The Dressing Doll
The Warlock's room was a disaster, every inch of it littered in skirts, petticoats, socks, and other accoutrement as he searched for the right combination of items for his doll. Satin mused to herself that it looked as though a lace elemental had made the room its nest.
After what seemed an eternity, Alistair finally emerged from the mountain of clothes with his prize in hand. "I knew I had it somewhere… This one just matches the blouse too well to not wear it, especially with the cardigan and tights," the Warlock said, holding the skirt aloft
In the one tiny corner of the room not covered in clothing, the doll stood by as her Warlock navigated the mess he had made, the mess she would have to clean up later. When at last he had cleared the obstacle course, he held it out for her to step into.
Slipping her stockinged feet into the skirt, she had to admit, it really did pull the whole outfit together, especially once a petticoat was added. Moving to the hallway mirror to better see his handiwork, she saw reflected the picture of pseudo-Victorian fashion he so enjoyed.
The puff of her skirt and her blouse's sleeves combined with the tapered waist the skirt cut an incredibly elegant figure. The red and white pinstripe of the skirt drew out the matching whites of her blouse and stockings and the reds of her shoes, cardigan, and hat.
It was a gorgeous outfit heavily contrasted by her Warlock's own appearance. Dressed in jeans and a worn out hooded sweatshirt, his scraggly beard and hair that hadn't seen a barber's sheers in a decade created a clear picture of a man who cared nothing for his own appearance.
"As always, this doll must thank you for your assistance, sir. She truly has no eye for these sorts of things," Satin said.
"It's… it's nothing. I find this entertaining, you know that."
"And yet you apply none of these skills to your own fashion, sir. You own more clothes for your doll than you do for even yourself. It begs the question, why…?"
Alistair sighed, exasperated. "We've been over this. A. That isn't 'begging the question' and B… if I'm going to have a doll to assist me around here all day, then she may as well be one I enjoy looking at. After all, that is the Purpose I Made you with, is it not?"
Satin could feel in her core that something about what he'd said wasn't quite right. It was close, but as always, it didn't resonate at quite the right frequency with her being. It gnawed at her. Something indiscernible pushed her to try a different tack this time.
"If this doll could ask a small imposition, would sir humor her today?" she asked.
Alistair was taken aback. Satin never really asked for things. Not since the very day of her Making could he recall such a thing. It seemed the least he could do for her, given circumstances.
"Alright, so be it. As long as it doesn't distract from my day's work too much. What is it you want?" he answered, trepidatiously.
"Please play dress-up with this doll, sir."
"We just got you dressed, doll."
"No, sir. This doll asks that you join her in dressing up."
"Oh…" Alistair paused before thinking aloud. "I don't really own anything that would go with what you're wearing… My wardrobe's more built for comfort than it is looks…"
"There are plenty of clothes here for you, sir," Satin replied, indicating the remains of his search.
"What? Nonononono. Those are yours. Besides, they'd never fit," he protested.
"Sir, this doll has seen her design specifications. Our body proportions are identical. They'll fit just fine."
The Warlock's air of confidence and bravado wavered as he countered, "They-they're women's clothes, in case you haven't noticed."
"You yourself, sir, have told this doll that part of being a Warlock is rejecting the impositions society puts upon you. Why hold on to this one?"
One by one, Satin dismantled Alistair's arguments as adeptly as he could dismantle her, until the only defense he was left with was staring at the floor, stuttering, "Then… then they wouldn't suit me…"
"This doll begs to differ. Come, let this doll figure it out, sir."
Taking her Warlock by the hand, she led him back to the bedroom, to a spot atop the bed which she quickly cleared off. Once seated, Alistair nervously fidgeted, wringing his hands over and over. Muttering to himself, he mused, "A Warlock showing fear before his doll… How sad…"
Satin chose to pretend she hadn't heard him, turning to the task she'd set herself. Looking at the options before her, the doll couldn't even begin to figure out how her Warlock did it every day, turning all the varied options into a complete assemblage that complemented itself.
Still, something drove her forward. She didn't need the best outfit. Perfect coordination wasn't required here. There was some other quality she was looking for, something she could identify as she picked various pieces from the piles.
Some stockings here. A shirt there. This skirt or tha—no, it was definitely that one. Somehow she could tell which ones were right. She could feel them, feel them resonate in a way nothing quite had before.
All the items gathered, she brought them over to her Warlock. He'd apparently taken to covering his face to try and hide his feelings. His fear. His embarrassment. His shame. Still, there was work to do.
One by one, she removed each piece of uncared for clothing from Alistair. He offered no protest, moving as needed to assist, but hiding his expression all the while. Satin was slow, careful, deliberate. It was a delicate process, as she peeled back layer after layer of armor.
Reduced to his drawers, Satin could build him back up. In a mirror of their daily routine, she helped him into each article of clothing she'd picked for him. Slipping his feet into the tights. Buttoning his blouse. Lacing his shoes. Until Alistair no longer stood before her.
Placing her hands atop his shoulders, she walked him out to the full length mirror in the hall. Speaking to him for the first time since he'd wordlessly agreed to her request, Satin said, "It's done. Please, sir, take a look."
Slowly, he lowered his hands. There, in the mirror, he finally saw it.
He swished to the left and so did his reflection. He turned his foot out and so did his reflection. He spun around in his skirt and so did his reflection. He smiled like never before and so did his reflection. Finally, he cracked—and so did his reflection.
Tears streamed from his eyes as he cried out, "Why? Why? Why?! Why isn't this enough?! Why doesn't it work?! I look like a joke. I look ridiculous. I look like… I look… I look hideous… No one would ever… I could never… It doesn't work… It was supposed to work…
"This hair." Crack. "This beard." Crack. "This fucking face!" Crack. With each outburst, the crack in the mirror spidered and spread. "They. Don't. Work! They don't fucking work! They're wrong! It's wrong! It's all fucking wrong! It was supposed to work!" CRACK.
He broke. He bawled. He cried out the bloody, primal scream of a person whose very spirit was being torn in two. It was all Satin could do to hold herself together against the Magicks he cursed into being as she held on to him, crumpling together to the floor.
When at last he'd caught his breath, he continued, "Why do I want this to work? Why do I need this to work? Why am I the problem? Why isn't this enough? Why…? Why…? Why do I finally see me…? Why does that make me feel so sick, but so…?"
Satin could not say where the right words came from, but without hesitation she responded, "It's ok. No matter what you are you. No matter what you made this doll. No matter what this doll is here. We'll… we'll find the answers, si—We'll find the answers. Together."
So they lay upon the floor, the doll consoling her Maker, as the world, the pretense, and the mirror shattered before them.