When inspiration wasn’t her close ally, she’d spent hours preparing muslin stuffed torsos ready to be personified. She kept them in a pile of beige lifeless lumps—no heads and limbs, just torsos waiting to be conjoined with the rest of the body.
She pulled a stuffed figurine from the pile and surveyed the eye-less, blank, ceramic busts. Like her muslin torsos, Shelby created her own doll busts with various features—wide and narrow eyes, slender and bigger noses, high and low cheek bones and thin and full lips. She carved the mold and baked the heads in the kiln. All was taken into consideration when designing a doll.
Closing her eyes, she wondered upon the eyes of her next creation—wide and hopeful, or soft and sleepy. No, her muse has narrowed, introspective eyes. She found the doll’s head with the perfect shape.
Retrieving the bust from the shelf, she admired the shape of the face. Her first step was gluing the eyelashes—long and dark. When she pressed the glass chartreuse eyes into the head, suddenly the doll came to life. “Artym,” she said, the name rolling off her tongue.
The Russian name didn’t surprise her. Scanning across her studio of dolls, yet to have found a home, they all had names from differing nationalities despite the same dark-haired, green-eyed features, names like Fidelma, Loucette and Rikard. All were a part of her clan. When they left the haven of her studio, surely they would be given other identities by their new owners.
With the Artym doll’s chartreuse eyes in place, she stitched thread through the tiny holes on the ceramic shoulders and limbs to the muslin torso. She set the body onto a stand where she would perform her magic. She glued a shaggy dark-haired high temperature wig onto the head. Reclining back in her seat, she stopped and stared.
“What is happening in the world today?” she asked, as if the doll would provide the answers. “Men washing up on foreign shores, dams exploding, pollution, hunger, war.” She sat back in her chair, feeling her chest rise and tears come close to falling from her eyes. “I am not one to worry for the future, never was, but lately I feel the world is about to crumble.” She combed the dolls hair with her fingers. “Can you help me?” Her own words struck her as ironic. Speaking to the doll as if it were a lover. One thing was for sure, this was going to be no ordinary doll. She was resurrecting a soul from her past and bringing him back to life.