In a house full of dolls—each delicately handled, meticulously kept in pristine condition, all kept immaculate in their display cases when not in service—this one stands out with scuffs and gouge marks, creaking joints, fading paint, wrinkled dress, all the signs of ungentle use.
The others serve—all prim and proper—at their assigned places, while this one hides in and around corners as unobtrusively as possible, following her mistress wherever she goes in her estate. Guests instructed to ignore her still often can’t fail to notice the meek little shadow.
Some pity her—the wretched, unkempt thing that looks all the more neglected next to the others. Many guests privately wonder why the shabby one is not simply discarded. All know better than to question the mistress of the house, who does not deign to explain herself.
Yet when the guests are gone, the other dolls tidied and back in their cases, it is this doll whose hand is held. This doll who is pulled into bed with her. This doll who is held and touched and played with. This doll who the Mistress clings tightly to when dreams are fraught.