Eileen Mavis and her friends were lounging around in her room while the snow outside lazily swayed its way down from the dove-grey skies that late afternoon. Hot chocolate was still steaming in four separate mugs whilst a movie played in the background from a television attached to the bedroom wall. Christmas gifts were still piled in the corner of the room, waiting patiently to be put away even though it was almost two weeks since Christmas had passed. They lay opposite the doll house that was an exact replica of Eileen’s real home, a gift from her seventh Christmas.
“I still can’t believe you have that old thing.” Eileen’s one friend, Jess, snorted halfway through the discussion of what they each received for Christmas. “You’ve had so many new, and better, things to use and spend your time with. Yet you still have dolls?”
Eileen shuffled awkwardly in her seat, shrugging as nonchalantly as possible. “It’s not as if I still use them. It’s hard to get rid of it, I’ve got loads of memories with it.” The topic always made the fifteen-year-old uncomfortable.
While Eileen didn’t want to become some sort of social pariah, she also didn’t want to make a reckless decision regarding the dollhouse and lose years of memories despite them being all stored in her head. It was a familiarity thing, she supposed.
“You’re fifteen, Eileen.” Amber wisely responded after a sip of the sweet hot chocolate, “We all threw ours out years ago. It’s not that hard once you’ve done it. Besides, it’s not as if you’re going to lose all the memories you’ve created with it.”
“I don’t know…I just don’t know how my parents would take it if I wanted to get rid of it…” Eileen answered lamely, looking down at the mug in hand. However, she knew her parents wouldn’t mind, since they too were starting to see it as more of an antique for Eileen than a toy lately.
The pixie-cropped hair, hazel-eyed girl with a heart-shaped face, who still had yet to establish herself in this friendship group, always had to deal with this sort of conversation each time the three other girls came over.
Jess huffed, rolling her eyes, “I’m sure they won’t even care. They’d probably be happy that you wanted to get rid of such a babyish toy.”
Eileen struggled for a moment to find a response suitable enough for the conversation, unsure just as to how to deal with what was going on. In the end, she conceded and sighed, shaking her head, “Look guys, can we just…leave it? Please? Let’s just enjoy the film.”
Later that evening, Eileen made a decision to throw out the dollhouse and two of the dolls. The possibility of being a laughing stock among her friends too much to bear.
Powering down all three dolls was the easy part, it was the dismantling of the dollhouse that took up the majority of the Mavis’ family’s day once morning had arrived. It was a very large structure, for a dollhouse. But it had to be considering it homed three fourteen-inch dolls. The dolls could be considered similar to those of Bisque Dolls that used to exist. With skin like texture and a delicacy to them, they may look close to breaking if mishandled. However, these dolls were not made with the fragile, Bisque material, but rather different components of malleable metals to give them the resilience needed when involved in the life of a child.
It took Eileen a moment or two to compose herself once everything was disposed of, before she started chastising herself for being so silly. They were dolls, after all, and even if they could hold a conversation and walk by themselves, it didn’t mean they were capable of human emotion. However, despite her trying to remain calm about the whole ordeal, Eileen couldn’t help but worry about her own doll replica, Eileen 2.0. It learned many things alongside her, as it was programmed to do, and she was mildly concerned about what it would make of the new situation.
Eileen 2.0 was very confused when she was turned back on, having rarely been powered down in the past. Perhaps for a few family weekends away when the Real Eileen was younger, or when the family went away on abroad holidays and she was left behind. But never as unexpectedly as she had been that day.
The Real Eileen bit at her lower lip, watching her doll carefully. “Two-point-oh?”
Eileen 2.0 slowly looked up with a furrowed brow, head tilting ever so lightly to the side, “Eileen. Why did you turn me off?”
“I was having a clean out…I didn’t want to disturb you.”
2.0 straightened out, her actions methodical yet prolonged. “Having a clean out? To make way for your new Christmas presents? You had a lot this year.”
