It was exactly 3 A.M February 2nd when I saw him for the first time. He was walking alone down the cobblestone street; the collar of his jacket had been popped up to protect his face from the cold. The dim lightening of the street lights shone down on his frost kissed face. The wind had been blowing especially hard that night, but he walked as if he was in no hurry.
After that night I had started noticing him everywhere. I saw his lanky figure on the subway when I was on the way to work every morning; I saw the hooded face follow me into the coffee shop every lunch break, and I could feel his eyes on me when I locked up my house every night.
I introduced myself to him at exactly 6:17pm, March 15th. We had just gotten off the subway and I could feel his presence behind me as I began my walk home. When I turned around and spoke to him, his eyes became wide – they became petrified; he looked at me like you look at a ghost. He told me to call him Xal, he said it was short for Xalvador.
When spring finally rolled around, Xalvador invited me over to his house. He said it wasn’t much to look at, but that it would grow on me. I entered his small cottage at exactly 7:01pm April 25th, and I never came out.
Nobody looked for me; nobody ever found me, and I was forced to watch Xalvador add more dolls to his collection. We would all sit around his table while he laughed, danced, and played with us. With each passing day, he took the other dolls away from me. “They going to make the perfect canvas for you, my dear”, he would say as he stretched the rotting leather over his work table. The porcelain skin dripped crimson down the wooden table leg and stained the floor. Carelessly, his old toys lay thrown across the floor, but he never put another doll next to me – he claimed I was his most prized possession.
The glow of the clock that sat on Xalvador’s tea table told me it was 6 P.M. Xal would always come to play with me at this time. I could tell when he was coming because my chair would always tremble until I felt ready for his hands on me.
Xal hummed nameless songs while he ran his hands through my hair. A diamond pendant now hung around my neck and my numbing body was bathed in silk – Xal told me I was his masterpiece. With each bucket of paint, I could feel my skin turning into marble and Xal’s delight was etched across his face. “You’re going to be beautiful forever,” he whispered into my ear as he stroked my cheek; his warm lips touched my earlobes softly, and I could feel him shudder in excitement as my body lay paralyzed before him. But he got greedy. I only had so much paint that I could give him, and suddenly, I wasn’t enough for him anymore.
On May 5th at exactly 3:15 A.M, he arrived home and looked at me for the last time. I knew he had found her. He had found a doll that would be prettier than me. Xalvador told me that he would paint one last picture for me, but he would have to hurry. He said another doll talked to him and he only had a few weeks to prepare my place for her.
It was 4 A.M when his house finally began to grow on me. My skin was a pale contrast to the river of red that was soaking into the earth that surrounded me, but I didn’t say a word; pretty dolls don’t speak, they just listen.
Elaine Chellberg is an aspiring writer and poet from Chicago. Although she is majoring in English at the College of DuPage, she currently works at a doggy day care.