Russian Doll


A fair-haired girl crouched in the corner of a bedroom, the narrow bed sheltering her from sight. In fact, the only way she could be seen was from above, if somebody were to lean over the bed to look in the specific corner of her hiding place. Her hands lay palm-down on the threadbare carpet, her lips slightly parted in a confused frown. Her entire expression gave the impression of confusion; her brow was furrowed; her eyes staring meekly down into her tensely raised lap.

It would have been assumed, had she been found, that she had been avoiding company, had it not been for the hour of the day. The window above her glowed with a faint ivory light that was particularly striking in the company of almost total darkness. There were stars seen far above and beyond the room, accompanying the almost rounded, ghostly moon.

There were no sounds but for the occasional groan of the window frame as a sudden wind jerked the glass to momentary life. The girl continued to sit in the same stiff, awkward manner for many minutes. After fifteen minutes of this, she let her knees fall to the floor as she allowed her body to relax slightly, folding her arms around her body and leaning back against the cold wall under the window. The top of her head rested against the sill. She silently sighed and closed her eyes completely. She did not stir for over an hour afterwards.

The small room was filled with a random assortment of things, not all entirely easy to comprehend at first midnight glance. Every object seemed to differ in tones of grey. Only the two lonely figures standing apart on the sill gleamed white in reflection of the moon: one the shape of a square with nothing visibly explanatory as to what it could be, the other quite obviously a Russian Doll or, at least, the outer shell of one. Quite large in size and white in colour, it was extensively decorated with blue and red flowers hand-painted in a typical Russian style. The face of the doll was facing the night and was not visible from inside.

A cluttered desk occupied the far corner, beside the closed door. Upon it such things as sheets of paper, stacks of folders and books could be identified, as well as a small sphere and many small, dark coloured boxes containing unknown artefacts. There was no chair to the desk. Shelves occupied the wall above it. Although the desk was filled with books, the shelves were barely inhabited. Two books lay on their sides on one end and an empty silver photo frame occupied the other.

The room had a mildly raffish air. The peeling white window frames gave little sustenance or protection against the cold and a light draft escaped the window, blowing a strand of the girl’s hair slightly this way and that as she sat, apparently asleep. The ceiling was high enough for the draft to accumulate, making the room colder and a little forbidding and the thin, aged curtains and white painted walls gave a slight impression of an old hospital room. The metal bed head and hard-looking mattress only aided the impression.

However hidden the girl was from a strangers eye, her appearance did not seem to belong in such a room. She seemed to stand out, somehow, from the quaint shabbiness of the room. She had a modern looking exterior, a face consisting of two large, intelligent eyes, set slightly further from one another than would ordinarily be considered beautiful. They were made dirty with dark makeup or bruises, shadowing the skin around them. She looked as though she had made an effort on her appearance hours before, having perhaps shadowed her eyes and painted her lips and curled her hair, which now fell limp past her shoulders and over her chest. A creased, blue linen dress hung from her body in something quite unlike grace, though it gave the appearance of a single petal clinging limply to the flower of a frail stalk.

Shoes lay discarded on the other side of the bed, high heeled stilettos: beautiful, sparkling with diamantes and golden vine-like laces.

When the girl finally stirred once more that night, it was to sit stiffly up into an uncomfortable-looking position, her hands clasped about her knees and her eyes opened unnaturally as she stared at a fixed point on the duvet.

She sat like this for the remainder of the night until shadows started to form and to drift between lengths until the clouds were orange with the brightness of the sun and the moon had all but disappeared in their midst. The girl picked herself up and sat herself down on the unmade bed before pulling a mobile phone out from a small black bag lying on the pillow and dialling a number she clearly had memorized and pressing it to her ear. Her expression of confusion had not altered, but her fingers shook very slightly as a voice spoke into her ear.

‘Pava, I’ll be fine.’ she mumbled into the phone before the deep voice on the other end had finished.

‘Yes, I just haven’t slept, that’s all.’

‘No, not because I’ve been out all night, I got in quite early, actually.’

‘I’m fine, I told you.’

‘Stop worrying, Pava, please. I went because that actor-guy asked me, and I had a good time, really.’

‘Nothing’s wrong. I had a good time, I’m just tired.’

‘No, Pava, he didn’t do anything!’

‘Don’t do anything stupid, Pava, please. I’m telling you the truth-‘

‘Pava, oh, don’t!’

That was when the deep, angry sounding voice cut off and the girl lowered the phone to look at the screen. The man she’d called Pava had hung up. She closed her eyes for a moment and sighed deeply, all of the air seemed to escape her and she seemed to deflate somehow. When she reopened her eyes they were bloodshot and glistening. She rubbed them with the bottom of her palms before letting out a short laugh: a rigid, uncomfortable and miserable laugh.

Five minutes later she had risen from the bed and taken off her dress, slipped on a towel dressing gown and pulled a folded towel from the top shelf of a small, feeble-looking wardrobe that leaned slightly to one side, and had left the room. The door swung slowly closed behind her.

I continued to sit beneath the window, doing what I'd always done best. I counted the impossibilities.

The End

1 comment about this story Feed