The house had been passed down through the generations and was finally given to Regina on her eighth birthday. The story was that a great-great grandfather made it for his daughter, a replica of the mansion they lived in. It had three stories and covered the entire top of Regina’s dresser after her mother and father helped her carry it upstairs.
It was fully furnished with handmade tables, chairs, and couches; everything a house needed for its occupants. Regina could have spent hours staring at the tiny furnishings and the hand-sewn curtains on the windows, but her party was still in progress downstairs, so she reluctantly left, biding her time until she could run back upstairs and explore the new addition to her room.
When it was revealed, Regina was so excited about the house itself, that she didn’t notice it already had an occupant. He, too, was handmade and was the only thing, other than the furnishings, that had survived through the years.
When Jack heard Regina leave with her mother, exclaiming her joy once again in tones only an eight-year-old could appreciate, he smiled slightly to himself and set to the business of exploring the new dwelling his home had been placed in.
He jumped up and glanced down to make sure he wasn’t too disheveled. It wouldn’t do to meet his new neighbors looking all wrinkled and dusty. His gray slacks were a little worse for wear and he spent some time running his hands down his long legs in order to rid himself of the dust that had settled. He did the same with his not-entirely-white long sleeved shirt and gray vest, adjusting and buttoning as needed. When he felt ready, he walked down the long, curved stairway in the front hall and opened the front door.
Standing in the doorway, he surveyed his new neighborhood. The colors never changed much through the years, always pinks and purples or variations of the two. There was a huge canopy bed lining one wall, and everything in the room was tidy and neat, unlike some rooms he’d occupied. Regina had more toys than he was used to seeing, though, and he continued to glance around, noticing his new neighbors, although some of them were pretending not to notice him, oddly enough. In that moment, he decided not to wait for his first party like he normally did.
It looks like this neighborhood could use a little livening up, he whispered to himself.
Having made his decision to plan the party for that very night, he turned to head back inside, but his eye was caught by something in his peripheral. Turning towards it, he realized he was staring at one of his new neighbors. His breath caught in his throat and he felt a yearning deep inside his heart swell up in his chest. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever beheld.
Her long blond hair was kept in pristine order, brushed to a gleaming shine, and it poured down her head and over her shoulders. She was a tiny thing, but not so tiny she wouldn’t be a perfect match for his long, lean frame. She was wearing a blue dress that hung on her body, with lace that stretched to her fingertips. And such tiny fingers they were. He was mesmerized.
He finally realized he was staring and glanced quickly up to her face. She was staring back at him and a slight flush had spread across her face. He smiled and nodded his head, hoping she would be at his party so they could be formally introduced. He had every intention of making her his, no matter what it took. She smiled back and her hand lifted in a dainty wave.
Oh, yes, he told himself and headed back inside to prepare for the evening.
Regina made things quite a bit easier for him when she came into the room later in the evening. She hurried through her preparations for bed and once she was in her pajamas, she ran over to her dresser and started opening the doors and windows in the house. She pulled down a few of the dolls she had stowed away on a shelf and started placing them inside, not really playing yet because she knew it was already passed her bedtime.
She finally noticed Jack laying on a bed in a room upstairs and she let out a loud scream of joy. She pulled him out of the house and held him up. “Well aren’t you just handsome.”
She grabbed Lacey, her favorite doll of all, in her other hand and held her up so she was facing him. “Lacey, meet… hmmm. I don’t know his name, but isn’t he lovely? I think you two are going to get along splendidly.”
She was placing them inside the house, on the couch in the front room when she heard her mother calling.
“Regina? Are you ready for bed?” Just as she finished the sentence she walked into the room to perform their nightly bedtime ritual.
“Yes, Mama.” Regina walked over to her bed and laid down as her mother walked over to her bedside. When she started to pull the covers up over her, Regina asked, “Mama, did you know there was a man doll in the house?”
“I completely forgot about him! His name is Jack.”
“Oh! That’s a nice name. Lacey is going to love him!”
“Well, if you ask me, Jack is more of a ladies man.”
“What’s that mean?”
Her mother sat down next to her on the bed and leaned over to brush her hair to the side.
“It means he likes lots of women and has a hard time loving just one.”
