A novel : First installment
It was perfect.
As she held the doll close, cooed, and rocked it, she was unaware of the expression on the craftsman’s face. He was puzzled and stared openly at her with a mixture of fascination and unease. Thomas the doll maker, was handsomely paid to create this life like baby doll. He now had doubts about the woman’s sanity.
“She is so lovely,” whispered the woman. She held it to her cheek, and Thomas looked away but not before he noted slight tears in her eyes. He regarded her, and he felt mildly nauseated, as she checked each finger and toe and murmured to the tiny doll, as if it were real.
Tiny soft brown curls licked its forehead, the skin tone an impeccable balance of pink and beige, with realistic slight blotches and tiny spider veins luminescent blue through the scalp. His work was impeccable. The skin made with doe leather was soft and had a matte finish, essential for realism. The woman had not insisted on eyes, but perfect lids. The lashes were made with the finest thread, each strand measured precisely. The eyebrows a light pale fuzz , formed in a convincing arch. His work would have been envied by the great French Jumeau doll makers, yet unlike the originals Thomas was able to add technology. The chest of the baby rose and fell with an automated pump placed under the soft plastic breast plate.
“Your final installment Madame”, he said, walking briskly to the table.
Bernadette, the woman, opened a black leather handbag and handed him an envelope. “It is all there”, she said, and slipped out the door before Thomas could count it.
He counted the cash quickly, thinking he may have to hail her to bicker or contest, but it was all there in 100-dollar bills. Out the window, through the sheer curtain he watched her pill box hat disappear around a corner. He suddenly realized once she was gone, he had no idea how to contact her. He knew with certainty he would never see her again.
All the transactions had been carried out on her time frame and she initiated each call. She had done the research, found him, propositioned, hired, paid and now left him. It was over.
Thomas felt a sense of loss. He regretted this reaction but could not restrain it.
He had worked for 16 months on this precious uniquely crafted baby doll and now his wee creation was gone, gone to live with a crazy woman. A childless, crazy woman, he suspected.
He lit the burner to boil water for his tea. He shook out the match, the smoke coiled upward, and he pondered the fate of the doll, and if he would ever make another quite as magnificent.
Yanarra retched and heaved in the back yard. Yellow liquid spilled into the dust. The goats darted, and chickens squawked, racing to towards the fence in a panic. Fernando looked on as he tended the large patch of cabbage and tomatoes at the left of the casa.
“¿estás bien, querida” ( Are you ok sweetie?), he asked.
Yanarra shook her head, looked at the ground in shame. It was another mouth to feed. Their fourth, and feeding the three they had, took daily toil and creative bartering.
They were a healthy family, full of hope and promise and love. Yanarra was an optimist, despite becoming aware of the oppressive political climate and discontent with the fear and poverty that hallmarked their life on the island, she remained in love with her country, her family, and especially her spouse.
He smiled, but she could see the tired, resigned and slightly haunted look in his eyes. She perceived his disappointment, and bewilderment, but he did not portray this to her. He rose from his knees, opened his arms and walked towards her. She nestled herself into him, accepting his comfort. Her lithe body fit into his strong bronze chest, and despite her rumbling stomach, she felt the familiar flush. She whispered, “we made another niño mi amor.” As he enfolded her against him, Fernando was choked, his love for her was overwhelming.
They stood embraced in the static Caribbean heat and a profound sense of foreboding dread seeped into his bloodstream and spread from his pounding heart to the tips of his fingers ; he shivered in the heat.
Jennifer Currie Sept. 2021