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Comptine d'Un Autre Été
I gently ran my fingers over the soft, almost porcelain face. So beautiful. So young. So innocent. I brushed the stray strands of the bangs from the forehead. I shivered. So soft. I pondered her life, what little I knew of it. Such a darling creature. Perfect. Blonde, bouncy curls. I began again. I watched my hands as they steadily pulled the needle in and out. She shall be perfect, I think. Her infinite smile will be so fitting to my collection. My threadwork is done. I tied the last knot and sat down my needle and thread. Perfect. I study her for a moment. So Lovely.
I slowly walked away to the antique chest of drawers in the back of my sewing room. I clasped the handles on the top left drawer with both hands. It slid open. I graciously sifted through the dresses I had collected over my years. I spotted one underneath the rest that I had been saving for a perfect occasion. It would be just the thing. I cautiously removed it and restored the drawer to its rightful place. I took the dress in my hands again and unfolded it. The dashing white sundress was embroidered with small flowers. I could imagine her running through the meadow again, this sundress blazing white, a beautiful complement to her pale skin. I brought the dress close to my face and breathed in the smell. Musty, but full of memory.
I sauntered back towards my doll. I carefully lay the dress beside her. It will be a perfect fit. I can imagine it perfectly. I examine her face again. The blush looked endearing. I tenderly lay my thumbs on her eyelids and lift them up, exposing her exquisite, azure eyes.
The bell rings. Damn.
I gently caressed her cheek before I grudgingly stroll into the main lobby of my store. I warily closed the door behind me. A young man was gazing upon the vast collection of dolls I had. I observed his young face. It was obvious that he had hardly hit his mid-twenties, but was overworked. He was tall, but not lanky. His brown hair looked soft, but slightly disheveled. He had a determined poise. Each move he made and each move of his eyes was deliberate. His look was perplexed. I smirked as I thought of how they were all the same. No one understood. Every last one had a story…
“Good afternoon, sir.” I said.
His looked turned from my dolls to me. Our eyes met. He had shocking blue eyes. Not as gorgeous as my little angel in the back, however. He apparently had not seen me. He didn’t seem the type to be caught off guard.
"Oh, uh,” he cleared his throat. “Hello. I'm looking for a doll for my niece… she's five."
My smile began to grow.
“What is she like?” I asked as I began to walk towards the man. “Your niece?”
He took a long pause before answering me; he was studying my face, my expression, but I had nothing to hide.
"Well… she's turning five tomorrow. She loves playing with her Barbies, but I thought she might like a real doll."
“I think I have one that would be perfect for your occasion,” I say, smiling, as I guided him with my eyes to the back right corner of the store. Julianne, I had immediately thought. I had made her on her very birthday. I walked slowly to her and picked her up, holding her gently in my palms.
“Her name is Julianne,” I explained, showing her off. She was wearing a festive, rose dress. Her head was topped with a confetti party hat, her gorgeous dark brown hair in braids, and a balloon reading ‘Happy Birthday’ in hand. Ideal for this man’s birthday girl… I remembered Julianne well. Such a cheerful, young girl, bless her soul. Only five. Not a care in the world. That was the only flaw with youth. I remembered Julianne’s face… I had never seen darker brown eyes. This doll did her no justice…
“Oh, my niece will love her!” The man said, seemingly excited that I had adequately picked a doll for him. I mentally scoffed. I was no amateur. I knew what I was doing and I knew it well. I was an expert. How dare he doubt my abilities? He started to reach for her. My Julianne! What was he thinking?! I was too shocked by his blunt approach to repel. He takes her from me. My Julianne was out of my grasp. She had never been held by another. And there she was, in the hands of this man I didn’t know. Her pristine braids brushed his skin, her dress rumpled under his firm grasp, much too firm for her delicate body. And then… she slips. Falls from his hands. I watch her descend.
Her precious body hits the floor and shatters. Her fragile skin was in a thousand pieces underfoot. Her dress collapsed as her torso exploded. Her tiny shoes and legs spread from her body and splintered. The sound was as if an antique vase had been dropped, an atomic bomb in the middle of a meadow… and there she was. My Julianne… ruined. There was a moment of deafening silence before I knelt down to her, eyes welling with tears. That murderer. He killed her. He killed my Julianne. I picked up her petite head and turned it in my hand gently. The lock of Julianne’s hair tucked gently away on the inside of her head fell to the ground. I picked it up as well and clasped it to my chest. She was gone. I bowed my head as I stood up.
