Free Story Friday

The Indigo-Haired Doll
by D M Hitchins
 It was the needle passing through the skin of her shoulder that woke her. Or the final bit of fluff being forced down her arm. Agatha wasn’t sure. She didn’t have eyes yet. They were off to the side. Her left, The Maker’s right. Her ears had been sewn on an hour prior, and she heard him drop her eyes into a small dish. The Maker had called them indigo pretties. He’d made an odd song of it too. ‘My pretty little indigo girl, with indigo eyes and indigo curls.’ The doll didn’t know indigo, just that the word also described her hair. He stroked it often and cooed at her between stitches.
She was in pain. Her shoulder burned with each stab and ached with every tug. Each drag drew her ever more whole. She couldn’t feel the arm yet, not until the thread was cut. A doll comes alive in pieces, each one an agonizing affair. This one was a slow ascent, like floating up from a pool. This Maker took frequent breaks and came back smelling like a burnt musk- vastly different from her last Maker, Greer, who rubbed a glorious lavender lotion on before work. He’d been a concert pianist with a passion for dolls and given her the name Agatha. She loved it. It was her favorite of all her names, even better than Charlotte or Jane.
Greer had created her in the image of his beautiful blonde wife and given her to his young daughter Katie. The doll supposed she was of some comfort to the girl when her mother fell ill. Even Greer had picked her up on occasion. He’d kiss her head and hold her close and cry. Her heart would soar when he held her. She wished she could hold him or cry with him but a doll’s arms are not functional in the way of a human’s. A doll’s arms are for posing.
The family had taken precious care of her and she loved them. Katie brushed her hair and told her secrets every day until she turned thirteen. That was when everything became strange. They’d come back from the hospital, both looking tired and grey. After that day, Katie stopped telling her secrets and taking her to bed. Father and daughter started fighting over the smallest of things, and Agatha was often left forgotten behind the cushions of the couch or under the bed. Greer once suggested Tabitha throw Agatha out, or give her away. When he finally did pick her up, he screamed and threw her across the room. Agatha didn’t understand. She just wanted him to hold her.
The Maker yanked the thread of her arm and she was pulled away from Katie and away from Greer. He snipped the final thread and as he wove it in she began to feel her fingers. They were stiff, a little over stuffed compared to her last arms, but they would do. Her heart leapt as her eyes rattled around the cup. She would soon have sight. And a beautiful dress and a name. How she longed for a new name.
A searing sensation overcame her face and if her lips could move she was sure she’d be screaming. Glue is always the worst of it. One eye. She stared straight up at The Maker. He was scruffy and large, with a face full of salt and pepper stubble. His brown suspenders concealed some of the sweat marks on his white t-shirt. He stared back, one eye engorged through a large glass disc and pressed the glue gun to her face once more. Two eyes. Now for the lips. The Maker painted them on with a thin sable brush. Agatha wanted to laugh as he dragged it across her face. When he’d finished her lips he set her down and went for a break.
Now on her side, she could see around the room. Piles of books and tools littered every shelf, each covered with a brownish dust. Doll parts were strewn among them. A thousand eyes stared at her from inside a set of drawers. Three finished dolls set atop the drawer set, each in a satin green dress with white lace trim. Agatha thought they must have been sisters, for their hair was all a silky blue-black, and each had the deepest of brown eyes. Agatha could feel their pity and tried to send a thought of gratitude their way. They must have felt her thoughts on Greer and wanted to console her. They were good dolls.
Good dolls have three traits. They must be gentle, smart and have empathy. There are good dolls and bad dolls. There are also some dolls who fall in-between, and that’s ok. Those are called grey dolls, and they usually don’t sell, but they’re kind and gentle all the same. It’s the bad dolls that people (and other dolls) must watch out for. A bad doll is born, as all dolls are, from their Maker. It all must do with the energy the Maker has when he creates. A Maker full of bitterness and cruelty would create a bad doll, and instead of being full of empathy, they are jealous and cruel. Agatha assumed they were jealous of the person they were gifted to, or the idea of living a human’s life, because there are stories of bad dolls who trick their human into trading places, forever. Agatha thought that was a horrible idea, though living the life of a human sounded wonderful. She quickly reeled that thought in. The other dolls were starting to feel nervous.
When the Maker came back, he had a small box under his arm. He picked Agatha up and set her arms over a metal stand while he untied the ribbon. When she saw what it was, she swooned. A beautiful yellow and red dress with white stripes. Her dress. The Maker slipped it on and it fit like a glove, though the skirt was stuffed and heavy. She wondered why it was so round until he started stuffing pins into it. One went too far in and hit her leg. She felt her mind screech. The other dolls felt sorry for her. She wasn’t going to be a little girls friend or the star on a collector’s shelf. She would be a pincushion. A doll without a name. Agatha wanted to sob, but tears didn’t fall from plastic eyes. She hated him. She hated her Maker and she hated Greer and Katie.
When the Maker picked her up, she tried to pull away but was shoved into a plastic bag. Not a case like the rest of the dolls, but a plastic bag like the ones human’s use for garbage. She could see fuzzy shapes blurred by the plastic as she knocked against the makers back. He carried her out the door and threw her into his back seat. The car started and they drove for hours, arriving at a small farm just before dusk.
The Maker got out and pulled her bag with him. Before they even reached the font door, an old woman came out with a big grin on her face. “Is that my new pin cushion?” she said clasping her wrinkled hands.
The Maker grunted then held out his hand. “Fifty.”
Fifty, thought Agatha. That’s it?
The old hag handed the money over and took the bag. Once she closed the door, she lifted Agatha from the bag and held her up. “What a pretty thing.”
Agatha wanted to spit on her.
She walked the doll to a small desk and plopped her among spools of brightly colored thread and thimbles. “There.” She stared sticking all sorts of pins in the bottom of her dress. “Now I’ll never lose them.”
If Agatha could only move her arms, she thought- but wait, perhaps she could. No. Stealing the soul of an ugly old hag, that would never work. She needed someone young. Someone with life.

The old woman sat down at the desk in front of Agatha, picking up a patch of fabric. She pulled pins out of the doll’s skirt and started sticking them in to the patch. “I’ll have to remember to keep my grandkids away from you,” she smiled. “One look at that pretty face and they’ll want to take you home.”