Regina looked at her mother thoughtfully. “Well, do you know what I think?”
“What’s that my darling?”
“I think Jack finally found the woman he’s going to settle down with. I’m going to make sure of it!”
Her mother laughed and kissed her on the forehead. “Well, I hope you’re right, Love. You sleep tight now. Sweet dreams.”
Regina closed her eyes as her mother softly walked to the door, turned off the lights, and closed the door with a soft click.
Jack and Lacey sat on the couch staring at each other, both slightly uncomfortable at what Regina had said to her mom.
“Well, I’m going to…”
“Are you going to…”
They both started talking at the same time and stopped, waiting for the other to start again. Lacey finally laughed, easing some of the tension that was spiraling around the room.
In a soft voice that ran shivers down Jack’s spine, Lacey said, “I’m going to go get ready for the party I hear you’re hosting tonight.”
“Word travels fast.”
“It’s a small world where we live.” Her winsome smile beguiled him, making it hard to think.
He stood, leaning over to offer her his hand. As she stood, he leaned in and whispered, “The world is as big as you wish.”
She looked into his startling blue eyes and smiled. “I’ll see you in a few hours, Jack. It was so lovely to meet you.”
“The pleasure, I can assure you, was all mine.”
He led her to the door with one hand loosely hovering at the small of her back.
It was the same every time. He awoke to an empty house, but the minute he needed something, it was there. He didn’t know if it was just the house that had been created with magic flowing through it, but he took advantage, no matter where it was coming from. There were drinks laid out, the pool was filled with water, and music was playing through the house when he opened up the front door to a multitude of new neighbors.
They all walked around in awe, at first, not quite sure what to make of the new addition to their life and home, but soon they were happily enjoying what was offered. Jack basked in the glow of laughter and voices raised in the excitement of enjoying the company of friends.
He spent most of the time with Lacey by his side and even stole a kiss by the pool as the party was winding down. His head exploded in stars and he thought he would die of complete happiness, but when he opened his eyes, his happiness was standing before him, smiling shyly up at him.
They were inseparable after that first night, not just because Regina kept them together, but because they belonged to each other. Their love lit the whole house and the room around them and everyone else was made happier by the joy they shared.
It all came crashing down a few short months later when Regina took Lacey one day to go on a family outing. Jack was stunned that he was left behind, but happy for Lacey that she was going to experience something new. He paced the whole day and everyone in the room kept their distance, knowing he was suffering but not knowing what to say to make it better.
Jack heard Regina before she flew into the room, wailing and throwing herself on the bed. He was sick. Lacey wasn’t with her.
He waited for Regina to stop crying and when she did, she sat up quickly on the bed and looked his way.
“Oh, Jack!” she cried as she ran over and grabbed him to her chest. “I’m so sorry. I accidentally left Lacey on the train and I screamed and screamed for Mama to go back for her, but she wouldn’t, Jack, she wouldn’t go back. And now Lacey is gone forever.”
The crying started all over again and Jack suffered his own pain while held firmly to Regina’s chest as it heaved up and down in agony. After a while, Regina’s mother quietly entered the room and held her daughter as she cried.
“It’s okay, Reggie. I know she was your favorite, but she is just a doll. You have so many more!”
Jack didn’t think that would help, and he was right. Regina cried even louder, throwing herself on the bed in a not-quite-tantrum. She was eight years old, after all. Her mother sighed and sat down next to her, patting her back. Regina slowly calmed and finally slept and her mother pulled the covers over her, wiping her brow before walking out of the room.
As is true of eight year old girls, Regina’s grief didn’t last long. Jack, however, was undone. After that night, he never again ventured outside the house on his own. Regina tried helping him move on, but it was no use. Jack’s heart left with Lacey on the day she was taken away and it was still with her wherever she was.
Chuck Wendig threw up his X meets Y challenge this week and I was so excited! I loved this challenge when he did it in January. I tried a random number generator but ended up with something I wouldn’t even know how to write, so I decided to pick it instead. After reading through the choices, I settled on one I thought could make an interesting story. What you have is Toy Story meets The Great Gatsby in a little over 1,800 words. I hope you enjoyed it. I had a blast writing it!