// abuse, gaslighting, violence, bad end

The email is only one of many, a single line mixed in with a long list of rejections. You emailed every doll repair and resale shop in a two hundred mile radius, trying to find someone who would be willing to purchase and repair you, but they all turned you down.

You understand it of course, most shops won’t touch an unowned doll, the legal risks involved aren’t worth it. It was always a shot in the dark, so when your clouded glass eyes scan over the email offering to purchase you, you almost don’t believe it.

Purchasing ununowned dolls and selling them into servitude is a crime, only a small number of authorized Dollmakers are permitted to create and sell dolls. Freed dolls are supposed to remain freed. A kindness, they say. They say a lot of things.

The email comes from an encrypted address and lists a coffee shop to meet you at, along with a date and time. The prospect fills you with nervous adrenaline and you light a cigarette, trying to steady yourself. The meeting can’t come soon enough.

The humans must be getting to you because on the day of the meeting you spend almost an hour obsessing over what clothing to wear, eventually settling on a nicer dress you were given during rehabilitation. Even dolls want to make a good impression.

The coffee shop is part of a chain, a bland corporate gig identical to every other shop in their franchise. As instructed, you purchase a cup of tea and sit by the window. Sheets of rain beat against the glass beyond as you count down the moments, feeling your pumps racing.

“So you’re the one huh? Typical.” A voice says as a woman in a business suit sinks into the seat opposite you. She steeples her fingers as she studies you, and you can’t help but notice the disgust in her eyes.

You start to say something but she silences you with a raised finger, smiling coldly, “I never gave you permission to speak, thing.” She snorts and sips her coffee, shaking her head, “objects only speak when commanded.” You hang your head and nod.

She takes out her phone and begins composing a message while drinking her coffee. You remain seated quietly while she does so, automatically falling into old patterns of deference. Even though she seems cruel, or maybe because of that, you feel deeply comfortable.

She finishes her drink and stands, looking at you in the eyes for the first time, “Well, are you coming along, doll?” You rush to your feet and answer affirmatively, letting her lead you out of the shop like a lost puppy.

Halfway to her car she grabs you, securing your wrists with a ziptie. You don’t resist. “You’re lucky I want you,” she says as she shoves you in her car, “Most people wouldn’t want anything to do with a stupid useless doll like you.” You nod in agreement.

The concrete room they keep you in is cold and lightless. You sit quietly in the middle of the floor, your dress stained and tattered. They never bothered to give you clothes or repair your damages, why would they bother investing in a useless doll like you? Frankly, you’re lucky anyone wants you at all, they keep telling you that. You know you’re useless and broken and that they’re giving you a purpose out of kindness, but you can’t help but wish they kept you in better condition. 

Each morning, they drag you from your room, ignoring the limp in your leg as they force you to walk to your assigned work area in the textile mill. Your damage is getting worse, and you can’t help but wonder what they will do to you the day that something important in you finally breaks. Eventually, that day arrives.

It was a careless mistake on your part. All it took was a moment’s imbalance. You grab the wrong thing to try and catch yourself and the roller crushes your hand, shearing off your fingers at the knuckle joint. You crumple to the floor, trying not to sob as your eyes fill up with tears. You know what’s coming.

They find you not long later and take you in for examination. They look at you pensively, shaking their heads as they look at your damaged leg and ruined hand. You can feel yourself shaking. You know what’s coming.

You’re not provided with food or summoned the next morning for work, or the morning after that, or the morning after that. You know what’s coming, when it finally does, it’s almost a relief.

The woman who purchased you eyes your damaged form with a look of contempt. 

“Unbelievable,” she says, “What a useless piece of trash. We took you in out of the kindness of our own hearts, and look at what you did to our property.” 

She kicks you across the room. You feel your external panels crack as you bounce off the wall. You don’t move, you don’t do anything, not even as she crushes your other hand with her heel. 

“Dispose of it,” she says, “It’s not even worth dismantling for parts.”

Rough hands shove you out of the car and your head hits the curb as it speeds off, leaving you broken and abandoned in the pouring rain in front of the same little coffee shop where they bought you. Poor little doll.

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