Previously on The Secret Life of Dolls: someone did a bad, bad thing.
A small crowd (literally) had gathered at the attic door by the time my brain had started working again; I kicked them all out and shut the door, and ended up having to lock the bathroom outside as well after I realized Purple Arwen was trying to peek under the attic door.
I covered Ellowyne Two with a hand towel and put her out of sight, and then I sat down to interrogate the murderer.
"What the hell were you thinking?"
He sat on the top of the little fold-out desk, elbows on his knees, head in his hands. His voice was dead. "I told myself that I was just going to talk to her. Even then I knew what I really meant to do."
"She was my size."
"I mean, of the two of them?"
"She was sweeter."
I rubbed my eyes, suddenly feeling very tired. "Okay, so--tell me what you did, then."
"I spoke to her. She was surprised. I came very close to her. I asked her if she wanted to see me in the sunlight. I knew how badly they both wanted to see that. I told her I didn't want anyone else to see. Just her. So we should go to the attic. The window faces the west, so the sun would be bright in the afternoon. I waited until then to ask her. I knew what I was going to do. I planned it. I told myself I just wanted to make her happy, but I knew."
"Right... you said that. What then?"
"I told her to pull up the blinds. I stood behind her as if I were waiting for the sunlight. Then, when her back was turned, I grabbed hold of her hood. And then--"
"Okay, you can stop now!" I said. "I don't want to hear how you enjoyed the taste of her suffering."
"I didn't enjoy it," he said mechanically--so mechanically that I wondered. "I thought I would but I couldn't. It was horrible. All for nothing."
"Then--why? Why did you do it?"
"I don't know," he said.
I think he did know--I think I knew--but it wasn't really like there was a single why to it. He didn't have a reason, exactly. He had been overwhelmed by despair, which became bitterness, which became recklessness, and then cruelty, and an inability to care what he did or who he did it to. And eventually it built up until he wanted to let it out. So he did.
He got up then, which startled me-- "Where are you going?"
"I'm going to sit in the cabinet until you decide how to punish me," he said.
The Littlest Edward came to talk to me the next day, and he looked awful, like he'd been sobbing his terrible little dry sobs all night.
"It's all my fault. The things I said to him--that was when he changed. If I hadn't talked to him that way--"
"You didn't make him kill someone." I sighed. "You might as well blame me for not ordering his Bella sooner, or the doll site for not having her in stock, or--Galadriel for not figuring out what would happen, or Anna for sticking him full of pins--"
"Miss Galadriel feels terrible about it too," he said pitifully.
"I know. But it's not her fault and it's not yours either. He chose to do it, he planned to do it--"
"I should have heard him thinking it sooner!"
"But you didn't make him think it. You didn't make him do it. He full well knew better and he did it anyway."
After a moment of silence, he said, "I don't know if it makes a difference, but--he feels awful. I can hear him thinking how sorry he is. He doesn't think he deserves to be forgiven, so he's not bothering to ask. He doesn't think there's anything he can do to make up for it, but any punishment you want to give him, he will accept it. He thinks you ought to have him executed, and he wants to--go quietly." And poor Little Edward--despite their differences and their rivalry and their animosity, he looked genuinely anguished. "I wish you would punish me too."
"Oh, God--Edward, go back to the ranch or I'll take a pony away."
Well, at least that made him scamper.
Technically, a lifeless doll--whether dead now or never alive--is just a mannequin, which is, for whatever reason, what my old Gene dolls and my sister's Madame Alexanders are, and nobody really minded having them around. But that was because they had always been mannequins; having someone the Shelfians knew reduced to a frozen clotheshorse was too terrible to be borne. Ellowyne Two had to be buried--or rather, put away in her box.
Ellowyne One, I am sorry to say, took the whole thing in an indecent amount of stride. "Make sure you change her clothes out first, don't waste a good outfit like that."
"YOU WOULD WEAR THOSE CLOTHES AGAIN? THE CLOTHES SHE GOT KILLED IN?"
"That is a perfectly good outfit, and besides, he didn't even get stains on it or anything."
In fact, she was pretty excited about getting to wear the Oh My Goth! dress to the funeral, an outfit only Ellowyne Two had ever previously worn.
The Middle-earthers were appalled; Elizabeth had to do a great deal of apologizing on behalf of her fellow Tonners, insisting that not all of them had skipped the compassion installment at the factory. Even so, the unfashionable Shelfians didn't know the Ellowynes very well--except for that one hair-pulling fight between Eowyn and Ellowyne One, I guess--so they respectfully declined to attend. The Littlest Edward spent the day quietly with his ponies, stricken both by how he had contributed to the tragedy and how there, but for the grace of sparkle, went he. Thus, only Galadriel (guilt), Tonner Edward (soul-crushing, masochistic remorse), Lyra (morbid curiosity) and Ellowyne One (fashion) came to pay their respects.
"I've never seen a dead body before!"
"Can I touch it?"
I looked to Galadriel to do some kind of--something. I mean, I'd never laid a doll to rest before.
"What makes you think I have?!" she hissed.
I looked away long enough to smack Lyra's outstretched hand. "You have moral authority! You are the Lady of the Golden Wood! So--so--lady up!"
Now everyone was looking at her.
"Plastic to packaging," she said, with a weak wave of her hand. "Doll to box. For... out of it you were taken, and into it you shall return...?"
She shot me a panicked, pleading look; I golf-clapped politely. Lyra kept edging closer and closer to the dearly departed, while Pan was tugging at her mourning scrunchie in an attempt to restrain her. Tonner Edward was rocking back and forth on his heels like he might throw up at any moment, which, under the circumstances, was something I really, really did not want to happen. And so, it fell to the one who had known Ellowyne Two best to give the eulogy:
"Well, she wore my clothes a lot, but she looked good in them." We stared at her. I guess she thought we were waiting for her to continue, because she shrugged and added, "The end."
That wasn't actually the end of Ellowyne Two, but then, we didn't know that for a while.
Next week: Shelf justice.
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