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I have made a few minor revisions to correct spelling and grammatical errors,
but have made no attempt to "improve" upon the author's original style.
Or, you could go BACK to The Living Mannequin Shop Window, or to the Main Hall
CAMERA TWO: The girl peeks around the main door, that in the two centuries of its existence seems to have grown thicker, like a tree. It must be creaking. She slips in, throws a casual glance at the reception desk and moves on through the hallway.
`There is no one at the desk. Shall I ...?'
`No, let her.'
`She seems to know where she is going.'
`She does. She has been here before.'
CAMERA ONE: On through the hallway. She has no regard for the marble tiles, the 16th century Chinese vases and the guilded baroque table, that was swapped for an entire village once, or even the glorious garden outside the elegant French windows. She does see the mirror, but not because of its Venetian glass. She must be one of those women who cannot pass a mirror without checking their hair, their face, their clothes. She looks and looks, without adjusting much of her appearance.
`She takes her time. Shall I go down now? She must be waiting.'
`She is not waiting, she is enjoying herself.'
After almost a minute, she moves on. Yes, she does not walk, she moves. She moves to the big door to the right on the end of corridor. She presses her ear against the wood, listens. She bows and tries to look through the keyhole, awkardly balancing on her high heels. Her black sweater and the little miniskirt are stretched to their limits by the curves of her body, although you could call her slim.
Is she happy at what she sees? Her heavy black hair has fallen across her eyes. She returns to the mirror, only to comb her curls this time.
She listens at the door one more time, then enters.
`She could be damaging something. I must go.'
`No, you need not. Irina is down there.'
`That will not be much help.'
`I will go down, then.'
She looks dreamily around in the room. Admires the blond mannequin, touches her face, caresses her hair. Does she know? When I enter, I find her looking inside one of the boxes.
(It had been a joke.
One night after a party, she had been sleeping a long time, though they had not been drinking that much. She felt awful. Someone had washed her, bathed her, very thoroughly. Yet, there were bits of white powder under her nails, and in certain other places.
One night after another party, she had been sleeping a long time, though she had not drunken that much. She woke up by hands touching her on every part of her body. Nearly every part. Again, someone had bathed her. They were plying her limbs in a very particular way, a matter of millimeters. Her legs were pushed into plastic moulds, it seemed. They fitted with less than a hair's width of space left. The moulds snapped shut, with a muted click.
Nervous fingers put a gag in her mouth, while other people were attaching the leg and the arm moulds to the one encasing her body. Why gag me, I have not resisted you. Should I resist?
There was a mask. A nice mask. It looked like her own face. I had to, it fitted perfectly. When it snapped in place, only her hair could move freely.
they hoisted her on her feet
and she realised
she could not even fall down.
Someone opened a curtain.
She was standing in a shop window.)
`They were your friends. It was a joke.'
`It was. But it was on me.'
`I can make it up to you.'
`Yes, you can.'
She turns around and rummages into one of the boxes on the shelf.
The box has a sticky note on it: `ARMS'. Without too much difficulty she finds what she is looking for. Two plastic arms, marked `ALEYNA', in tiny printed letters. She hands them to me and stretches out her own arms. I understand what she wants. I put one of the arms at my feet, carefully. I press gently on a certain spot of the other one. It opens in two long halves, ready to recieve the living flesh that it needs to get a soul. Even its fingers are divided over the two halves. I hold it out to her, and she pushes in her arm, her hand, her fingers, and I close it. CLICK. Then the other. CLICK. She holds out her arms, looks at them with a mixture of surprise and contentment. I manage to find the legs, and fit them on her own. CLICK. CLICK. And there she stands, carefully balancing.
`You look quite convincing.'
`We seem to have lost the trunk piece. You will have to do without it.'
`I took it home last time. You forgot to take it off me. I am wearing it now.'
She makes a few clumsy steps, waving her stiff arms around.
`Attach the limbs to the body now, and I am at your mercy like I was in that window, Doll Maker. No man has ever had me at his mercy. No other ever will. This will be my armour.'
As I turn the screws and lock her arms to her body, I say:
`I always ask them why.'
`Look at me. Look at my body. It is beautiful, I know, but it is all I have got. Some day it will get ugly and a little later it won't be there at all. Like the art of saying witty things, or money, a big shiny car - all the things that make people interesting, those things are not there for me. There is just my body and my face, and they will wither. Running around, worrying will make them wither faster. I have always been jealous of them.'
She nods backwards.
`You mean the mannequins.'
`Yes. I have bought a fortune of clothes just to be like them.'
`The one you are hinting at is not a very good example.'
I get the screw I was working in place and then turn the girl around on her feet, to have her looking at the mannequin.
I fumble at its neck, under the wig and find the clip that I am looking for. CLICK. I pull away the mask and carefully remove big dark contact lenses from its eyes, to allow vision. The mannequin blinks and smiles. Irina smiles, whenever she can. She has a nice, friendly face but it is balancing on the verge of being past its prime.
`I am sure you and Irina have not met.'
The girl's face is frozen, gaping, though she is not wearing her mask yet.
`They don't wither,' she says. `They don't wear out.'
I hold up the mask, and Irina nods, to show she is ready to be restored to her former status. When I put back Irina's lenses, the girl says:
`So I will not be the only one. By the way, I want eyes like those.'
`They are not eyes. The lenses make your eyes look bigger, but they are opaque themselves.'
`I want them.'
`How would you know you get attention when you are blind?'
`Outside the shop window, I would hear high heels approaching, standing still in front of me, or even better, they would walk by, and suddenly double back to stand still in front of me.'
We have spare lenses. I put some fluid on a pair.
She widens her eyes, eagerly, greedily, anxiously.
I open her eyes even further and put them in place, as gently as I can. I look at her blind stare. She has become something else now. She has escaped.
I CAN'T SEE YOU, BUT YOU CAN'T TOUCH ME.
MY BEAUTY IS NOT BE WORN OUT AND DESECRATED BY THE HANDS OF MEN.
I AM BEYOND YOU.
I tell her I am going to put the mask in place. Odd: we cast a mask from a face, and then put it on the same face. I always wonder.
`I will make pictures. You can see yourself later on.'
`You must', she mumbles, `you must.'
The mask still fits. I watch her standing in the dim light of the afternoon. She was wrong in one thing: it is not the motion that wears you out, but emotion. It doesn't matter, she is beyond both now.
The surface of the casts has a ice white glow - so much closer to her true self than the natural colour of her body. I am mirrored in its surface and have to pull myself away.
Then I leave, and leave the two mannequins as they are, staring at each other and not seeing. What are the things that make people interesting?
Or, you could go BACK to The Living Mannequin Shop Window, or to the Main Hall