Little windows open to let the rooms breathe. Pink wallpaper hugs the walls of each room upstairs. Small feet bounce down a staircase toward the front door. All is perfect inside this doll house.
A small figure stands in front of the front door. Her brown eyes gaze from the wood to the brass knob and then down at the dirt nearby. A hand reaches for the door but dares not pull it open. She is afraid of killing the perfection inside.
"Let it be." Emily bounces away from the front door. "The world will be there tomorrow." She bounces back up the stairs. "I'll meet the world then." She sticks her head into her room, catching a cool breeze flowing through the window.
Smiling, Emily bounces toward her parents' room. She opens the door to see them lying on the bed. She tiptoes quietly up to them, watching them sleep. Retracing her steps, she exits the room and bounces back down the stairs.
Pushing past plastic, white, double doors, Emily finds herself in the dining room. Her eyes move over the polished table set for four. Her gaze focuses on a breakfront nearby, filled with knick knacks and statues. Her little feet move over to the living room nearby, where she is met with more emptiness and toy furniture.
Walking into the kitchen, Emily turns toward the doors of the family room. She slowly approaches but hesitates to open the doors. Her hand rests against the wood, but she is frozen in place. "Maybe today is the day to go outside." Her hand remains on the door. "Maybe I shouldn't go in." She doesn't move. "Maybe... Maybe I should."
The doors to the family room are pushed open. It's dark inside, for the curtains are drawn over the windows, blocking the sun from touching the room. A smell rises up from the carpet, making Emily stumble back for a moment.
Flipping on the light, Emily spies the red stain stretched across the carpet. The edges of it have turned black. A smell lingers over it, a smell of blood.
"This is where monsters die." Emily now stands by the stain. "This spot here." Her eyes gaze down at it. "Nothing stays perfect not even in a doll house." She sits beside the stain.
"What are you doing?" Emily jumps to her feet. "Emily? What are you doing?" She can't find the source of the voice.
"What do you want?"
"I just wanted to check in on you."
"I'm fine." Emily pulls back the curtains, blinded by the sun.
"You can't stay in this room."
"You should go outside today. It's beautiful outside."
"When I'm ready."
"In the meantime, you're going to stay in here, in your doll house?"
"Is that a problem?" No response. "Leave me alone." Emily looks around the room, confused.
"Fine, but you can't hide in here forever." A door is heard closing somewhere nearby.
"Hello?" Emily looks around. "Have the monsters gone?"
"Yes." She hears her own voice.
"Have we killed them?"
"Yes." She hears her own voice again.
"Then, when do we go outside?"
"Why should we go outside when more monsters will find us?" Emily looks at the stain. "It's safer here."
"It's safer here, but here this doll house has become my prison. I want to see the world."
"The world's not safe."
"It never is."
"Then, why do you want to go outside?"
"Because I want to live."
"Can't we live here in this doll house?"
"What life is there but plastic perfection?" Emily hears no response. "Will you leave me all alone to defend for myself?"
"Of course not."
"Then, take another chance. Open the door. Go back outside."
"And the monsters?"
"We killed one, didn't we?" She turned toward the stain.
"That I did." A deep sigh echoes throughout the halls of the house. "But I don't want to be hurt again."
"We won't, but what life is there if we hide behind these walls?" No response. "The world is not perfect, and there are no white knights to come for us. We have to stand up and face our own monsters."
"That we do." Emily falls to one side. "That we do."
A shadow falls over the doll house, stealing the sun from Emily's eyes. A cool breeze sweeps through the halls as the shadow moves away. The sun returns a moment later, but somebody is still standing nearby.
"There are monsters in this world, and if we don't fight them, they will continue to find us. They will take our world away, stripping it of its perfection. Then, the only thing left will be empty halls and plastic dolls." A young woman walks away from her doll house.
BIO: Born in Portchester, NY in 1977, Melissa R. Mendelson began her writing career as a news reporter for Suffolk County’s Smithtown Messenger Newspaper (2002-2004). She later freelanced for the Hudson Valley's Photo News and continues to write a variety of articles for Associated Content. Her poetry was included in Names in a Jar: A Collection Of Poetry By 100 Contemporary American Poets, and her short stories and poetry continue to be published by numerous literary websites such as Provoke Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, Memoirs of Meanness, Noble Row Magazine, the (Short) Fiction Collection, Pens on Fire, and Poets for Living Waters.