Eileen smiled weakly, “I guess you can say that. I know I did…I was a lucky girl again this year-”
“Wait.” 2.0 interrupted, eyes moving past Eileen to focus on the space where the dollhouse used to stand. “Where is the house?”
2.0 pushed herself up to her feet to toddle over to the empty area. Eileen watched her do so.
“The house. My house. Where has it gone?”
Eileen wrung her hands together, trying to formulate a sentence in her mind. “I threw it out.”
2.0 turned back to face Eileen, expression blank and brow no longer furrowed, “Because of what those mean girls said yesterday?”
“They aren’t mean, two-point-oh. They’re my friends-”
“Friends that tease and make fun of you for still having dolls?”
Eileen paused, caught by surprise at her doll’s sharp tone. “They don’t-”
“And…and the other two dolls? The other two that were my…my parents?” 2.0 then asked, looking back to the space, “You…threw them out too?”
Eileen swallowed thickly, tongue feeling thick in her mouth and she forced herself to shrug blasély. “Yes. Yes I did. It was all babyish and I needed to move on with life. Childhood is just a phase. Dolls and dollhouses are just a part of that phase.”
“You killed them.”
The accusation made Eileen take a physical step back, eyes widening and lips parting. This was getting out of hand.
“Two-point-oh, I haven’t killed anyone or anything here. They’ve been powered down, thrown into the rubbish-”
“And the rubbish takes them to the tip. They burn and shred and destroy anything that goes in there. They’ll…they’ll lose all their essence. They’ll die in there! I loved them and you’ve killed them.” 2.0 fell onto her bottom, landing with a soft thwump. Eileen feared that she even detected a soft sniffle from her doll replica.
Moving around her doll, Eileen crouched down before sitting in front of her doll and marvelled at the peculiar situation she found herself in.
“Two-point-oh…you’re incapable of love or any human emotion. You don’t feel…you’re a doll.” Eileen said gently, trying to comfort 2.0 but it seemed to only rile her up further.
“I have learned as you have learned! Those dolls replicated your parents! You learned to love your parents so I have loved those parent replicas.” 2.0 responded despairingly.
Eileen reached out to place a fingertip over 2.0’s hand, “Two-point-oh…-”
However, the hand was snatched from under her as soon as Eileen’s finger got near. “No,” 2.0 stood and backed away, “We are no longer friends.” The doll gave a final look to Eileen before retreating to the back of the bedroom to clamber up onto the armchair in the corner, burying her face into the cuddly bear that occupied the seat.
The next morning, Eileen didn’t think much of 2.0 not being visible in the room. She assumed the doll was still sulking with her, and expected that it would last for a day or two longer before she could find something to distract 2.0 with.
Snow still fell outside, covering everything in a blanket of pure white. Clouds were thin and, every few minutes, the sun would disappear behind the opaque sheets. Streaks of light turned into large pools before melting back into the occasional spotlight once more, like a stage theatres control board gone haywire. But the snow still glistened underneath, looking like it was harbouring diamonds beneath the surface.
Eileen was keen to get out with her parents, make snowmen and have snowball fights before a restful night with more hot chocolate and movies. She was already dressed in snow gear as she approached their room, smiling at the prospect of another day without school.
The smile was no longer upon entering her parents’ bedroom.
“I’ve always learned from you, Eileen, but I thought it was time that you learned from me. So welcome to today’s lesson.” 2.0 informed her.
Eileen 2.0 was sat on the pillows of her parents’ bed and between their heads. Her parents’ seemed like they could be sleeping still, if it weren’t for their slashed and bloodied throats. Liquid red stained their porcelain skin, and it looked like it was drying in her mother’s still perfectly braided hair. One of her father’s eyes were half open whilst the other was completely closed, like the broken eyelid of an old doll. Her mother’s eyes were open, staring to the ceiling blankly like Eileen’s puppets would do when she powered them down. A metallic scent hung in the air, like a thick perfume.
The real Eileen screamed.