This is the concluding part of a two-part story, read the first part here.
The next morning you wake me with a chime, as a golden light spills through the open window like a luminously syrupy waterfall.
You bring me into the bathroom and sit me on the toilet. Then we shower, or at least I stand obediently as you lather me in warm foamy perfumed suds. A quick once-over with the razor to ensure everywhere is presentably smooth and flawless. After all, I’m going to be on display to the public today.
You dry me off, and clean my teeth, then lead me back to bedroom to dress me. You’ve chosen an adorable little outfit, a vintage Edwardian girl’s dress, powder blue, woven from the finest wool. You put my underwear on first, lifting my arms for my silk camisole, then stepping me into its matching half-slip, which you pull up to my waist. You repeat the same manoeuvre with my snow white lace-fringed petticoat. In the mirror, my ghostly reflection resembles something Wilkie Collins might have described.
Fortunately my charming little one-piece dress provides a splash of welcome colour, it’s knee length, with embroidered trimmings embellishing the side and around the skirt. You hoist it up to my chest, before feeding my hands through its armholes. I marvel at myself in the mirror, resplendent in a dress that’s over a hundred years old, wondering if the mother who bought it would ever be able to comprehend how it would eventually be worn.
I feel you moving behind me, buttoning me up at the back. After that, there’s just one final garment, a one-sided frilly pinafore with a high collar that covers my neck and extends down just as far as my nipped-in waist.
You sit me down by the dressing table to complete the look, plaiting my hair into a single braid, then applying a touch of white face powder, and a brush of rouge to my cheeks. When you’ve finished, I see you in the mirror, standing behind me, admiring me. You call me beautiful. And inside, unseen, I feel I might burst with pride.
I sit patiently at the dressing table, watching glimpses of you in the mirror as you put on your own costume. I see you’ve chosen your colonial era white linen suit, another vintage item that you’ve had tailored, so the double-breasted jacket perfectly fits your tall athletic frame. Your decide against the waistcoat, just a simple white shirt with a small butterfly collar, and a thin blood red tie. Then you appear in the mirror behind me, running gel through your hair before slicking it back with a comb.
Your own preparations complete, you place your hand on my shoulder as we pose together. We look magnificent, like travellers from the age of H.G Wells. Perhaps all you ever needed to travel through time was a fully committed imagination.
You walk over to the singing bowl on the bedside table, and strike it with the little mallet. I feel energy surge through my own muscles again. You ask me to stand and join you, I walk over to your outstretched arm smoothly and suavely. I can do anything when the bowl rings, as long as you’ve told me to do it first.
We leave our room, arm in arm, and stride down the chandelier-lit hallway to breakfast, to join the congregation of the dolls…
The second part of this story provided a chance to expand on the original concept, to create a secret society of Dolls and their owners, who’d gather at a remote mountain chateau to indulge their shared interest.
Inventing the programme that the doll owners peruse was a great deal of fun. I resisted the temptation to fully describe each scenario, I thought I’d leave those as prompts, seeds to germinate in the imagination of readers. I hope they flourished into sweet dreams.