The Dollmaker's Rage
by Mari Ness
The dollmaker needs a year at least for each doll. Sometimes two. They are all handcrafted, of course, and the time needed to make the skin feel exactly like human flesh and settle on the bones, you understand--
The stranger is not interested in understanding. "Two months."
"Impossible. Each doll"--
"You will set aside everything else, and do this."
"I assure you"--
The dollmaker takes a deep breath.
"Remember your place, dollmaker." The stranger leans forward. "Remember how easily you can be removed from it."
The dollmaker parts her lips.
"Remember the others."
The dollmaker swallows.
The dollmaker does not waste time. With her remaining gold--damn the stranger for not paying, for being less generous in gold than in threats--she hires two servants. One to stitch clothing for the dolls. The dollmaker has always preferred to keep this in house, and her customers regularly return for new clothing. The other to handle everything else--cooking, cleaning, curious visitors at the doorway. She needed no more strangers. The second servant would no doubt end up cheating her--that was the way of servants--but she would be alive.