Mora walked with her older brother down the sidewalk. The soft summer breeze flowing her fiery red braid. They looked straight ahead, not saying a word. A blank expression lied on her face. This was the last day they had of school. Now there was two months of sorrow ahead. The siblings stopped once they reached their house. New house to be precise. It had been only a few days since the funeral, and she was still in morning. Her grandmother had suggested several times to go and get her stuff from her home, but it was too painful. But today, Mora had finally agreed. Her brother, Sed, had already visited. She had often wondered how he showed no emotion when they had died. He was always the optimist, looking at the bright side of things and cheering her up on a bad day. But there was no bright side. And this wasn’t just one day, it was an eternity. Stepping inside the house she let the warmth of her Grandmother’s home comfort her.
“I’m home,” the ten-year old said emotionlessly, and set her backpack down. Sed did the same, and silently walked into the room they now shared.
“Hello dears, back home I see? Didn’t want to play with your friends?” said a friendly voice.
“No, grandma. I don’t want to be around anyone for a while.” Mora started walking toward her room, but her grandmother stopped her.
“Oh no you don’t! Remember your promise? Today is the day you go to collect your things. We can’t have you wearing the same clothes all summer now can we? What would your friends say?”
“What would they say? Ha! They would probably say, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ or ‘I know what you’re going though’ like they care. But fine, if that’s what you want, fine.”
“Okay, I’ll be in the car. You can grab a bag if you like.”
“Hmph,” Mora stepped into the kitchen and grabbed one of the plastic grocery bags her grandma had, and headed out to the car.
It was a short drive, with the house only just a few blocks away. Mora stepped onto the sidewalk and into the front yard of the large Victorian style home. Her home.
The house didn’t look any different from the time of the accident. It was almost like it had been preserved, like time had frozen it in place. As Mora walked into the living room, she picked a picture frame off the coffee table. Tears formed in her eyes as she glanced at her parents. The photo was of them flying a kite, with Sed in the background waving, and the rest taking the photo. Why did they just have to go and die? I needed them! I still need them! She thought for a while, before shoving aside the emotion and putting on a straight face. Mora slipped the picture into the bag, and headed for her room to collect the little clothes she thought she needed.
She pulled out clothing from her drawer and shoved them into the now almost full bag. She didn’t care which outfits she took, so long as they could last her at least a week. Mora blindly put her hand in her pajama drawer, and felt a soft, almost silk like fabric against her hand. She tugged at it, then pulled the cloth out to reveal the full thing. A blue nightgown. Mora smiled a little, it had been a gift from her mom. She had sewn it herself, her mom that is, and Mora wore it at all times in the house afterwards. It seemed only right to wear it now. She closed her door to her room and slipped out of her clothes and into the dress, twirling around to make the skirt flow. Just like old times. She started to tear up again, but shoved it aside just like last time. Then she remembered the attic. It had been where she had kept all of her treasures. Mora stepped out of her room and into the hall, and reached up to grasp the handle on the ceiling. She remembered when she was younger, always asking her brother to pull it down for her. Now she was tall enough to reach. Once at the top, she took in her surroundings. Dusty cardboard boxes were stacked in the corners, and she saw glimpses of jewelry and photos lying inside. Then her eyes fell upon a certain object. A small pink house was in the corner near a window, the paint peeling off of the wood making up the structure. A metal clasp held the house together. It looked much older than she remembered. It seemed to beckon her over, the light shining in from the window making the Dollhouse look like something out of a movie. She walked over to the old thing and undid the clasp holding it together. It sprang open just a bit, but she had to open the rest of it manually. Mora loved this thing when she was little, well, littler. She was greeted with a familiar face, that of one of the dolls who lived there.
“Hello, Miriam. My old friend,” she said, and looked the doll up and down. She had short blond hair, with an over sized pink bow on top. Her lavender eyes corresponding to the dress she wore. Her smiling face staring off into the distance. Then Mora gave a puzzled expression. I don’t think I remember X’s around her eyes. She looked at the rest of the family, and found the same detail was on all of them. Huh, I guess I never noticed it before. She set Miriam down and picked up the father. He had the same red hair as Mora, with green eyes and a tan button-up shirt. Black glasses were painted onto his face. A small patch of chipped paint lay on his leg. The Mother looked the same as the father, except without the glasses and a brown plaid shirt. Mora played with the dolls for a while, until her Grandmother called her down to go. She placed Miriam in her room, and was about to leave when something tugged at the blue nightgown she wore. It was small, and she was about to brush it off, but it came again, harder. She turned around to see Miriam clutching on to the gown with her small hand. She was looking at Mora, the same kind expression painted on her face. Then something she didn’t expect happened. The Doll let go of her dress and motioned for Mora to come closer. She obeyed, shocked yet curious about what had happened. Seeing this, Miriam smiled at her, the paint seemingly animated on her face. She held out her hand towards the girl, and mouthed the words, come home. Mora hesitated, but put her finger in the small dolls hand. Miriam smiled even more, giving an almost insane look, though Mora didn’t notice. Then, without warning, a blinding light filled her eyes and she was knocked out.
