A Crack in the Mannequin

The harbor lights were seeringly bright overhead as my footsteps thumped down the long wooden dock.  Below, ragged reflections glittered on the black, restless water. I stepped  onto the deck of a small battered yacht and the boat creaked and lurched. I descended two stairs into the cabin; a small room with weathered paneling, so small that the king-sized bed nearly filled it to capacity. On rumpled sheets, amidst a tangle of blankets slipping onto the floor, lay a naked department store mannequin. This time she was lying on her stomach, head turned to the side. I could see her open eye blinking. I often stopped in like this to check on her. And every night this unreal thing came to life. That’s not to say she moved. She lay frozen on this bed, her plastic yellow hair fanning out across the sheets. But her eyes moved, her panicked, frightened eyes looking out from a deadpan fashion face, frantically darting left and right, settling on me briefly and then flying off like frightened birds. She was old—a  cast off from some department store window career, her unnaturally pink skin now fading to gray. Her featureless body, unnaturally thin, was molded into a sinuous pose. One leg, cracked at the hip, exposed a fringe of inner fiberglass workings. Lines bisecting her waist, her shoulder, and neck, indicated the limit to which she could be turned and posed. Her face was cartoon-like and void, her bare feet, eternally pointed.

She was always here.

Although I found her alone each time, I could tell that she had occasional visitors—just by the way she was posed differently. It was none of my business really. I guess I just wanted to offer my moral support to this sad, pathetic thing. I wanted to help if I could. One time, I found her lying on the floor and when I lifted her back onto the bed, I was surprised at how heavy she was. Not like fiberglass at all. Dead weight—almost more than I could lift. I didn’t understand this at all, but somehow I cared deeply. Some nights I just couldn’t stop myself from taking the long journey down that dock to see how she was.

I had this vivid dream on 8/15/09 and promptly recorded it. It’s haunting, and disturbing, but still, I’m fascinated by its archetypal elements and possible interpretations.

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