Wednesday, 18 September 2013

My Sister's Mannequin

Throughout the majority of my life, my sister has been the pride of the family. Daddy’s little princess, Mommy’s little star, Nanny’s little angel. She was a dancer, a good dancer, I’ll give her that much… But it was precisely the dancing that led to the events that I am about to recollect.

My parents were busy individuals, meaning me and my sister spent a lot of time at our grandmother’s house. This unfortunate arrangement seemed to benefit everyone- everyone but me- my grandmother was the one who made all of my sister’s costumes, therefore all our time there was spent dedicated to her. Measuring, sewing, crafting, decorating and miniature performances, courtesy of my sister, were how we spent our time there; sometimes I was dragged into the activities, and sometimes I was pushed to the side-lines. I didn’t particularly enjoy it either way. I wouldn’t say I was jealous as such, maybe a little, but mainly I was just overcome with boredom due to my exclusion.

Anyway, when my grandmother designed these costumes for my sister she would pin them on her mannequin. For years she used the same one, it was a dismembered torso, consisting of a hard plastic skeleton and blue velvet flesh. It was covered in odd black tags which could be loosened or tightened to adjust the dimension of the thing, I always though they looked like rotten scabs or skin tags. To top it off, there were several hundred pins that had been jabbed into the body, as if it were some giant voodoo doll. I hated that thing, it freaked me out beyond comprehension, but then again, I was only young. Maybe it was because it was lacking limbs and a head, maybe it was because it had furry, blue skin, or maybe it was simply because it stood in solemn, perpetual silence.

I should say, my sister was quite a few years older than me, and she was in her mid-teens by the time I was seven years old. That was one of the reasons my grandmother abandoned her old mannequin; my sister had grown beyond the dimensions the mannequin could reach. Not only that, the wretched thing has become so battered and torn that she had little choice to get rid of it, or rather, replace it. The new model could not have been more different to its predecessor: it became the object of my obsession.

The first difference- this mannequin was full bodied and its flesh was the colour of- well- flesh. It had been specifically crafted to be the exact proportions of my sister, but that was where the similarity between the two ended. Her face was brighter, kinder, she always had a smile fixed upon her face, her hair was golden, and her eyes were a luminous, glorious green. She was less of a mannequin, and more like an oversized Barbie doll.

The second difference- this mannequin did not stand in solemn, perpetual silence.

At first she was just another figure, albeit an extremely well-crafted one, but it wasn’t long before that changed. She was extremely lifelike; she had all the features required of a human, she only lacked that spark of life which would make her a living soul, like myself. Her eyes were beautiful, but ultimately, they were dead- but that didn’t stop them from following me across the room.
That was how it started.

At first I didn’t notice, but over time it became more and more apparent. It filled me with hope, but I never approached her, for fear that she would retreat if I did.

One night I was lying awake, stuck at my grandmother’s house once again, bored out of my skull. The darkness seemed heavier than usual, I assumed it was because I was tired, but not tired enough to sleep. I heard something shuffling through the untrimmed grass in the back garden. I pulled myself out of bed and peered cautiously out of the window.

And there she was.

Stood at the end of the garden, her plastic flesh gleaming in the moonlight: my sister’s mannequin.

Her lifeless eyes gazed at me, looking into my own eyes and into my soul. Although they were unmoving, and blank, I swore I could see a glimmer of happiness inside her retinas. She waved at me, stiffly, and smiled. I was in shock, she seemed so please to see me- why? It was only me. I waved back enthusiastically, smiling just as wide. I don’t know how long I spent gazing out of the window at her, but when I turned away- just for a second- she was gone.

Things were uneventful for some time following that night. Several months passed, with nothing out of the ordinary occurring. Although there was one thing I found peculiar, my grandmother took more interest in me, nothing extreme of course, my sister was still her pride and joy- the apple of her eye- but I wasn’t as excluded as I once was, on some occasions she even went out of her way to ask me question about school and my friends. My sister remained as ignorant as ever.

During that period, the mannequin remained still. For some reason, after that night, she became extremely shy. I would sometimes go up to her during the day and ask her why she didn’t move, why she wouldn’t talk to me, but I never received an answer. Eventually however, she did move again, and like the time before; it was at night that she came to life. Apparently she wasn’t shy when it became dark; I thought maybe she was self-conscious.

