Krisalyn Satriya | Art by Alice Lu
There was a phase of my life when I dearly loved a doll. She was a close confidant and everything I aspired to be. I loved her dark sultry hair, always so impeccably neat. I loved her gold rimmed pupils that seemed to glow in the sunlight. I loved her features, delicate and thin, and most of all I loved how she could become anyone I wanted her to be.
I first obtained her from a birthday present. She was intriguingly expressionless, eyes blank and lifeless. There was nothing special about her, but she was a new plaything, and that was enough for me.
Then I pried open the box and lifted her out, and I knew we had a connection. I knew she loved me as much as I did her. At that moment, our souls were tied together.
Since then, she never left my side. She ate with me, and I shared my drinks with her. She waited for me outside while I bathed, loyal and immovable. Even in our sleep she stayed close to my chest, as if burrowing a safe place under my skin. Our heartbeats would slow and speed up in sync, and our breaths matched each other’s. In those times I could feel her heat pressing against me, reassuring and secure.
I remember my key moment of realization. I was sitting at the foot of our old worn down couch, dancing with her. Her slender arms lifted in the air and she smiled, gilded eyes vibrant and excited. I held her hands, twirling around. When I stopped for a breath, I took a glance at her face. The light was dimming in her expression, and her mouth crinkled, confused, as she seemed to struggle to speak. I suddenly became aware of her suffering, to only think but not speak. I wondered about the abysmal void that weighed upon her tongue. I wondered how she could lay still in silence, like an unheard scream that died hopelessly.
It came to me then that I did not know who she was, or what she wanted. I wondered if she glared at me terribly, following me with those diminutive golden beads. I wondered if she was a slave to me, aware of her body but unable to control it.
And at once I became afraid — horribly afraid of the one that I cherished the most. I felt that I sinned, that I tainted her with my foolish and unscrupulous desires. I was afraid of her retribution, that she might suddenly break free from her infinite condemnation of silence, or shatter the thin membrane that separated my reality from hers. It was as I was thinking this that it happened, my final realization — and all of a sudden a silent scream rang in my ears, and I looked up at my face. It was scrunched with the concentration of trying to understand. A tide of horror began to rise in my chest, and I held out my arms. Plastic.
I suppose I should have been more surprised, but I wasn’t. She was me, and I was her. I had always been her. Our realities were intertwined. I was shackled. We stared at each other, both realizing. I was the doll, and I was the human. I was myself upon myself, and it was strange that I had only just noticed.
My father yelled that dinner was ready, and she set me on the ground and stood. I sat, immobile and helpless, lips frozen into a small smile, stiff and fluid all at once. I fixed my gold rimmed gaze on her back, retreating as she walked into the kitchen, wondering if she would pick me up and play with me again.