If there is one thing that I absolutely adore about living in Dijon it is that I get to spend time with my landlord and his wife (who I shall refer to as Philippe and Isabelle, respectively).
The door to their home is always open to me, and that door is a literal one: there is a staircase that connects the apartment that I share with my two French roommates directly to their own house. If I am ever in trouble, help is just a knock away.
Dinner is also just a knock away on some occasions. Philippe is quite fortunate that Isabelle masters the traditional French way of preparing delectable recipes from scratch. It was thanks to her that I got to try various meals that I have only glanced between the pages of intimidating cookbooks, recipes so tantalizing yet with preparations far too ominous to tackle. I've tasted glasses of red Burgundy wines from bottles which were nearly as old as I am. I often stay well past 11 o'clock at night just chatting with them.
When the time comes for me to sleep, I say my goodbyes to Philippe and Isabelle and make my way towards the salon that has the staircase to climb down to my apartment. That is when I see THEM.
There they are, all five of them, nestled on the chairs and sofas and gathered in some bizarre session of their support group of Creepy Old Porcelain Dolls Anonymous. Years ago, they may have been the beloved plaything of a rosy-cheeked girl with perfect curls tied with satin ribbons. A little girl who smiled upon them as she held them tightly in her arms and graciously changed their crisp doll clothing and carefully brushed back the silky strands of hair. Now, those years are gone. Their dark eyes reveal a deadened expression. The pasty color on their drained matte visages indicate that the spark of life no longer resides in them. They crave to feel alive again. They search for the closest being with a pulse to suck the vitality out of them...
...Crap. THAT'S ME!
That is, only if the cult of dolls feel merciful enough to let me climb down to my apartment in one piece...
I stare at the motionless group. They almost seem docile. Yet I know this is a ruse to lull me into a false sense of security. I can feel their vast eyes boring upon me. I can almost hear them vocalize their insidious intentions with their French accents:
I am paralyzed. I continue to stare at them. It is FIVE against one. Then, I glance straight at the doorway.
That doorway no mere gap; it is an escape portal to my safety!
I muster some courage to build inside of me. I hold my breath and zoom down the rickety steps, far too agile for the dolls to react before they come to life and dispose of my presence.