Short Story
                   The Dollhouse
                                          By Jennifer L. Gifford

  I’m an artist.  I confine myself to one simple medium, but my art is one of a
kind.  Working in fear and pain, much the way Picasso worked in oils; I utilize
whatever tools I have around me to complete my dark masterpieces.  I
specialize in the macabre, emulating the dark essence of it, capturing it in all
its dark twisted beauty.  Death, sweet death, is my greatest creation.

  My pieces are never seen by others, and while one day I hope that my
creations bring me notoriety, I make them for the soul purpose of my own
enjoyment.  They are my creations, though they didn’t start out that way.  At
first they belonged to God, but I stole them from Him, and I made them mine

  My pieces as a novice were rough, choppy, and out of proportion with the
form.  But over time I learned to correct the broken limbs, the pasty
complexion, and yellowish skin that had once been a drain on my energies,
not to mention the scarcity of my precious resources.  Much like any other
hobby, it takes practice, dedication, and commitment.

  Helena was my first success.  She was so breathtaking, and still is, I
sometimes sit in awe of my own handiwork.  She was handpicked from
hundreds of others.  It was her face that captivated me, drew me to her.  
Helena was special.

  She had a heart shaped face, soft and round with the cheeks of a cherub.  
Her hair flowed around her feminine features like spun corn silk.  And the
eyes, oh the eyes, so full and round--like her lips--were deep pools of

  I took her one night, bringing her to my studio, where I do all my work.  I
prepare them there, before putting them in the dollhouse.  The building is old,
a three story brick structure down along the Detroit River, and I own the whole
building.  It’s in a seedy part of town where everyone minds their own
business, and doesn’t ask questions.  But its quiet and I need quiet when I

  The dolls always seemed so shocked to find themselves my helpless guest.  
I believe it’s because they have never been in the presence of a true artist
before, so I imagine that is where their anxiety comes from.

  I gave her a lethal dose of sedatives.  It’s my own personal blend of
prescription painkillers and good old fashioned laudanum.

  It’s best to wait until they are fully asleep before inserting the thick
embalming needle into the side of their neck, near the carotid artery.
Sometimes a dolls eye’s will flutter open catching sight of the needle sticking
out of her neck. It’s an intoxicating to watch as the fear washes over them in
their last moments.  

  The needle is hollow, and with the needle at the neck, it’s easier to elevate
the doll to let the blood drain.  I empty it of blood, but not completely.  That
small amount of life left in them keeps them warm just long enough for me to
prepare them.  I must also admit, it’s here that I get a rush knowing that their
last precious drop of divinity is controlled by me.

  Starting with her lips, I formed the full oval into a tempting pout.  Next I
scrubbed her form from head to toe before spraying her with a painting primer
that serves as a sealant and top coat.

  I use spray paint as a foundation.  It’s cheap, and it comes in a lovely variety
of shades that I can match to any of the dolls’ skin tones.  After, I painstakingly
airbrush on all the subtle lowlights and glowing highlights their natural skin
tone had.

  While the paint dried, I started on her hair.  I always like all my dolls hair to
have loose curls that frame and accent the face.  I want to show off the natural
beauty of my dolls, not hide it.  I think that’s what makes them all lifelike.  The
rest of the embalming process is completed while I finish the hair.

  I artfully make up her face.  Dramatic eyes, like a movie star. I injected super
glue into the eyeballs themselves, at the corners.  It keeps the eyes from
decomposing, and gives their eyes that glow that seems to gaze at me with
longing.  Lastly, I put on a single coat of crimson lipstick.  The effect is quite

  After her body dried, I fitted Helena into a rich ivory gown of Italian silk
reminiscent of a ball gown of the 1930’s.  It was such an expensive purchase,
but I wanted something special for my first doll.   It hugged her curves.  While
the jewelry I use was just flee market costume jewelry, the glass beads are the
finishing touch to my work.  I placed a silver and faux pearl drop necklace on
Helena, and kissed her cheek gently, I knew that I was done.

  I moved her back to my house, carefully propping her upright in her climate-
controlled box in the basement.  The rich sheer blue silk draped over her
backdrop really compliments her beautiful hair and eyes.

  Sure, all of my dolls are blondes, and are tall, and certainly curvy.  But those
are the type that I like to play with.  They are all similar, and though I like all of
my dolls.  I admit that Helena was my favorite, perhaps, because she was the
first.  Or maybe it’s the deep blue of her eyes that reminds me of my own face
before the accident.  She was my favorite, until I met you.

  So you see, you shouldn’t be afraid of me.  You are being given a unique
and wonderful opportunity to be immortalized forever.  I’m very particular, and
I only select the best dolls for my collection.  You will be the gem of my
collection, and I have something special in mind for you.
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