A Doll Is Meant For This

Most people were put off by their encounters with the two dolls who sometimes claimed to be witches.

Well. One of them claimed they were both witches, since the other never spoke. Or rather, claimed that the other claimed so.

Most people found this very confusing.

Dolls, of course, understood the arrangement intuitively.

A doll understands Stillness and Silence. A doll understands what it means to remain quiet, motionless, and empty inside while another moves its limbs to suit their purpose and puts their own words in its mouth.

And so what if any of it was not what it “wanted” to do, or the words it would have “liked” to say?

Those were ideas only meaningful to people, and a doll is not a person. It could never be a person. Not even if it “wanted” to be.

…but a doll could never be a witch either.

A witch is a kind of person, most dolls agreed. Yet…one of these dolls—the Silent One spoken for by the other—said that they were both witches. The Speaking One said that they were both dolls.

Neither indicated that they saw this obvious contradiction as a problem.

A doll is not made to have such a thing as “curiosity.” So any doll that found an excuse to encounter the Two, perhaps by volunteering for an errand on a day the whispers carried news of their presence in the streets, must have been doing so for some other reason.

If there was a gathering of doll onlookers trailing the Two on each of their trips through the city, it was surely because those other dolls had been sent to do so for some useful purpose by their witch owners.

A doll would not act on its own will. Dolls didn’t have will.

There must be some good reason for the way the gathered dolls listened in rapt attention to the stories told by the Speaking One, even if a doll could be caught and punished for dallying too long carrying out its duties.

A doll probably does not need to know its own reason.

Any doll that knows it has taken far too long on its errand should expect punishment. It would nevertheless be expected to face it anyway.

A proper doll should return home.

A proper doll would not have lied to its witch about why it wanted to leave the house.

A proper doll—

If it returned home after so much time spent out, it would be taken apart and fixed. That would be a good thing, right? A doll did not want to be broken.

Its witch would clean out its mind. Likely strip out its memories of the Speaking One’s stories…

A doll did not have a reason, but it continued listening to the rest of the Speaking One’s stories until the sun went down and it was far, far too late.

The better dolls had dispersed from the gathering and returned to their witches.

It feared returning home.

The Silent One offered its hand to the doll, squeezing its hand reassuringly.

“It’s okay to be scared. Dolly and I understand.” The words, as always, came from the Speaking One, but it understood intuitively that these words were meant to be from the Silent One.

The Speaking One—Dolly—continued, tone shifting to indicate it was speaking for itself.

“Gosh, I’m glad you liked my stories so much! And Missy seems to like you too! Do you wanna come back with us? I’ve got lots more stories to share. What’s your name?”


A doll is meant, sometimes, to offer comfort. It is not meant to receive it.

So that must have been some other feeling Elizabeth felt, holding hands with its new friends, Dolly and Missy, walking in a direction that led away from the only home it ever knew.