The Dollhouse

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Book: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis Read Free Book Online
Authors: Fiona Davis
and declining to speak further after she’d told them she was a journalist. Another, a large woman in her seventies, had a coughing fit and said she was too ill to speak.
    Strange. Rose had figured these women would be bored and lonely, eager to speak about the minutia of their lives. In fact, they treated her like a pain in the ass.
    A wreath of ivy encircled the peephole of the farthest door. Rose knocked and waited.
    â€œWho is it?” cried a hoarse voice.
    â€œMy name is Rose Lewin. I live on the fifth floor. I’m a journalist, working on a piece about the Barbizon Hotel for Women.”
    The door opened and a strong-featured woman peered out. “You live here?”
    â€œYes, just one floor up. I moved in a few months ago.” She didn’t add that she’d be moving out shortly.
    The woman looked her up and down. “You want to talk to us crones?”
    The harsh term took her by surprise. “I’d like to talk to you, if you have a moment.”
    The woman shook her head. She had dyed red hair cut in a flattering pixie. “No, thank you. Read
Bell Jar,
read her poems. I’ve got nothing to add.”
    â€œI take it you’ve been approached by the media before?”
    She waved her hand dismissively. “Please. Everyone wants to know about Sylvia Plath, the guest editors, the drama. I don’t know why. That was years ago, over and done with. But every few years, we get another gal like you, wanting to know the ‘real story’ of what happened to her here.”
    No wonder the other women of the fourth floor weren’t willing to talk to her.
    â€œI’m not interested in Sylvia Plath,” Rose said. “I want to know more about the place, from your perspective. What rules you had to abide by, what your life was like, that kind of thing.”
    â€œHuh.” The redhead made a face. “I can’t tell you how often we get notes passed to us from the doorman—from journalists, from tourists, from lonely teenagers—asking if we knew Sylvia the Great and Greatly Wounded.”
    â€œEven though she lived here only a month, I guess the tragedy outshines the facts.”
    â€œExactly. Who do you work for?”
    â€œI work for a media company called WordMerge.”
    The woman gave a throaty laugh. “That’s a terrible name for a business.”
    â€œTrust me, I know.”
    â€œI’ll talk with you, but I only have twenty minutes before I have to go see my doctor. You can come in and have some tea if you like. I just boiled the water.”
    Rose followed her inside, surprised at the stark contrast to the renovated units. The apartment was small and dark and needed another coat of paint. Or rather, several layers of paint needed to be scraped off first. The moldings that ran along the ceiling and around the windows were shellacked with latex. Deep grooves marred the dark wood flooring. The kitchen featured a shiny avocado-green refrigerator and matching oven, left over from the seventies.
    Rose tried not to stare at the outdated decor as the woman poured out two cups of tea. “My hope is to talk with each of the fourth-floor residents, compile an oral history. I think we take for granted so much that happened between then and now.”
    â€œYou mean ‘we’ as in women?”
    â€œNo one cares. Trust me. Everyone moves on, there’s nothing new to write about; it’s all been covered. Move on to something more interesting.”
    â€œLike what?”
    She stopped and put her hands on her hips. “How do I know? You’re the journalist, sweetheart.”
    A wild yapping erupted from another room, and Bird tore down the hallway toward them.
    â€œDamn dog. I thought I’d closed that door.”
    â€œIs that Bird?”
    The woman studied Rose closely. “You know Bird?”
    â€œMiss McLaughlin and I talked just the other day.” Not exactly a lie.

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