“Oh my god,” I hear him mutter, as he recovered from his initial shock. “I’m so sorry! I’ll still pay for it!”
“It’s not the money that matters.” I snap.
I turned to grab a dustpan from the closet just a few feet away. A salty tear rolled down my cheek. That murderer, I thought again, He killed my little girl.
I could feel his eyes on me as I took the golden, tarnished dust pan in my hand, the brush in the other and stood up. His eyes widened as he blurted out,
“I really am sorry, ma’am… I’ll pay for it! … And another!”
HER, I corrected him in my head. She’s not an ‘IT’. Her.
I knelt down by her remains once more. I gently swiped her shattered skin into the pan.
“Here, let me help,” the man said as he bent down.
“No.” I said sternly. I didn’t want his blasted help.
Against my will, he began to pick up the larger pieces.
“Stop!” I said, louder, though I know he had heard me. I watched his face as his expression changed from anguish to fear.
Suddenly, he did stop. I followed his arms down to what was in his hand. The lock of Julianne’s hair. He stared into his open palm in disbelief, rubbing the hairs between his thumbs.
“Wait, what is this?” He said, beyond his own wonder. “This isn’t synthetic.” He continued, his voice cracking with fear.
“Give me that.” I said as I snatched the lock from his open palm. I clasped it tight in my hand. What more could he possible want with her? He had already killed her. I opened my clenched fist slightly to peer at the hairs… they were still as beautiful as they day I had picked them, like young, blooming flowers atop her head. A garden of zinnias, chrysanthemums, and baby’s breath. Beautiful, varying colors; each strand as unique as the next.
“What are you doing to these dolls?” The man said, disrupting my thoughts. He looked me in the eyes. He saw through me. In that instant, I knew that he was aware. He was more perceptive than I had anticipated. He knew. He knew too much. I clasped my hand again. I took the dust pan with me.
“You need to leave.” I said sternly, briskly standing up with the lock of hair in hand and rushing behind the small counter I had, topped with a golden, antique cash register. I poured the shattered remains of Julianne in the trash.
“No.” He says, standing up. “No, what is that?”
My back was to him but I could feel his eyes boring into the back of my head. I sucked in a breath of air. This man could not take a hint.
“You need to leave.” I repeated.
“Ma’am,” He said, stepping closer to me. “Please, what are you doing to these dolls?”
He was right behind the counter now.
Silence. I clenched the dust pan in my right hand.
“You. Need. To. LEAVE!” I screamed, as I spun around, slamming the dust pan into the side of his head.
Finally, he was quiet. His eyes rolled back into his head, and he fell to the floor. I watched him for a moment. He didn’t move. He was rather handsome when he wasn’t being absurd. His hair was a lovely shade of oak and chestnut. His skin was pale, it was apparent that he spent most of his time inside. I laid the dust pan on the counter and walked around to him. I knelt on the floor next to him. His face was tired and round. He was still a baby. I touched his face. His skin was smooth. I shivered. I ran my fingers over his eyelids, down the bridge of his nose, to his lips… his lips were plump and pink. I hadn’t noticed before. They were… perfect. My internal voice almost didn’t want to agree. But it was true. His undefined facial features gave him a sense of innocence. He’s perfect.
I clasped his hand in mine and traced the features of his face again. His forehead, his eyelids, his nose, his lips. I tucked my head into his shoulder blade and took in his sophisticated scent. I took my free hand and ran my fingers through his soft bronze hair. I could feel the tremor as it started from my feet and moved swiftly through my head. I rolled him flat on his back and straightened him out. I wasn’t used to adults. In fact, I had never transported an adult before. He was my first…
I opened the door to my back room again and had to stop in awe as my angle laid gracefully on the table. She was so majestic… and almost done. I had to walk past her to get a syringe from the cabinet above. I gently stroked her hand as I walked past again. I knelt down next to the handsome man once more and injected his arm with the Bradycardium. It wouldn’t kill him… it would only slow his heart beat to a near stop. He would wait. I could wait.
