Each weekend his daughter would arrive with her dollhouse, the one he had bought her. While she played, he watched her, smoking and drinking. As the smoke circled the room her eyes would water and the coughing would begin.
In the dollhouse, none of the family smoked or drank. The son had made it past one year old and the parents weren’t divorced. Things were perfect for them. He could see how much that perfect family comforted her; often she would fall asleep beside the house, smiling. She loved that family.
He, on the other hand, despised that family with all his heart. It was like being subjected to your least favourite TV show every night; he knew reality and after a few beers, he’d wish his bitch of a daughter would face it too. The booze often made him angrier, yet at the same time, it helped numb the tortuous experience.
One weekend he had bought himself an especially expensive bottle of whisky. Why, he wasn’t sure; he just felt he deserved it. When his ex-wife came by to drop off his daughter, it was hard not to grab it and smash it across her face. But he managed to control himself; that was something to be proud of at least.
It was the usual routine; his daughter acted out a variety of perfect scenarios while he sipped the whisky. He stared at the cheap plastic dolls, wishing he could melt them with his eyes. Those perfect scenes; at least give me some conflict, some drama, he thought to himself.
As he finished off the last drop of whisky, his daughter drifted off to sleep on the carpet, with the same smug smile she always wore.
He got off the couch and walked over to the house. He stared down at it, feeling suddenly like an all-powerful God. And he felt the need to smite. Staring at the blank-faced mother, he thought she had the same emotional coldness as his ex-wife. He lit a cigarette and dropped it on the house.
Unexpectedly, the fire caught quickly and the house erupted in flames. After a moment’s shock, he watched it and found it a pleasant sight. He heard coughing and turned to see his daughter staring up at the dollhouse. Tears filled her eyes.
He stamped down on the house, extinguishing the fire with his shoes. But it was left in ruins, blackened wood scattered across the living room. He laughed when he saw the melted faces of the families. But his daughter cried.
She never came on weekends again. But he didn’t mind. Now he could enjoy his whisky in silence.
by James Hunter
(prompts: cigarette, dollhouse)