This house has extra space. More space for me to develop and grow, Daddy says. More space for me to do all the things that good girls do.
I can read any of the books Daddy chooses for me. I can bake using our special ingredients. I can clean and make house like we’re a good little family and I can make pretty things. I like making pretty things.
This house has extra space so I can have a craft corner, a little nook for me to sew and create. Daddy cleared the shelves and drawers, dramatically pulling everything off the rails with a “Ta da”. He has a special sparkle in his eyes when he acts dramatic like that for me. He likes it when I giggle and clap and call out for it “again, again!”
That night we had a bonfire, burning the old to bring in the new. I kept a few little trinkets from the things that were here before, recycling, giving them a new life, making them my own. Daddy says I’m extra special for taking so much care of our world. He says I’m born of the Earth and Nature and that I act as people should. Showing care for the land and eviscerating those that abuse it.
Those trinkets were the first of my collection. I cutted them up into pieces, ingredients for my creations, the supplies for my projects. Daddy said the excess bits wouldn’t burn so we fed them to the pigs as a special treat.
I like the piggies, I think they’re a bit like me, sweet and snuffly on the outside, all cute and fuzzy. They’re good to stroke but the frenzy when you feed them blood… Gosh! I think they have beasts inside them! Beast like Daddy and I do. Daddy says they’re nature’s blade – they obliterate anything that’s left at their mercy.
I admire the rows, all neatly organised. Each drawer labelled with the contents. Easy to find the various bits and pieces I need.
Daddy says we might stay here a while now so I can try some bigger projects, and maybe he’d help me. We could make some furniture, more “our style” Daddy said, replace the old fuddy duddy décor of the previous farmers. Daddy would use his new work bench and I can sew the covers and decorate them.
Or I could try my hand at some clothes, maybe even a gown so one day Daddy could take me dancing.
If we stay, and Daddy wants to stay, I may not have any new toys for a little while. The shops of the cities are far away and we have less chance of playthings volunteering themselves for our games, although Daddy thinks he’s seen one or two. A campsite down the lane might bring friends who’ll want to play.
I can make myself some new toys though, a pretty dolly family to have adventures around the old cottage and the barns. I can make them. I can make them perfect. I can make them using all the adorable teeny body parts laid out for me to choose from.
I even have hearts so they can feel and eyes so they can see and I was very careful in saving hair that I can plait and style a hundred times over. It’s all still attached to the little scalp sections. They just need stuffing and sewing together.
I stroke each piece in turn counting them out, delighting at my wealth of supplies, my treasure trove. “Two little arms, two bigger arms, two little legs, two bigger legs…” Then tap each of the glass jars containing the accessories. I was very lucky to have so many eyes to choose from, a selection of colours. I was extremely frugal, saving all the things I thought could be used again when we took over. I didn’t let any parts go to waste that were good.
Daddy said the farmer’s children would be so pleased to know I was making toys with what was left over. They were only little, but I know they played with dollies like me because I tore them apart too, the strange little plastic shells. Empty of emotion, not like my dollies will be, they still have life in their eyes.
My first attempt at a new dolly is a disaster. I spend days trying to cut the pieces to fit and sewing them is hard. I dig the needle deep into my hand many times and soon become distracted, gorging on my own sweet blood. Looking at the end result, I’ve simply made a chewed mess.
Daddy comforts me in his lap, sat in front of the open hearth. He strokes my hair with one hand as he holds up my creation to examine it with the other.
“I can see you’re getting better,” he reassures me. “Practice my Blade and you will be a master before you realise it.”
Re-emerging from the nestling spot in his chest, I ask with uncertainty, “Really?”
“Yes.” He smiles, warmly at me. “Put your mind to it Blade and you can achieve anything. You may not appreciate it now, but you will.” His belief in me makes my heart race.
“Anyone with any sense,” he adds with a cheeky twinkle in his eye, “would do well to recognise your talents too. Just,” he kisses me on the nose, “…like I do.”
The next few days are lost in a feverish haze of craftwork. Daddy brings me meals and exclaims with awe as I show him my progress. I want to do well for him and he said I should be a master at this so I will be. I will be. I just need to keep practicing.
Eventually, tired and sore, with fingers rubbed raw, I collapse in bed with Daddy.
“Well..?” He asks expectantly.
“All. Done.” I exhale each word and fall into a deep slumber.
Daddy has a surprise for me on waking, leading me sleepy eyed through the cottage.
The small girl looks at me from the corner of the play room. She’s shaking with nerves. Daddy says my friends are always nervous to meet me because of my reputation, because they all think I’m so marvellous. I don’t think I’m anything special, despite what Daddy says about me.
“I know you think I must the most marvellous girl in the world,” I say with ease. “But I’m not. I’m just another normal girl like you.” I give her my best smile. “I’m silly and clumsy and just a bit of a dork really!” Daddy says I’m a bit of a dork. He says it means I’m cute and it’s because I haven’t caught up on growing up yet.
I can’t wait to show her my special new dolly family.
Her face scrunches up as I hand her the boy doll. He has genuine boy parts, although they’re a bit big for his body and they don’t move like they used to. I don’t understand why she doesn’t seem to like it. Her little boney hands cover her quivering lips and wrinkled nose.
“What’s wrong.” I ask, forlorn at her response. “Don’t you like him?”
She pushes the boy dolly away, retreating as far into the corner as she can. Her slender limbs look like a spider retreating into a hole in the wall.
“Fine!” I shout, angry at her lack of appreciation for my art. “Hide in a hole like a pathetic spider. You don’t deserve to be my friend!”
Stupid girl. Stupid stupid girl. Doesn’t she know how hard I worked?
Daddy knows exactly what to do, of course. Life is simple here on the farm. No pressures from the outside world, no scrutiny nor people sticking their noses in.
Just a chance to create, to raise life, grow food, live off the land and by the seasons. We’ll eat what we grow and what we can gather. The gathered girl doesn’t taste like ungrateful… Quite the opposite… With vegetables and dumplings, she’s really quite sweet. A hearty meal making the best of what’s available. And what’s left… that fits neatly in my drawers, ready to be remade. Ready for me to make perfect again.
Daddy wants to raise a whole flock, animals for meat and food, animals to breed. Animals to be proud of. We’ll never need anyone or anything else. Self-sustaining simplicity.
We’ll make this our home, our forever home. It’s quite the life we’re crafting here.