Not an hour later he was sitting playing with the dollhouse, all grins. He felt so content. His problems had faded. Why was he worried about if he was a good dad, or if he was a good husband. It amused him that he ever worried if this dollhouse had cursed his family. But not anymore. Now, he was relaxed. Mark felt enlightened, almost high with pleasurable drug. If he could bottle this feeling up and sell it he’d be a millionaire over night. If he could’ve shared it with the world there would be no crime, there would be no pain, there would be nothing.
He had figured out that if he spun the stool in the kitchen, the pantry would open. He was incredibly pleased with himself for figuring out the tiny secret latches in the dollhouse. But his phone started ringing. Who would be calling him at this time?
Kelly’s name flashed across the screen. He grinned, oh his lovely bride! “Hello honey? Are you having a good day?”
“You fucker, pick us up from the hospital.” Said Kelly, annoyance ringing through the phone. But it didn’t faze him.
“Okay baby, sure. Do you want me to pick up flowers on the way? It’s just… Such a great day out. We can stop at the park!” He said, completely enthralled with the idea of seeing his loves.
“My ankle is broken, and you dickhead. You ditched us at the hospital. Pick us up.” She said, her voice laced with threat.
Mark shrugged, “Okay, if you say so. I’m sorry that I left you there, I don’t even remember doing it. I’ll come get you right now. Then we can go for ice cream?” She hung up.
He came out to his truck and turned the key. The engine rattled like an old tuna can rolling down the road. There was a loud popping noise, and the sound itself was a big warm hug from his grandmother. He smiled and slipped on his sunglasses, drumming on the steering-wheel. He didn’t even seem to notice when he thumped his broken finger on the wheel by accident. The pain running up his arm from the cracked bone seemed miles away.
Not twenty minutes later he had his three favorite people in the car. And he couldn’t stop grinning looking over at Kelly. She had the cutest crutches. She was not grinning, arms crossed, scowling out the window like there was some sort of spider on the other side of the glass.
“You guys want to play game?” Mark said, his words were happy little bubbles bouncing from his throat. He wished they could go to a trampoline place. Or maybe Chuckie Cheese! They hadn’t been there in ages. “Or go to Chuckie Cheese?” He said, he could hardly stop himself, once he had the thought it frolicked out his mouth.
“Take us home you dumb shit head.” Said Kelly. “Girls, I told you this dollhouse is changing things, and I think it’s affecting your dad more than the rest of us. And we got to figure out… How to stop it.” She was seething, but refused to yell at Mark. In his current state it would be utterly useless.
“Okay, okay. That sounds like fun too! Maybe we could make pizza? I love pizza. Don’t you girls love pizza.? Coralina? Beth? We can put your favorite toppings on top. What if we make it look like a smiley face?” Mark started singing to the radio before they answered. He was drumming his hands, his broken finger knocking against it with out any regard to the pain. Kelly stared at him, and his permanent, glossy grin on his face.
The anger on her face shifted to alarm. But she said nothing, instead silently dipped into deep thoughts.
Soon they were home again, he was inside making pizza. Kelly poured over the books he brought home from the library. She was pale, and terrified. Every time she looked up at her husband, laughing and making pizza, she felt her stomach turn a little further. Beth left the pizza making session, and tugged on her mom’s hand.
“How did the dollhouse get fixed?” She whispered.
Kelly frowned. “What?”
“When you went in the doctor van, with the lights, daddy smashed the dollhouse. How did it get fixed?” Beth said, she had uncertainty in her tone, and shuddered slightly. She hesitantly stepped forward and touched the perfectly shingled roof.
“Go help dad make the pizza.” Kelly said, with a sudden hoarseness. She didn’t want Beth to touch that thing again. Her heart was caught in her throat as she stared at the house.