First published 'Dreams & Nightmares' 1991
“Ask for me in my head,” said the doll to her mistress.
The girl tilted it and allowed the liquid to drip from the slowly blinking eyes.
Her toys ever spoke back to her, after she had already articulated their words in the mind’s eye. The doll’s name was Myrtle. The teddy Teddy. The Jack-in-the-box’s she’d forgotten. The rocking-home never had a name at the outset, which didn’t seem to matter today as the weather was so hot and she was spending most of her waking hours in the outside. The sky was so blue and the trees so green, she thought she was in a children’s picture book. A pop-up one, at that.
Rag harlequins and hand-puppet pierrots were stuffed into the toy cupboards of her memory...
Her elder sister was lounging upon the sunbed, the green perspex peaked hat making her face even greener and stranger than the colour of the grass, the skin down to the sharply pink nostrils dyed a hallowe’en mask.
The younger girl shook herself free of thoughts and returned to Myrtle. The doll was staring uselessly into the sky, for her mistress had left her in a position where the eyes could but open. A silver helium balloon, freshly released from a birthday party nearby, resembled a jet-liner shark, but with the waggling of its tether soon became a sperm...
It’s strange the way Myrtle thought, thought the girl.
She was able to hear the shrill voices from beyond the end of the orchard garden.
The chants of oranges and lemons made them seem outlandish: faceless children celebrating the turn of someone’s epoch. She wished it’d been possible to invite her.
The elder sister revolved on her spit, baking nicely in the over-ripe sun. The dark verdure had by now stained down the neck in ribbed smuts of seaweedy ozone.
The younger girl tried to budge, hoping in the end that someone would turn her face downwards into the grass, for the brightness hurt.