I don’t remember much from that first night, It is hazy now, I just remember seeing her standing still outside my door, peering in, studying me. Her hand, with her fingers all stuck together, opening the door just a fraction more. I invited her to come in, but she shied away at the sound of my voice. I was so bored, and so lonely at my grandmother’s house, I just wanted a friend to play with, just someone to relieve the monotony of each day spent there, and she was unwilling to come and play with me. Eventually, however, I coerced her into the room.

I guess the reason I loved her so much, was because whenever I was in that house I felt unloved, and uncared for. When she was around, it was all about me, which is selfish I know, but for a brief amount of time, it was what I needed, because I wasn’t getting that kind of attention anywhere else.

After that first night I would look forward to visiting my grandmother’s every week. Me and the mannequin would play almost every night, once everyone had gone to sleep. We played lots of games, but out favourite was always hide and seek. Sometime she would be lying under my bed with her motionless hand sticking out, or she would be hiding in my wardrobe with the door open just a crack so her inanimate eyes could peek to see if I was coming. It was more fun than usual because we had to be extra quiet, so we didn’t wake anyone. This went on for some time, until one night we made a little too much noise.

We woke my sister.

She emerged from her bedroom, and her mannequin ran away and hid. She asked me what the hell I thought I was doing, and I told her everything. Needless to say she didn’t believe me, she told me I was being stupid and that I should go back to sleep. I insisted that I was telling the truth, but she refused to believe me, eventually however, after some persistence, she agreed to let me show her.
We ventured down the stairs and into the front room where the mannequin stood, still and lifeless. However, no amount of convincing or coercion could wake her from her slumber, and eventually my  sister returned to her room, and I returned to mine, confused and disappointed.

I knew she was shy, but I didn’t understand why she did not want to play with my sister as well as me.

I was determined to prove it to her, not matter what. The next time we stayed at my grandmother’s house, I told my sister to hide in the wardrobe, so she would be able to see that I was telling the truth when her mannequin decided to visit me that night. She reluctantly agreed, stating that she was only doing it to ‘prove me wrong’ so that I could give up my ‘stupid story’.

Night came, and I settled into bed as usual. Time passed slowly, and I soon became fearful that she wouldn’t show. I came close to admitting defeat, maybe I had in fact, imagined it all, but just as I was about to tell my sister she was right and that she could leave, I heard a familiar creak sound from the stairs. I was overcome with excitement as she appeared at the door. However, she wasn’t smiling like usual, something was wrong.

She entered without hesitation and sat on my bedside. She was silent, and wouldn’t look me in the eye.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Your sister- she can’t know about me- about us.” Her voice sounded tired, and hoarse.


“She wouldn’t understand.” That was all she said to me.

I remember beginning to cry and the mannequin holding me in her cold, solid and unmoving arms. The rest has faded from my memory.

When my sister emerged from the wardrobe, once her mannequin was gone, she didn’t speak a word, instead she simply left the room in silence, her eyes wide, and went to bed.

The next day our parents picked us up. When we arrived home, my sister asked to speak to them in private- without me. She’s excluding me again! I thought to myself. I don’t know for certain what she told them, but I can imagine it was about what had happened the night previously, because when they came back there was a lot of crying and hugging- from my mother at least- from my father; there was only anger.

I didn’t see my grandmother again after that day. We never stayed the night, or even visited, I didn’t really understand why. My main reason for returning of course was for the mannequin, but my parents would never let me go back. According to my mother, my grandmother had done something extremely ‘bad’ and according to my father she was a ‘monster’

I don’t remember a monster, I only remember the mannequin.

It became clearer to me in time what had truly happened in that house. I cannot remember the reality, but honestly I don’t think I want to, I much prefer to recall the mannequin.

Although it is no longer a source of obsession, not anymore, now she simply haunts my dreams, my nightmares, and I cannot remove those apathetic eyes from my mind.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Update (September)

...And so September comes :)

I suppose I should stop to say 'thank you' to all of the people who have taken time to view this blog over the past few months, I will constantly endeavour to improve the blog, making it easier on the eye and more accessible. 

I didn't get round to posting two new chapters of the 'Timothy Dallow Chronicles' unfortunately, however I shall do my best to remedy that by posting two new updates this month, as well as the next chapter of 'Glyph.' and a couple of new ideas I have floating around. 