Mora woke up slowly. She was still wearing the blue nightgown, but there was more weight on her back. She realized she was laying on her stomach, on top of her back was something soft. She felt the object on top of her, it was a blanket. Rubbing her eyes, she sat up and looked around. She was on a bed, wrapped in a red blanket. The room was an oval, with floor to ceiling windows circling it. As she regained her senses, she heard faint singing coming from next to her. Mora turned her head, and saw a girl in a lavender dress with short blonde hair and a pink bow dancing with herself. The girl turned softly to the beat of the song, to which the words Mora couldn’t make out. Then she noticed her standing there, and grabbed Mora’s hand, continuing the dance. Mora pulled away quickly, and the girl stopped singing. At first she looked hurt, then amused.
“Don’t I look familiar?” She smiled, something about the tone of her voice… It was kind and playful, but something was… off. Mora was about to say a rude remark, but then she saw the shade of her eyes. Purple. Like…
“Miriam?” The girl smiled and nodded her head.
“Uh huh! Oh this is just marvelous! We’re going to be the best of sisters!”
“Don’t you know anything- silly! Why else would we have brought you here? To talk?”
“I didn’t think- You actually-… this is real? It isn’t a dream? I’m actually here?”
“Yup. And here you will stay, one big joyful home.”
“But… what about my family?”
“What about them?” Miriam didn’t know why Mora was being so silly, until the saw the sad expression forming on her face. “Oh, you think you’ll miss them! Poor girl. But, don’t be sad. We’re your family now!”
“Oh…” Miriam smiled pitifully, and gave her a hug, probably to comfort her. Mora noticed that all her grief had gone away, replaced with excitement. The Doll saw it, and smiled even wider.
“Come on, let’s go down to dinner!”
“Dinner? But it’s only 3:00!”
“You were out of it for a while little sis, now come on! Mom’s food is amazing!”
The two girls ran down the stairs and into the dining room, Mora glanced at the closed door next to the table. Must be the kitchen.
“Hello China doll,” Miriam’s father said to Mora, and patted her on the head. “You did very well Miriam, I am proud.” Miriam smiled and nodded her head, then quietly took her seat at long wooden table.
“What did she do?”
“…she was the one who brought you here, remember? She also wrapped you in the blanket, all by herself!”
“Ok then…” she was interrupted by the kitchen door bursting open, and Miriam’s mom stepped out, holding a large platter with a cover. The woman quickly closed the door behind her so she couldn’t see inside.
“Oh! Mora darling! You’re here! I pondered if you would ever join us down here. Go, go, take your seat.” Mora obeyed, and sat down next to Miriam, who was still smiling.
“Oh, Miriam’s mom and dad? Can I just call you normal parent names?”
“I don’t know why you needed to ask in the first place, of course you can,” said her father. “But now, it’s the time for food.”
“Uh huh.” And her Mother whisked the top off the platter, there was a meal Mora didn’t recognize. It was kind of like stir fry, but with much less sauce and an unfamiliar meat. She ate it anyways, everyone else was. Tastes like chicken.
The two girls patted their stomachs as they slipped into their beds. One had appeared for Mora when she was done eating, guess it’s just dollhouse logic.
“Wasn’t this day wonderful!” Miriam exclaimed.
“Wonderful? It was absolutely perfect!” Miriam winced at the word, but quickly returned to her smiling self.
“Well, good night little sister.”
Warm sunlight filled the air, making the atmosphere welcoming to Mora. Echoes of laughter and shouts of delight rung out from the children running past her, obviously enjoying themselves. They were at a carnival after all. Miriam was holding her hand, looking forward. She seemed more in her twenties, rather than 12. They were walking opposite of the crowd on the path, to where Mora didn’t know. Then, a scream louder than the others was heard, but it wasn’t in delight. It was in fear. Mora glanced over at the noise, and found that Miriam was no longer holding her hand. She was holding it out to the person screaming. She was smiling, despite the child’s obvious distress. She moved closer to him, and something began to form in her hand. Then, the last scream heard from the child woke Mora up. And she realized it was hers.
