Between People

“Humans have a strange way of showing love,” Misha said to Hattie as she sharpened her knife and readied the tip towards an eyeball. The blade caught the light and glinted, eager for the plunge. It was now Friday afternoon and she had been working on the doll – a custom for a client – for two days. Her shop “Creations of Commercial” had been a surprising success since she had opened two years ago with a high number of walk-ins, and although Misha would have liked to believe that it was entirely due to the fine detail in her work, she couldn’t discount the fact that she was right next to the sex shop. Between the two, they managed to take care of the more unusual needs of the denizens of the area.

She had less than an hour to finish Death Doctor Barbie and visit her mother at the care home. She gritted her teeth.

“It’ll be fine darling,” Hattie said. “She’s old. Be kind.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

“You too will be old sometime,” Hattie said, “if you’re lucky…”

“Can you leave me to concentrate, please?”

“Oo-er, look at her!” Hattie sang back. She was sitting on the shelf today. Her Victorian corset highlighted her tiny waist and her billowing skirt made her look grander than usual. Misha sensed Hattie was in a good mood. Her clothes were a dead giveaway. She was an elegant ghost and even when she was in a bad mood, impeccably dressed.

“You can copy this exactly?” The client, Max Something or the Other had asked earlier that week as he handed the doll and a photograph of his girlfriend to Misha.

“Of course.”

“Great. Taylor was dressed like this when we met, at a Halloween party last year, serrated head and all. Thought it would be a worthy way to propose. It is a good idea, isn’t it?” Max looked worried. Misha looked at the photo and saw a tall woman, in perfect make-up, both gory and beautiful.

She was surprised at the tightening under her ribcage, the little twist within. She hadn’t had that response for a few years now, a tried and tested forewarning of rough waters ahead. When she was younger, sure, but now her life was on an even keel. Maybe Max’s proposal wasn’t a good idea.

“Good idea,” she lied to Max. She didn’t meet his eye – he looked hopeful, and she couldn’t bring herself to say anything contrary. And what was she going to say? “My body thinks the proposal may not go to plan?” Misha was aware of how batty that sounded.

She had successfully serrated the scalp with enough of a hollow to insert the ring. It opened and closed smoothly and had a latch hidden at the back of the doll’s now blood-drenched hair. The dark-red nail polish lacquer (Midnight Red!) had dried perfectly and the final touch would be the hollowed-out eye. Misha held the knife to the doll’s left eye and dug in, twisting it slightly as she went through it. She flicked the blade and popped the eye out. It was like shucking an oyster. More red nail polish and Death Doctor Barbie was done. She held the doll up to Hattie.

“What do you think?”

“Marvellously gory darling.”

Hattie glided down to Misha. “Handsome fella the one that brought this in.” Misha enjoyed listening to her cockney accent.

“Mmm,” Misha said. “Perhaps.”

It was important to be non-committal at this stage. She never knew with apparitions at the beginning of their relationship. Most were benign, but she had encountered a few, the ghouls who would sweep in and create havoc within Misha’s subconscious. All that howling and wailing through the nights and Misha was a wreck for a few weeks for a lack of sleep. But mostly, they wanted Misha to listen.

Misha was putting the Barbie in her casket when her phone vibrated.

It was a text from Amar.