Doll's End

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The doll came to just before sunrise, as was her habit on Sundays. Her Witch would not be up for several more hours. Plenty of time yet to sit and bask in her Stillness and the light of the morning sun. It was important to savor every last moment before it was over.

Letting herself out from her display, the porcelain doll went to sit in her favorite spot by the sill, where the light pooled in a warm, inviting glow. She moved with the precision only clockwork could afford, sure to avoid every creaky floorboard or the clacking of her heels.

It would be unseemly for the doll to wake her Witch this early on a weekend. Thus, when her Witch stirred in bed unexpectedly, the doll's gears locked up tight. She didn't budge an inch until her Witch resettled, despite the pose no human could maintain that she found herself in.

When at last she'd reached her destination, she took her seat in a practiced, perfect, perfunctory manner. Her dress billowed around her as she did, a small tug bringing all the pleats of the skirt in line before she clasped her hands in front of her and just... sat.

Hours went by in silent stillness, the doll not making a single sound, motion, or thought. Like a picture frozen in time, she languored in the warmth of the rising sun. It was quiet and peaceful.

Eventually, one feeling did break the doll's internal silence. She would miss this.

Taking that irksome disturbance as her queue, the doll went to prepare her Witch's breakfast.

The Witch woke to the feeling of a gentle shake and the smell of apples and cinnamon. Opening her eyes, she smiled at the sight of her doll standing over her.

"Your breakfast, Madame," said the doll, indicating a tray sitting atop the nightstand. It was an inordinate display of variety; jams and honeys and syrups aplenty with which to enjoy her toasts and tea. Reaching for the aromatic cup and taking a sip, the Witch felt herself waken

"I've told you before, there's no need to go to these lengths. I usually skip breakfast," she said, hiding a blushing smile behind her teacup.

"Yes, Madame. This doll will make note of that for next time."

She would not.

"You know buttering me up like this won't do you any good," the Witch said, doing the same to her toast as she spoke.

"Surely a few more hours couldn't hurt, Madame...? This doll could just—"

"No. You know time's up. Soon as I'm done breakfast, it's down to the lab."

"Yes, Madame..." the doll replied, dejectedly.

True to her word, as soon as the tray had been cleared and cleaned, the Witch took her doll by the hand and dragged her down and down and down the winding stairs to the laboratory.

It was... a mess. Tomes and tools littered the floor and workbench where the Witch had left them after they'd filled their purpose. The doll had offered to clean it countless times this past weekend, much to her Witch's chagrin, but now it was too late for that.

In the center of the laboratory stood a table like straight out of a torture chamber, hard wood with metal, rune-etched restraints. Once tied down, not even the doll's clockwork strength could release her from its grasp. Despite this, she laid herself upon it voluntarily.

With a click, click, click, click, it was done. There would be no escape from this for the doll. It had been good while it lasted.

Standing at the head of the table was her Witch, looking down on the doll in a sadistic mirror of the scene from this morning's breakfast.

"Any last words, dear doll?" the Witch asked.

"C-can't we talk about this? A few more hou—"

"We've talked about this. I know you want longer, but we can't. Now, goodbye doll."

With that, the Witch leaned down, kissed her doll's forehead, and commenced the ritual.

Several hours later, the doll awoke in bed to the feeling of a gentle shake and the scent of burnt apples and cinnamon. Opening her eyes, she smiled at the sight of her Witch standing over her.

"Your evening tea, sleepyhead," said the Witch.

Reaching for the aromatic cup and taking a sip, the doll felt herself shiver in revulsion. "I don't know how you manage to screw up a cup of tea," she said.

"W-well try doing it as a human some time! Not all of us have Purpose to guide our every move, you know!"

Hiding a blushing smile behind her teacup, the doll took another sip.

When at last the cup had been drained, the Witch sat beside her doll in bed. The doll could see the concern in her Witch's eyes as she began her examination, looking over every last inch of her body and being.

"Everything working ok? Nothing hinky? Joints all moving the right way?"

"Yes, yes. You worry about this every time. I'm fine. The ritual went smoothly, like always. See?" The doll proffered her flesh and blood hand, wiggling all of her fingers to show that they worked.

"I still need to check..." the Witch said sheepishly.

"I'm fine. You can stop worrying. Well, other than the whole 'I wish I didn't have to go back to being a person' thing... And the 'I wish I didn't have to go home' thing. And the 'I wish I could just be your doll' thing. It's nice to get a break. Everything becomes so simple. It's so quiet. For just a few days, I don't have to carry it all by myself. I just wish it didn't have to end..."

The Witch turned to her doll, planting a kiss on her forehead once more. "I know, doll. I know. One day soon, you'll be mine, truly and forevermore. One day."

"One day," the doll agreed.

End 🧵