“Mora? Mora are you alright?!” Miriam shook the panting and sweating girl, then she snapped out of it. “Oh good.” The concern draining from her voice.
“M-Miriam?” Mora looked at the doll, and then lunged at her. “Oh Miriam, I had the worst nightmare! We were at a carnival a-and-”
“Shhhhhhhh. Don’t cry, we have a wonderful day ahead of us. I’d rather you save your sweat and energy for it,” Miriam said, her voice soothing. She stroked Mora’s back as the girl hugged her tight. Mora’s grip softened, and she pulled away. “See? Now, let’s head down to breakfast-”
“Yes, little sister?”
“Does my family miss me?” Miriam thought about what to say for a moment, she didn’t want to off set the day.
“They… No. I don’t think so, but we will if you go back to them. We care about you here, little sis. They’re maybe upset, but I don’t think they’re mourning you. C’mon, we have a fun day today!”
“Oh… ok.” The little girl got of the bed, and walked out of the room.
The day wasn’t special, they played games, ate, the most you could do in a Dollhouse. Then it was time to go to bed. And Mora had another dream.
I was at the carnival again. Doing the exact same thing as last time, but Miriam wasn’t there. I came across a man near one of the small shops, I went up to him, for a reason I don’t know.
“Hey, you’re the new member of the Disc family?” said the man, leaning on the stand.
“Heh, yeah. Around here we just go by our factory names. I’ve always wondered how the Disc’s kept their family together. Usually some members get shipped halfway across the country. Although…” the man leaned in closer to me. “Rumor has it that they kidnap who ever owns them. Deal with the devil they say. But I don’t think it’s true.”
“I- thank you, sir.” With that I turned away, and started running down the pathway. I felt the need to get out of here, something didn’t feel right. But the path just kept getting longer and longer, and I found it extremely difficult to run. I called out, but it was impossible to talk. Then everything melted, the fairground turned into a void of deep red. I could see Miriam hunched down in front of me. I went over, but I slowed once I got close. I heard her muttering something, and then it got louder and louder.
“Keep it in keep it in keep it in. Don’t show don’t show don’t show don’t show! Stay still, don’t blink don’t move don’t breathe!!! DON’T FLINCH DON’T SNEEZE DON’T MOVE DON’T BLINK DON’T BREATHE. STAY STILL. BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT BE PERFECT. I’M NOT PERFECT I’M NOT PERFECT I’M NOT PERFECT I’M NOT PERFECT I’M NOT PERFECT I’M NOT PERFECT I’M NOT PERFECT!!!!!!”
I stepped back from Miriam. She ran her fingers through her hair, screaming out the same phrase over and over, until it just turned to plain out screaming. She got to her feet and turned towards me. Her hands were covering her face, and when she walked towards me she stumbled as if drunk.
“WE’RE NOT PERFECT WE’RE NOT PERFECT WE’RE NOT PERFECT.”
She was laughing now, and slicing the air with her hands. Miriam began melting, and my vision began fading away. I reached out to her, but something slashed back at me just as everything faded to black.
Mora woke up in the same state as before. Miriam wasn’t at the foot of her bed like last time though. She checked her bed. She wasn’t there. She looked around the room. Miriam wasn’t here. Mora stepped out of the room, and looked down the hallway. She saw her parent’s door creaked open, so she stepped inside. There, on the foot of her bed, sat her mother.
“What,” she said, obviously annoyed.
“I, um… where’s Miriam?”
“Don’t know, don’t care. Get out.”
“Get your stupid face out of my sight, little girl!”
Mora backed out, and ran down the stairs. Dad. He was nice, he’ll tell me. But, when she came across her father, he was sitting on the couch, watching the TV. How does that even work?
“Ugh, what do you want.”
“Um… where’s Miriam? She wasn’t in our room-”
“Who the hell cares?”
“I do! I don’t know why you all are so mean today but-”
“Oh! Oh YOU care! Pfft. All you care about is your own amusement.”
“F-fine!” Mora said, on the brink of tears. “I’ll find her myself!”
She stormed away, and to the kitchen. Maybe she’s in there. It doesn’t have any windows, it’s a possibility. Dad turned back to the TV, but when he heard the kitchen door being opened, he smiled an insane smile.
Mora stopped in her tracks. Miriam was here alright. But, that wasn’t what was worrying her. The entire room was lined in white tile. An old oven and some storage racks sat on the other table. But, a table and a saw were on the other walls. There was a hanging rope, and a large tub. On the ceiling there was a huge grid, from it hung anything and everything with a blade. There were no windows, and the room was dimly lit by a single light bulb hanging by a thread. In the center stood a small island with a wire basket sitting at the end of it. And everything, was coated head to toe, in deep red, blood.
