The saw made a quick buzzing noise, and then it paused. The sound lingered in the air with the dust. His old wrinkly hand brushed some of the sawdust off of the edge of the cut. And then with a long shhh blew some air across the edge. The cut was smooth and straight. Just like it should be.
The thin piece of wood slid perfectly fitted on the tiny little staircase. It was the third tread, counting from the bottom up. The entire staircase is only six inches tall, and it had taken him five full minutes to perfectly shape each tread. He left that one, not glued in place, just sitting waiting for him. While he grabbed another tiny thin board. He carried it over to the little router, and set the groove for the front of the tread. The little router whirred to life at the touch of a button.
The dust was growing in the air, even with his expensive vacuum system running. He was wearing a dust mask, as he always did when he worked long hours. This would be his final house.
Four hundred houses. He really liked the idea of stopping on an even number, and this was the four hundredth house. He would be retiring in less than a week. This house should sell for eight thousand dollars, that was the going rate. But he had every intention of keeping it, the final dollhouse.
It was Victorian, as most of the styled doll-houses were. He loved those particular houses because they were intricate, detailed. He knew he would be spending at least a full month individually carving all of the handrails and the spindles for that staircase. And they would be gloriously beautiful, worth every second of his efforts. After the front of the tread of the step was routed, he moved it back to the tiny saw blade. He measured and re-measured, and then cut the tread to fit. He set it on the fourth stair. It fit perfectly, there was sadness pushing through the dust in the air. A finality. This would be the end. Last staircase, and he was one tread closer to packing up his workshop and retiring.
When all the treads were finally cut for the staircase, he carefully glued them all into place and then hammered with the tiniest little nails until they were well seated.
Then with a soft smile, he looked at the perfectly proportioned little stairs. This would be his masterpiece. Every trick that he knew from his entire life’s work would be put into this dollhouse. He gently twisted the banister knob, and the staircase popped open as a little set of drawers. It was one of the many secret latches that he had installed in this house. He carefully pushed each step back into place. And twisted the knob again all ten stairs popped forwards, spring-loaded little drawers.
If he could’ve built that into his own beautiful home, he would have. But at this moment in his life, even with his houses selling for eight thousand dollars at a crack, he still had never purchased a custom home. Nothing at all like the houses that he built, with secret little levers. This one would have at least seven different secret letters.
One would definitely be a candlestick, and one was the stair banister. And he still had five left to decide on. The house was covered in dust, not a single bit of it painted or stained yet, just raw wood.
And he smiled brightly as he stared at the empty rooms that would come to life before his fingertips.
The dollhouse was perfection, he managed all seven of the latches worked perfectly and smoothly upon their installation. He was just finishing up coating each and every piece of wood with paint, tile, and tiny perfectly matched wallpaper.
He was carefully lining a piece of glass with glue while he held it with a pair of tweezers. He had carefully glued tiny pads on the ends of the tweezer so they wouldn’t scratch the tiny pane of glass. It was as thin as paper. He would carefully use a suction cup to place the glass into the window frame. The suction cup was about as big as an eraser on a pencil. Carefully, he set up his tools, waited five seconds for the glue to set just slightly before he pressed the glass gently into place. His wife came in.
“Is that the final house?” She said, with a sneer of disgust. She had never enjoyed his career. And now, that it was almost at the end, she seemed to have the most hate for it that she had ever had. “Is it done? Can we move on with our lives now?”
He didn’t respond, ignoring his wife, as he had done a thousand other times. Maybe ten thousand other times. She was unreasonable, that’s what he always thought to himself. Unreasonable women do as they please.
But he didn’t need to reply, she could see with their eyes that he wasn’t quite done yet. It was close, maybe twenty or thirty more hours of work. In a project that took in more than two hundred hours, twenty or thirty left was next to nothing. But she wanted to schedule that cruise.
She let out a nasty little laugh. Revealing her gums with no teeth. Even though, he had bought her teeth, she refused to wear them. And her scraggly gray hair that looked like she had just been electrocuted moments before, even though he had offered many a time to take her to the salon and get something pretty done.
They weren’t even close to poor, so why did she insist on wandering around looking like a bedraggled old homeless woman? For a man who’d spent his entire life makings tiny little intricate beautiful things, his wife had spent the entire time looking like a hobo. It disgusted him. She disgusted him.
But, he had no plans to leave. After all, he was a man of convictions. And he would not walk out on his wife for no reason. Well, for this lame reason of her choosing to be an ugly old hag. That wasn’t enough to leave her. She had to do something worse. Besides, even when she was unpleasant, she was still his. There was comfort in having her. Back when they were young, she was his rock, she helped him sell his first house. But as the years had grown on, her mood towards his work had stiffened and grown cold. He should have retired last year, to appease her, but he really wanted to finish at four-hundred houses. He’d been doing this for forty years, what was one more?
The suction cup made a soft kissing noise as it finally adhere itself to the perfectly ready glass. The glue was nearly perfectly set, it was ready. He turned and he was placing the glass into the baby’s bedroom. As he pushed on the window frame, studying his wrinkled, trembling hand before he slipped the glass into place his wife turned. As she moved, her big clumsy body bumbled into his. The glass shifted, and he wasn’t dexterous enough any more to catch himself. The glass knocked from his hand and sliced into hers.
He held his breath a moment, as her eyes grew big and wide. A trickle of red was starting to drip.
She let out a scream and shook her hand violently, as if the glass was a spider. The miniature window slipped out of her flesh from the force of her flailing. The glass, dripping with glue and blood, spun like a Chinese throwing star smashing into the house. Tiny shattered bits of glass went flying literally everywhere all over the tiny intricate library. He was absolutely exasperated.
She was injured, yes, but he was furious. This was the third time she had managed to knock something into his final creation. And this time, this time she shattered glass and blood all over the interior of the nearly completed library. He slammed his perfect little tweezers down on his desk. Then he turned and stared at his hideous wife. “Why are you even in here?” He said, anger growling out with every word. Like a rabid dog.
She was sucking on the sliced hand. “I think I need stitches. You cut me.” She said, her accusatory tone was mixed with a whine of pain. “Why the fuck would you cut me?” She said, her voice growing downright shrill. It was like she was trying to grate every single nerve of his with her pitch.
And it was working well.
“I’m going to have to order new glass! It will take weeks to get here. Plus, I’ll have to clean up all this blood. You are why this takes so long.” He said jabbing his finger at her face. “You stupid…”
“I’ll curse you.” She said, with a painfully calm, angry voice. The room grew suddenly cold, as he was finally pushed too far.
“You hideous bitch.” He replied. “Do you know how much I think about divorcing you? I do. All the time. But I put up with you because you are my wife. And that means something to me. But, honestly? Fuck you. Fuck you and your toothless, hideous face.” It was the first time in their entire marriage that he used hateful language at his wife. Though she had used cruel words to him plenty of times. Usually he’d say fine dear, or it’s okay. Or I’m sorry. But today, he just wanted to finish his masterpiece. And he was so close. This would take hours upon hours to fix
But he was not expecting the thing that happened next. As she straightened her back and pointed her finger at him. And he felt the curse long before she finished saying it, it felt like cold water slowly being poured from the top of his head all the way down his body. A cold frigid feeling dripping across his entire soul, his entire being. He couldn’t reply, he was stuck gargling on his words like it idiot.
When she finally relented, he leapt on top of her and stabbed straight through her neck with the funny little suction cup device. It sounded like it kissed her right before it penetrated her.
A month later he was dead.
But the house was complete.