Dolls Don’t Grow Old by Demitri Acosta

Ines Vuckovic (c) 2016

The night was still, it’s sky black, and the doll walked down the very middle of the empty one-way street. She kept her eyes fixed on the pavement beyond, which extended out into nothingness. On her back she carried a teddy-bear, it’s arms slung over her shoulders and her hands gripping its stump-like paws.


“No voy a llorar,” she told herself. “No haré.”


The doll, she was the size of a seven or eight year old girl, which anybody would’ve mistaken her for. She was so life-like that the only thing that might’ve betrayed that she actually was a doll was her clothes. Her dress was obviously a doll’s dress and her shoes were obviously a doll’s shoes. But her skin, her hair, and her eyes were lush with life.


Yet there was a smell about her. Odd and foreign, a smell of rusty iron and rotting organic matter. She tried her hardest to ignore it, just as she tried to ignore all the smudges and stains all over her dress, just as she’d told herself that all the little bits of this and that which now riddled the teddy bear’s fur were inconsequential.


On either side, the street was lined with two-story apartment houses and trees and arc lights, which lathered everything in a gloomy amber glow. Everything was asleep, the cars parked, the people in their beds. There wasn’t even a breeze to give a little life to the trees.


“No. No. No haré,” she said as she leaned her head back and looked upward so that gravity might help her. There were no stars out, no northern light.


For, despite that she had traversed that street many times before, despite that she knew exactly where she was at and where she was going to, the doll was lost. She knew it.


She stared up at the glowing bulbs above as she went on her way. The arc-lights — like droplets of sticky, sweet, golden honey.


“Como la miel para el té…” she said. Her face began to crumple.


She turned her gaze on the trees. Their tops were illuminated by the arc-lights but the rest was left in eerie shadow. The trees were old, the doll could tell. She knew not only because of how tall they were. When trees were young, they grew upright, erect, their branches and leaves nice and tidy. But when trees were old, they grew crooked and bent, their branches gnarled and twisted, their leaves ragged.


But dolls don’t grow old.


She furrowed her brow and lowered her head until her eyes rested on the pavement.


“No haré. No haré,” she said. “No voy a llorar.” And she tightened her grip on the teddy-bears paws.


But dolls can’t cry. Even when they want to.

Demitri Acosta is a writer from Chicago. His short story “Listless” was recently published in Paper Darts, an online literary and arts journal.