As you may have already noticed, the completed 'Words Over Coffee' is now in one place, in a tab at the top of the page so you can read it easily in its entirety... I shall do the same with any other series I complete in the future, so look out for them there. 

Last month I was told about a subreddit: /r/writingprompts/ which is where the latest story has emerged from. If there is anyone struggling to find their feet with writing, I would highly recommend visiting the page and writing some stories, it's a fantastic source of inspiration, and I imagine there will certainly be a few more stories on this blog that have originated from a prompt over there.

I think that is about it for this update... thank you all again for reading, and I shall see you wherever this path takes us :)

The Last Emails of a Bigamist.

Dear Maddison,
If you are reading this, then I am dead.
This is an email- a short passage- to show my appreciation and admiration for all you are and all you have been to me.
I know I’m not, and never was, the most attentive husband, I know I wasn’t always there for you, but I can tell you now, without a doubt in my mind, that I always cared deeply for you, more so than anyone else. You were my world and have been since the moment we met.
I think now of all the little things that you do that make me love you- simple things- the way you smile when I return home from work, the way your eyes glimmer whenever we see a production, the way you tie up your hair as you cook. The most trivial things are the ones that stay with me, maybe it is because I like to think if I remember the trivial, the rest will come easily to me, that way I can picture you exactly as you are. I want you to know that I love all of those little things about you, I always have, and I always will.
Do you remember our holiday to Greece, back in 92?
If I were to choose one memory to take with me on the journey to the other side, it would be that one.
The hotel was terrible, the food not much better, but it didn’t matter, because we had each other, and we sat on the beach watching the sun set and talking about things that didn’t even matter, until it was cold and dark and I had to hold you close to warm you with my embrace.
If there is a heaven… that would be it.
There is a chance- no- more than a chance-
A Likelihood that your perception of me in the coming weeks will be flawed. I plead with you not to think badly of me if such events occur, I know I could have done more, I know I should have been there for you when you needed me most, there is nothing I can say that will justify my many faults, I just hope that my persistent, passionate, undying love for you redeems them to some degree.
I will miss you when I am gone, my love.
I shall miss your compassion, your kindness and gentle nature. You are the most caring individual I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, let alone loving, and it has been my delight to share my life with you. Goodbye, Maddison
My love remains with you,
Forever and always. X

Dear Andrew.
If you are reading this, I am dead.
This is an email- a short passage- to say some of the things I never said to you whilst I was living.
I love you.
That was something I said… but never said enough. One of my biggest regrets is not treating every day with you as precious, and not telling you how much you meant to me on each of those days. If I could relive our time together, I would be sure to say ‘I love you’ every morning as the sun rose, and every evening as it set.
Another thing I wish I could take back are the fights we always had, the majority of them caused by me.
It is a terrible thing to admit, and it makes me hate myself even to type... but I was ashamed.
You could see that whilst I loved you with all my heart, I was never comfortable, I was never settled. It’s funny… but lying here now, I know that should I be granted the privilege of life I would never spend another day living in shame. I would walk through the streets, hand in hand, even shouting our love from the rooftops. You may not believe me, that’s understandable, I wouldn’t believe me either.
The day we got married was the happiest day of my life, and despite what has been previously said, that day I felt no shame. It was disbelief I felt more than anything; disbelief that someone such as yourself would ever consent to marrying someone such as me.
You have an attitude with which you approach life that I could only ever dream of. You are the living definition of Carpe Diem. Every day is a blessing to you, and you treat it as such, doing anything and everything you can to entertain yourself and others. You introduced me to a whole new world of thrills, and I am forever thankful, you are solely to blame for bringing me out of my shell. You are by every definition, the better half of me, the side that thrives in this world, instead of hiding from it.
Our first meeting in Athens, back in 92, was surely divine intervention. You may hear things of me in the weeks following my death- rumours. I implore you not to listen, and simply to think of the time we shared and what it meant to us both. It is for both our sakes, so I can rest in peace, and you can continue to live knowing without a doubt that you were my one true love.
I’m sorry if I ever hurt you- no- I know I did, and I am sorry.
You deserved a love greater than I could give.
Goodbye, Andrew
My love. X

