds. Especially now in the silence. My mind struggles so much to determine whether anything I hear is a product of the world or my own imagination. Is the creaking from my bones, or from elsewhere?

I hold myself steady. A third anomaly has become apparent. Shadows, so thin I almost missed them, reach across my body. And the places the shadows flee from is a stunning silvery blue. My own shadow darkens the grass as the light, lethargic, but with intention, moves closer to me. Slow strides, almost completely silent, I realize are coming from the world and not my head. Without a movement nor a sound, I lock myself completely onto the light and the noise. Friend. Foe. Or Neutral?

It will take me less than a second to scatter myself away from the noise if it is cruel. I will scamper, and I will fight. Beside my right hand, my fingers numb to its feel, is my companion. The two sticks, a cross on the grass, and strings confining it. When I touch it, it talks for me. If I cannot tell what the intentions of the noise are, I will let it know I live, that I am in its way.

The light is so close now, so bright and reflecting off my eyes, I can barely see the stars. What was once a sequined cloth crafted by a godly hand, laid over the resting world has become a void, the only shimmering light the one scattering warmth onto the side of my face. This in itself is strange as the night never promises comfort. The night is calm and quiet, but with that comes the frigid temperatures of a world without life, and that world is getting colder. To feel warmth now is close enough to blasphemy that it almost angers me. My fingers silently pull my companion’s sticks into my palm. I grip them – I feel the connection between us form instantly almost feel a heartbeat through the sticks that pulses with mine. A heart that pumps through grey stuffing, but a heart that beats nevertheless. Its mouth is mine, and it will speak for me.

With the light that approaches, I notice our shadows. Mine and my companion’s. There I am, stretched tight on the grass, a shocking darkness against the white light that seems to come straight down from the sky. And the mound beside my shadow is my companion’s. Joined at the hip, we are congealed into a singular mass, so strong with ourselves and our hearts so combined it knows what I need to say, and what I want to hear. Its shadow stretches into mine, and mine into its, a combination borne of the shyness of the light. And a sharp outline of the sticks, raised a little way above our bodies. Rubbed smooth by my fingers over years of attention and necessity. Indents, catches and marks are the scars of our time together, from where my anger was too great, from where I dropped my companion in the brambles once too often. Similar, the stitchings on its body. Thorns tear thought cloth, through the polka dot blue fabric I used to patch the previous hole to reveal the same one, where stuffing will be pushed out by the aching heart within its chest. And that heart aches with mine.

The fabric is even more illuminated by the light approaching us, and I have still not moved. I have not judged whether this stranger is a friend or foe yet. Or Neutral. I have merely stayed completely still, a cat trying to hide in its own darkness. Trying to decide whether to run or to stay resting. To wonder if the light will try to touch me, or lie down next to me to hear my companion tell it all about the stars we will both be looking at. The stars I am currently lying under. The stars they are currently standing under.

I silently grip my companion’s sticks, as I hear the half-quiet rustling of the stranger halt just behind my head. I daren’t move, so I listen, and I look. My eyes readjust and I see the stars spark back to life, as well as notice the new life currently tilting their head down at me.

 

II: Sad