The Dollhouse
Tiffany, Age 13, Toronto, ON

“Jenna, phone!” yelled her mother from downstairs. “I think it’s Sally!”

Jenna turned off both the blow dryer and her radio so she could hear herself think. Sally? What did Sally want? Jenna hadn’t talked to her since sixth grade.

Nevertheless, the sixteen-year-old wrapped her hair, red and fresh from the shower, in a towel and sprinted to her room.

“Got it!” She shouted downstairs. “Hello?”

“Hi Jenna. It’s Sally. It’s been so long since I’ve talked to you. How have you been doing?” Sally sounded cheerful. Sally was always cheerful. She probably hadn’t changed much.

“Fine,” Jenna answered, wondering where this was going. Or rather, where it was coming from.

“That’s great.” Sally paused. “I was wondering…maybe you could come by my place after school. We could do something together, you know, just like we used to.”

Going over to Sally’s house after three years of no contact? Jenna had a feeling that would be even more awkward than a telephone conversation.

“Sorry, Sally, but I don’t think I could do it. I have to get home straight away. I’m very busy with homework, big projects and all.” For once, Jenna was glad of school. She decided to add a little finesse to it. “I have a piano exam that I need to practise for.”

“Are you sure? We used to be so close, remember?”

“Yes, I remember,” the teenager said with a guilty look at an old picture on her dresser drawer.

Two girls smiled back at her from a birthday party. It seemed so long ago when that photo had been taken. She and Sally went way back to the days when there were cooties and pinkie promises to be friends forever.

When Sally’s parents divorced, Sally moved out of the city, went to a different school, the whole nine yards. Since then, they had lost touch. After all, there were more important things a bit closer to home to deal with.

It had been a long time since they last did anything together. Maybe she should go, if only this once.

“Jenna? Are you listening?”

“What? Well… I guess I can make some time for it if it’s important.”

She winced at the squeal of delight coming from the other end of the line. “Yes, yes! It’s very important! We can have tea parties and play in my dollhouse…”

Jenna did not point out the fact that the last time she had had a tea party was in grade one, nor that her friend had said “in” her dollhouse rather than with.

As her school day wore on, Jenna became more and more reluctant to meet her friend. The whole pinkie promise thing had been a childish game, really. Surely Sally wouldn’t take it seriously and start acting like they were back in sixth grade.

Before she knew it, she found herself outside her friend’s house. The building looked like a giant dollhouse itself. There was no changing her plans now. She thought firmly, if it comes down to it, I’ll tell Sally we can’t be friends anymore.

It was, of course, Sally that answered the door. After a hug and a rather forced smile (from Jenna at least), the two girls went straight upstairs to Sally’s room at her insistence.

Jenna thought she had stepped into an eight-year-old girl’s fantasyland. Soft, white carpet muffled her footsteps. All the furniture was old-fashioned and looked as much like a dollhouse on the inside as it had on the outside. Lace curtains were tightly drawn over the windows. With a pang that she ignored, she noticed the very same picture that stood on her dresser drawer was also on Sally’s.

One corner was dominated by a giant dollhouse, painted red and white. Jenna peeked at the elaborately detailed interior. There were no dolls.

Sally closed the door softly behind her.

“This is a very nice room.” Jenna looked around, afraid to touch anything. Everything looked so delicate.

“Isn’t it?” Sally asked quietly, her eyes glinting. Her friend avoided her gaze. “But it gets lonely sometimes. I’ve been waiting very patiently but you never called, never talked to me until today.”

Jenna took a deep breath. “I’ve been very busy since you moved. There hasn’t been any time to catch up with friends.”

“Lies!” Sally screeched. She looked up, shaking with fury, her eyes wide and blazing.

Jenna felt herself getting smaller and smaller. She tried to scream, but she could barely hear herself, as though the noise was only coming from a tiny doll. And then she was in a different room entirely.

She was in a kitchen. But something was wrong: the tables, the stove, the chairs, and the walls were all made of plastic.

“Where am I?” Jenna asked, horrified.

There was a girlish giggle that shook the kitchen and sent shivers running up her spine. A high-pitched voice of her friend answered her. “You’re in my dollhouse, silly. Now we can be friends forever.”

Sally giggled again, her last sentence filled with glee: “We’re going to have so much fun together.”

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