I grasped my hands around his ankles and pulled. He was a rather large man, but easy enough to drag. I pulled with all my might to at least get him to the back room with my little angel. There, he would wait.
I check on him repeatedly. I couldn’t sleep. The thought of him lying there in my back room… so close… I had to see him. I sat by him all night… just studying him: his face, his body, the grooves of his hands, his fingerprints, the creases of his lips, his soft dimples on his cheeks, the shape of his fingernails… he was so interesting. It was as if I had never actually seen a man before. I have seen men before of course… but I have never really studied one. What fascinating creatures they are! How perfect this man was… sweet, soft, and gentle. He was like a dove amongst a murder of crows.
He had drawn me away from my little angle. My little girl… none had ever consumed my mind as this man had. He made me very worrisome, but I didn’t want him to wake up. His was perfect asleep, resting like a god floating upon guilt free cloud. I couldn’t let him interfere with my work though. You have to keep working, I told myself. He doesn’t change anything. So I set him a comfortable spot in the corner of my workroom. There, he could wait. Oliver, as I had finally figured his name. There, Oliver could wait.
I hummed as I affectionately brushed the peach colored blush over my little angel’s cheeks. She looked absolutely stunning in the sundress. Of course, it was a perfect fit. I swayed to my right to open a drawer from the counter and retrieve the curling iron. I quickly plug it into the socket right above my doll’s head. Annabelle. An appropriate name for such an angelic creature. She was almost finished.
Still humming, I recalled the beautiful piano melodies I had heard so many times before as they swirled around me, consuming my reality. The solemn beginning, the building, ecstatic climax, and the slowly transcending close. The song held its own story. To me, it spoke of life: slow to begin, but eager to learn. One starts with simple melodies, but over time they become more complex. Then, we are eager; Eager to learn, eager to love. But before one knows it, life is over.
I want to cherish the eager times. All should cherish these times that are so precious; the innocent times in life. For once we grow old, we lose our innocence. Lives are full of bustle. There is never time to enjoy, to be eager. Time is for work for work is money. With innocence, there is no sense of money. No sense of need, only of want. This naïve outlook and perspective of the world is one to crave. Before we know how priceless these times are, they are gone. Youth is corrupted so young. To preserve that innocence… it’s a favor.
My song came to a close. No sooner did I bask in the momentary silence than did I hear rustling behind me. I whipped around to find the beautiful creature staring at me, a dazed look in his eyes… still drowsy from the drugs… why was he awake?
“Comptine d'Un Autre Été…” he said sluggishly. It took me a moment to decipher.
“Rhyme of Another Summer.”
I gasped. The song. He knew the song.
I paused. “How did you know?” I questioned, quietly.
“It’s a song,” he paused for a breath, “for those with a soul. You’re despicable”
I contemplated this as I opened the cabinet above Annabelle and took out another syringe.
“Is that right?” I murmured.
“You’re heartless,” he gasped, “and have no soul.”
“You know,” I muttered, as I walked towards him, not even glancing at his face, “you’re much more beautiful when asleep.”
Before he could say another word, I stuck the syringe in his neck and slowly pressed the end down, injecting the serum directly into his vein. He went limp again. I dropped the syringe by his feet and solemnly meandered to the closet… my storage closet. I opened the door and pulled the chain above to turn on the light. It shines as a sun upon all the bright, glowing faces of my dolls. I glanced at all of them. All of the beautiful, precious young girls whose innocence I had preserved. Shed from their worldly, bodily needs these girls will have that innocence of their hearts and souls preserved forever. Their insides filled with the finest Egyptian cottons, these girls have become my dolls, my beautiful, innocent, precious dolls along with a porcelain counterpart. These girls… they were my soul.
Soon, Oliver will join them. For like them, he too was so innocent and peaceful, but only when rid of his worldly ties. Only when asleep in his sluggish trance was his childlike naivety shown. This is the most beautiful thing people can possess. Innocence. The ability to accept and trust. As we grow, this trust and acceptance is demolished by the world. All these girls, seventeen graceful, majestic girls, will have their innocence preserved forever. Never will they have to worry about the hardships of the world. They can forever live in their peaceful harmony of childhood.