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Thaisa Frank ~ Occupants

The dolls were drink­ing Jack Daniels and hav­ing an argu­ment. The moth­er doll said she was through with the father doll and had rent­ed a room in anoth­er doll­house. This room was freez­ing cold, with torn pink cur­tains; but the doll­house had wit­ty occu­pants.

Who are these peo­ple any­way? said the father doll.

I don’t know their names yet.

What about your crea­ture com­forts?

I have every­thing I need there.

The father doll got out a note­book, looked at fig­ures, and said he wouldn’t send her any mon­ey if she left.

You’ll be out on the streets in no time.

I don’t need your mon­ey, said the moth­er doll. I got a job as a fur­ni­ture buy­er.

A fur­ni­ture buy­er? Be care­ful you don’t con­fuse nov­el­ty with change.

I don’t. I learned the hard way by watch­ing you.

A new roof isn’t a nov­el­ty.

I went back to the kitchen and poured a glass of wine.  From the win­dow, I saw my hus­band and our dog, mak­ing their way through the snow.  Soon they came in, fill­ing the house with cold, and I told my hus­band the dolls had been drink­ing Jack Daniels and argu­ing.

Do you think they have a drink­ing prob­lem? he said.

They just try to copy our lives, but they nev­er get any­thing right, I said. So no, I don’t think so. You’d nev­er say crea­ture com­forts, for exam­ple.

My hus­band pat­ted the dog and gave him a bis­cuit.

Seven peo­ple stopped to talk to him, he said. And some­one waved from a win­dow.

He’s a good dog, I said.

More than good.  He’s the star of the neigh­bor­hood.

When my hus­band said good­night, I went back to the doll­house. The dolls had lit can­dles and were in their four-poster bed, twined in each other’s arms. The sheets were tan­gled in love-knot and Stevie Wonder was singing You and I. When they saw me they made the cov­ers into a tent and dove inside. I poured more wine and raised my glass to them.

~

Thaisa Frank has pub­lished five books of fic­tion, most recent­ly Heidegger’s Glasses (a nov­el, Counterpoint 2010, 2011) and Enchantment (short sto­ries, Counterpoint 2012). Recent pub­li­ca­tions includ­ed work in New Micro (Norton, 2018) and Bloomsbury (2019). She lives in Northern California and is a mem­ber of The Writers Grotto.