Dear Samantha
If you are reading this, then I am dead.
This is an email- a short passage- to tell you what is on my mind as the end draws near.
You were always the one who listened, and I the one who talked, constantly, endlessly, and you never said a word. You never complained, you never seemed dissatisfied, and I was selfish.
If I could go back now, I would shut my mouth, and allow you to open up for a change. I would listen attentively to your every word and console or support you, whichever was required at the time. Of course, it is too little much too late now, but I wanted you to know that I do think of you, even if I never seemed to show it.
The reason I made you listen is because I loved you, and I love you because you listened. Without you, I would surely have been driven mad many, many years ago. You always brought me back down to earth, you are the anchor that grounds me, and I am forever grateful to you for that.
You were the perfect wife, and I the neglectful husband.
You cared for me when I was ill, you listened to me when I was in need of someone to confide in, you were always my shoulder to cry on, and I am eternally grateful for that.
You were always ambitious however, and I wasn’t always supportive of your prospects. I want to apologise for that now, because as death looms ever closer I realise all I want is happiness for my loved ones, and you deserve the utmost happiness.
When I am gone, I want you to pursue your dreams, the way you never could whilst I was still your husband.
You have been my rock for far too long, I was selfish to always lean on you, and you should now have the opportunity to have the life you always dreamed of.
You will recall the time I was called away to Greece back in 92? Every waking moment of my time spent in that gorgeous country was spent thinking of you, my mind constantly returning to my love waiting back at home.
I fear I am going to be leaving this world very soon.
The end scares me Samantha.
I fear the dark void of death- I fear going into that darkness alone, without a soul to hold on to. I’ve never been a particularly brave man- you know that- so you can imagine better than any other what effect this is having upon me.
Although I always confided in you, you must know that there are some things I kept even from you, Samantha. You may begin to hear rumours once I am gone. You were never one to listen to such things, so I trust you will not indulge them, but if you should, please- I beg you not to think too harshly of me. I am a flawed man, I’ve never pretended to be anything more, but I fear what might be said could be past redemption.
Be well, my love.
I love you,
Always. X

Dear Mother
If you are reading this, I am dead.
And I am sorry… no parent should live to watch their child perish. I have a confession to make, one that pains me, and one that will no doubt pain you also.
I am a coward, I am a fool, and I am a terrible, terrible human being.
I am a liar, a cheat, a fraud and a charlatan.
I am a bigamist.
I married two women and a man, and have remained married to all of them for just over twenty years.
I don’t know if you can ever forgive me for my mistakes, you always had such high hopes for me, you always thought I had such great potential, but it turns out that this is it.
I am certain that, following my death, the truth will come to light, and when it does- all of the people I loved in life will hate me. They will curse the name of their dead husband, their fiancé, their one true love- because they were not mine.
I need to say this however- I love them all.
I never lied about that.
My love could not be satisfied by one person alone, I love all of them more than life itself, and I will continue to love them even in death. It pains me that they cannot be with me, by my deathbed, all of them, because I need them here now more than ever.
I want to tell them that I am sorry.
I want to tell them that I wish things could be different.
But I cannot choose who I love, and I would not want to, for they have made me the happiest man alive during my time on this earth. I shall weep for them, and they shall weep for me, until they discover one another, then the weeping shall stop.
I took a holiday to Greece in the year of 1992 with Maddison in attempt to clear my head. In the end, I left one love behind, I took another with me, and I found one whilst I was there. It was that year that I accepted who I was, I accepted it, but I never liked it… I always loathed myself.
Mother, my love is extended to you who cared for me all these years, who guided me in life and saw that I knew the difference between right and wrong. I fear that in light of this new information you may feel you have failed where I am concerned, but do not think that way, you were the best mother I could ask for, you are the one person alone I can trust absolutely, and the one person I know will love me unconditionally throughout this whole sordid affair.
I’m sorry for all of the trouble I have caused, and all the trouble I am yet to cause, you deserved so much more.
Thank you for everything mother.
I love you.
And please, if the worst happens, and my spouses discover one another, would you do me the favour of telling each of them that I truly did love them, and that I am so very, very sorry.
I’m so afraid, I have never felt so utterly alone.
The thought that you will be here soon... with me, when I am close to passing, is a comforting one. Thank you for always being there.
Love Always-
  • Your Jack x