From inside the dim recesses of his bedroom, the yellow light of the laptop screen soaking his skin in a sickly glow, he purchased the parts.
They arrived sporadically over a raw-bone winter. Limb by limb. Feature by feature. Ordered via the Dark Web. His hands itched as each delivery piled on his doorstep. Stomach quivered as he sliced open the boxes with the jag of a serrated kitchen knife.
Her skin was crystalline, stomach slim, hips like blown glass. Blueprints pertaining to a pristinely crafted perfection. The only blemish: crimson lips that came as adornments. He’d selected nude on the website. Allowances could be made. A first-time hiccup. The parts had taken a month to arrive and her assembly, carried out in the icy bowels of the basement, was well underway.
Months slithered by and he sunk into love. But her benumbed existence was not enough. He yearned for her delicate hands to return his carnivorous gropes. For her jade eyes to reciprocate his carnal gaze.
Over a series of opaque days, organs were installed, and nervous systems weaved through her like straggles of jellyfish legs. He sprayed her with the silkiest scent: vanilla. The perfume blending into her freshly awakened body.
She didn’t love him at first, but she stretched into affection. She loved him once he taught her his meaning. How she may delight in his whims. How she may partake in the outside world if she behaves.
She behaved. She learned.
A year or more later, as she watches him wrap himself in his brown Mackintosh – she must stay in the morose caverns of the house if he goes out without her – she thinks that she might take scissors to her hair today. Will she snip shoulder length? Among his many rules, he’s said that her golden hair need be long enough to sweep the floor.
When he returns he weeps, wails, whimpers. Collapses in a crash of appendages and grips at her sheared hair like it is sand slipping through cracks.
‘Do not ruin yourself anymore,’ he howls. He reeks of puerility.
‘I am,’ she sniffs, ‘quite unruined.’
The atmosphere rears ugly red. His vicious tongue pulses with petulance, spraying threats from his saliva-soaked mouth.
‘It is an honour to be kept by me,’ he spits.
‘Perhaps,’ she says, ‘it is an honour you should bestow to someone else.’
He jabs his finger to the crimson lips. ‘Perhaps I will. You were never perfect anyway.’
She aims to escape his fractious crumple, careen away from the shadows that contort as he snarls. But he is a master of her weak spots. He snatches at her knees, hinges snap. He rises to clutch her arms, her limbs dismember.
And so, it is from inside the bedroom, the yellow light of the laptop screen soaking his skin in a sickly glow, he purchases another set of parts.
They arrive sporadically over a raw-bone winter. Limb by limb. Feature by feature.
Emily talks to herself at night, when all the shadows in her room start to move. She has had work published with X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Ellipsis Zine, Barren Magazine, STORGY Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Litro, Tiny Molecules and Gone Lawn to name a few. She is a onetime Best Small Fictions nominee and can be found on Twitter @emily__harrison