BAM! A large pounding sound came from where the island stood. Miriam was cutting something up, but blocked what it was. Then, she pushed aside the object into the basket. It was a human arm. It was gushing blood. Miriam grabbed another limb from the pile that was next to her, and began chopping away. Then Mora realized something. The meat in our food. That’s was… that is…
Miriam heard Mora from the corner, and turned her head slightly. Then she went back to work.
“You know, you really are an idiot. I would have expected you to have at least lasted for about half a week, but you are just so eager to be killed. Well, then. I’ll be sure to make it painful.” Miriam turned around and kicked Mora to the wall, then threw the knife she was holding into her shoulder. At amazing speed she joined Mora at the wall and slowly pulled the knife out, blood pouring out of the wound. Mora screamed as loud as she could, tears blurring her vision.
“P-please,” she managed to gasp out.
“Aww, poor baby is crying. Look at me when I’m speaking,” she pulled the hair on the top of Mora’s head, forcing her to look Miriam in the eye. She was terrifying. Paint was teared off of her face, her hair was tangled and choppy. And the X’s around her eyes were strings, weaving in and out of the China making her up. “Oh, so you’ve noticed my stitches! Very necessary. I can’t go around blinking when your playing with me, now can I? But, now I have an eternity to play with you. Isn’t this fun?” She stabbed Mora in the gut this time, and Mora screamed in agony once more.
“PLEASE!! AAAAAAAHHHHH!” Miriam had slashed at her leg, and the cut was deep. Tears streamed down her face, and Miriam wiped them away, leaving blood marks.
“You are no different. Do you know how this feels? DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE? Standing perfectly still, just to be sold and forgotten! I DON’T HAVE A REAL FAMILY BECAUSE OF YOU!! So, we thought that we would just make you live our pain. THIS IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE!!”
She stabbed Mora uncontrollably, waterworks flowing down her eyes.
“NO!! DON’T BEG!! YOU DON’T DESERVE MERCY! YOU DON’T DESERVE YOUR LIFE!! YOU AREN’T PERFECT!! WE AREN’T PERFECT!!!”
“I WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!! I AM NOT MIRIAM!! STOP CALLING ME THAT!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!”
“I AM NOT PERFECT!!!!”
“I’m not… G-gonna let you… Stay… Here l-like this…”
Miriam stood there in shock. She was emotionless, she didn’t move, she didn’t do anything. Mora used the last of her strength to hold Miriam’s free hand. She weakly smiled. Then, the doll was over took with boiling rage. She couldn’t feel anything else besides hatred.
“You’re lying,” she said, completely calm. I went through hell and back, and I had to deal with more than anything you can imagine. I’m not letting you go SO. EASILY,” Miriam plunged the knife into the already bleeding wound on Mora’s stomach.
“U-urgh…” was all Mora had in response, not even having enough strength to scream.
“I hope your last days go as well as mine will.” Darkness surrounded Mora’s line of sight, and the terrifying sight if the kitchen faded away, as she passed out from the pain and all the blood lost, barely clutching the last bit of life she had.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
She could hear the rhythm of her heart on the hospital monitor as Mora slowly regained consciousness. As she got her sense of touch back, she felt heavy quilt-lile blankets on top of her and a plastic tube running down her arm. She opened her eyes and the sight of a hospital room greeted her. At first she was shocked she made it out of the dollhouse, then thrilled. She was just happy she made it out alive. Then, arms wrapped around the girl, gently hugging her.
“You’re okay!” came her grandmother’s voice, at the verge of tears. She let her go. “I waited a while for you to come down but you never did. So, I went and searched the whole house, calling your name the whole time. Mora, after that I heard you screaming! I ran up there… B-but…”
“What? Tell me, please I need to know.” So I wasn’t in there… It was in my head? But how am I in here?
“I-I saw you… Laying on the ground, unconscious and bleeding! Th-the window was open… I called the police and an ambulance took you here… Mora I was so scared! I… I can’t lose another person I can’t…” Through all this crying, she didn’t do a thing in response. ‘What… What happened to me?’ Came across her mind, but her pondering was cut short by her grandmother. “I’ll… leave you be, I guess. You probably just want to be left alone. Your brother will be here soon, he’s at a soccer game and hasn’t checked his phone yet. Heh…” And with that she walked out of the room, leaving Mora there in the hospital bed. She picked up her bag from the table next to her, and looked through it. To her horror however, all the pictures and clothes were already laid out. And in the bag, lay the smiling family, of porcelain dolls she called her friends.