Take me out. Play with me. I’m shivering. You can flip the switch to make shadows go. I shudder, waiting to roam. The glass fills with light. Piped-in air smells of candy, girls trembling after misted showers spritz us with moisturized perfumed waters. Hot air vents blow-dry our faces, hair, and bodies, coated in gleaming oils and aloe. After the shower, we are lonely, even for each other. Each isolated in our own parallel cube, we are displayed, stacked beside, below, and above other nude girls encased in this giant rectangle of glass walls. The case shimmers. I stare out at the dollhouse and shudder. The glass case quakes. Girls quiver. When the floor becomes a treadmill, we run in our cubicles, exercising for hours like hamsters in a cage so our muscles will not atrophy. When the showers mist us, again, all our sweat and tears go down the drain. Clean, perfumed, glistening flesh behind gleaming glass, we are curiosities, living dolls, shadows or light. We are ready to live again. Outside the glass, the dollhouse beckons, full of wonderful toys—the kitchen with its sinks, pots, dishes, and ovens. All the curiosities in cabinets. Toilets! The tufted bathroom mats so pastel like after-dinner mints shattered by pestles. Oh, I love toilets! There’s nothing greater than toilets. I love to shit on them and shit on them. It feels so good, even when I know you’re watching from the peephole. All the halls! The halls, the halls, the halls, the halls, the halls where we can walk again. The bedrooms where we can sleep in beds! I almost remember what it’s like to drink real water from a glass, to touch curtains, to sing with other girls. Even if it hurts, it feels good to hunger, for the stomach and organs to really awaken, free from feeding tubes, catheters, and colostomy bags. All these clear tubes dripping in and out of me, tying me down, binding me to the case. I want to be able to move. I would love to move my bowels when I decide. I would rather be owned than forgotten. I would rather be used than thrown away. I like to shit on toilets and to bathe in bathtubs. I like to drink water from glasses and to eat food I can chew and swallow and put into my mouth, even if someone else is playing with me, deciding what food to put in the house to trap me like a mouse. I’ll take the bait. Make me do anything. I just want to be chosen. Please, please take me out. I will be good. I promise. I will do anything, anything you want. Anything at all. I promise we will have fun, if you just open the glass case. You’ll see why I am better than the other dolls in the collection. Oh, the things I will do. The things you can do to me. I love you. I love you. I do. I’m yours. I will be yours and you will be mine. Put me in any room and tell me what to do. I’ll play all day. Just give me a chance to get out. Let me out. The glass is breaking. It shatters me inside where the doll clothed in light is full of darkness as the peppermint air flows through vents with laughing gas. Now comes the music. Beethoven, as usual. We are all laughing. Even though we can’t hear each other, we see everything. I see the other girls. They see me. It’s funny, so funny, even though I don’t remember why and will likely start crying again at any moment, for reasons unknown.
Aimee Parkison is the author of Refrigerated Music for a Gleaming Woman, which won the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. Parkison is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Oklahoma State University and has published four books of fiction. More information about Parkison and her work is available at www.aimeeparkison.com, and you can follow her on Twitter at @aimeeparkison.