Jacobson sat in serene silence; slumped in the ancient chair of his grandfather. Its wood was warped and the upholstery frayed, *in many places the stuffing poked through the age darkened fabric. He had been playing with the doll again. He held it loosely in his lap.
I walked through the doorway from which I had been observing Jacobson. I made no effort to enter stealthily, for the clatter of my hobnailed work boots would have made such an effort pointless. The sound they made in conjunction with the heavy oak floorboards was a vulgar intrusion into the peace and quiet of the room. Despite the noise, Jacobson did not move, nor in any way indicate that he was aware of my arrival.
The small room was dark despite the tall window occupying much of the north facing wall, its grimy panes bestowing the light with a russet sheen that matched the dark wood of the floor and walls. Spine cracked, yet unread books lay scattered about the floor. There had been little reading done in this house since the arrival of the doll. The furnishings were mean, consisting of merely two chairs and a small bookcase, its shelves holding nothing but a thick layer of dust. I took the chair opposite Jacobson which, whilst not as ancient as his grandfather’s chair was in no better condition.
It was now my time to play with the doll.
I had been working all day under the terrible sun in the garden where there were no dirt caked windows to filter the burning rays: working for Jacobson as I had worked for his mother and father before they passed. I had been toiling all day and now it was my turn and it wasn’t fair that he was here first.
I uttered his name, a whisper really, conscious of the placid silence I was disturbing. He did not respond. I spoke his name a second time and still nothing. I pulled my t-shirt from my pocket, mopping my brow before slipping it on. This room had a chill compared to the blistering heat of the garden.
It wasn’t fair that he had it now. I leaned forward, the chair loudly protesting my movement, and reached for the doll. Jacobson’s hand clenched around the doll’s midriff, his first reaction to my presence. I spoke his name softly, told him that it was my turn, that I deserved some time with the doll. He did not respond. I reached again and his hand clenched tighter, drawing the doll closer to his stomach. A trail of spittle wound its way from the corner of his mouth through three or four or five days worth of stubble.
I reached across and grabbed the doll by one of its delicate little hands. He made a noise of protest. I had been watching his face, his mouth had not moved. I looked down at the doll. It was looking at me. Looking at me with Jacobson’s eyes.