Christmas is over, and there was one gift on my list that I didn’t get. It’s been on my mind for weeks, consuming my every second, reminders screaming at me from the street of the one thing I lack.
Valentine’s Day is coming, but I can’t even think of a candle lit date with a lover. Lovers are ten a Penny. I can find a new plaything in an instant, but there was another craving, something so essential that I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t function, until I had what I needed.
I needed to be a mother.
I’d see them everywhere I went. Happy women with bouncing, blossoming babies. They’d share smiles with their little ones, a kind of love I’d never quite captured, and as I watched them pass me by, I felt empty and alone.
My dolls were no help, staring back at me in silence as I sobbed, until their stares became glares, and that was the moment I realised that they shared my need. The flat was so quiet. We needed a child of our own to be a real family. My dolls dreamt of someone to play with them, and I dreamt of a child of my own to give all the love that soared within me.
It wasn’t easy. Babies are so heavily guarded. Mother’s instinct, I suppose, a protective, possessive power that keeps their infants shielded, so a baby was out of the question. I tried, of course, but I could barely get close. Those witches, selfish and furious, wouldn’t share their blessings with me, so I had no choice but to look elsewhere.
As children get older, it seems their parents care less. They let them play a little further away in the park. They let them walk to school in little groups. They let them go to the corner shop all alone, and that was how I met my daughter.
She left the shop with an armful of sweets, and our eyes met as I sat on the bench across from the door. I waved, her eyes lighting up as she spotted the huge pile of sweets beside me on the bench. It didn’t matter that she already had sweets of her own, every child wants more, and I had plenty to spare.
She ran towards me with a bright smile, and that was when I knew I’d found my little girl. She may have been born to someone else, but she was always meant to find her way to me. She was always meant to be my daughter.
We talked for a while as I watched her, overwhelmed with choice, picking through the sweets. She told me that her name was Chelsea, but I made a note to change it later. It just wasn’t the kind of thing I envisioned for my little Princess, you know?
She was about to go, worried about getting home to do her homework when I asked her if she’d like to have a tea party with my dolls. She was only six years old, after all, and there was plenty of time for homework, so why shouldn’t she have a little fun?
She couldn’t say no, taking my hand and walking back towards the flat with me, her face glowing with the biggest smile I’d ever seen.
I thought she’d be surprised, maybe even a little frightened when she got home and saw my dolls. I’d dressed them up nicely and made them look their best, but they can still be a bit of a shock the first time somebody sees them, especially Marilyn, due to her difficulties since Pumpkin’s fixed her up for me, but Violet wasn’t scared at all.
I decided to call her Violet, because my mother always liked floral names.
When we arrived home, the dolls were sat around the table as Marilyn struggled to fix some sandwiches, her jaw dropped, but no scream audible as the knife went back and forth over her limp wrist. I ran and pulled the knife from her flesh, mopping the blood from the sideboard, and Violet just sat down at the dining table smiling over at me.
Once I’d cleaned Marilyn up and put her to bed, Violet and I shared tea and sandwiches, talking about her favourite books and cartoons. We braided the hair of my dolls with hair long enough and did make up for the rest, and as time went on, I forgot that someone else had stolen so much time with my little girl from me, and I got lost in how happy I was, smiling, just like all the women I’d seen.
As I tucked her in and read her a story, she began to ask about her “Mummy”, and after a little back and forth, we agreed that I was her Mummy and the woman before was just a nasty imposter. She still argued with me about it, even after we agreed, but that’s kids for you, so childish.
It was just a phase. She was up bright and early the next day, pulling at the front door and yelling, probably eager to get to school, but I pulled her back towards the living room, deciding then and there that she needed to be home schooled.
She began to cry sometime around lunch and she didn’t stop until long after sunset. I gave her sweets. I let her pick any doll she wanted to play with. I let her watch television, until she saw herself on a breaking news bulletin and freaked out. I tried everything, but she wouldn’t stop crying, and her crying had begun to become shrieking.
I didn’t want to resort to it, but I had no choice but to call an old friend. Within minutes, Pumpkins had arrived, Marilyn shrinking away in tears as she saw him stride past her in the kitchen. He rounded on Violet, eyeing up the restraints on the bed as she struggled against them, and simply shrugging, deciding that it wasn’t his business.
I didn’t want to do it. I’d have preferred my little girl to remain as she was, rather than becoming another living doll like Marilyn. I already had a living doll! And besides, Violet was my heir, my very own little girl, and I wanted to be able to teach her so many things, but… her screaming was going to attract unwanted attention, so if Pumpkins stealing her light would shut her up, then it was a sacrifice I had to make.
He winced at her weeping but knelt beside the bed, stroking her cheek gently as he kissed her forehead, preparing to snatch her soul, but as his lips lingered and her screams rang out, I realised that something was wrong.
“I don’t have anything for him to take, Mummy.” Violet whispered, her voice still and her sobbing silenced as our eyes met and her own flashed with anger.
Pumpkins backed away, giving me one last look of pity from the small holes in his mask before he ran from the flat without a word. Violet gazed up at me, motioning with her tied hands to the kitchen.
“Bring me some biscuits.” She snarled. “And a new dolly.”
Motherhood isn’t quite what I thought it would be. You see, dearest diary, I’ve finally met my match. I understand why her parents let her out all by herself when she was such a little girl.
She was no such thing. I still don’t know what she is. She has no soul and she certainly isn’t human, but, my dearest, darling diary, she is my little girl, and I will love her all my life, or as long as she lets me live.
The Puppet Mistress