Here we are with another installment for sad Oscar. I couldn’t really think of a place to split it up, so it’s all here. Brace.
( x )
Oscar didn’t move from the doll couch for a long time. He memorized the pattern on the ceiling, then forgot it again so he could observe it anew with the later-afternoon glare across it. His breathing was slow and trance-like, but every noise in the vast human house kept his heart rate on a sprint and he wouldn’t dare let his guard down.
When he finally heard the unmistakable cadence of footsteps approaching the room his dollhouse was opulently displayed in, he sat up. Through the glass front of his cage-house, he could survey the entrance to the room.
A large part of him wanted to dive behind doll furniture and hide, but his training petrified him to his seat. He didn’t want to risk upsetting the humans who bought him. Who owned him.
It didn’t take long for Charlotte to appear in the doorway like she was walking on stage for a performance. She walked with a proud air, confidence rattling in the floor upon every step. Her presence filled the room in a way that suggested she was used to attention and praise, and expected it regularly.
The obvious reason trailed behind her. Oscar hadn’t seen the other human much. He hadn’t seen him at all until well after the man had paid for him and carried him home from where he was branded and trained.
“You have to see his new little sweater on him,” Charlotte insisted. She and her husband closed the distance, her leading him in an indulgent trot across the room. Soon, they stood before the table and were all Oscar could see.
Oscar waited on the doll couch with his feet not quite reaching the floor. His hands, obscured by the over-large sleeves of the latest sweater Charlotte had pulled over his head, rested in his lap. As Charlotte and her husband leaned in to smile at him, Oscar’s cheeks warmed.
He’d grown up knowing he wasn’t supposed to be seen, but now there was no way to avoid it.
“It’s a good one, Charlotte,” the man said to humor her.
Charlotte beamed. “Argyle in miniature! Who’d have thought?” she gushed. Her ability to resist finally eroded, and she reached up to open the locked glass door at the front of the dollhouse. Oscar barely had time to stumble to his feet before her hand snatched him up like he might disappear.
Oscar closed his eyes to the sensation of Charlotte yanking him out in the open once more. Her grip was tight. He’d become all too familiar with human hands surrounding his body, preventing his every movement. The heat radiating all around him and the tiny changes in the pressure as their hands flexed and shifted. Charlotte held tightly enough that Oscar’s chest couldn’t expand all the way for a full breath.
“Be careful, Lottie,” the man chided her. His voice was gentle, as if it had never really scolded anyone for anything. It wasn’t the first time he’d failed to instill any concern in his wife.
“Oh, shush, Ollie’s fine,” Charlotte said. Oscar finally opened his eyes and found himself held in front of his dollhouse with them both watching. Their faces were so big. Too big. He blinked quickly to hide the tears that wanted so desperately to cascade down his cheeks.
“Well. Give him his treat, then, love!” Charlotte commanded, her eyebrows raised. “My poor baby is still far too thin. He needs to eat more.”
The man rolled his eyes and smirked. “You’ll have him fat and lazy before the year’s out,” he mused while he dug into his pocket. When his hand emerged again, a crinkly plastic packet of peanuts was clutched in his grasp. Most of the contents were gone, and it had been folded over itself to prevent a spill.
While Charlotte held Oscar steady in her tight grip, the man fished a crumb out of the packet. Even broken off, the portion of a peanut pinched in his fingers was several bites for Oscar. Small crystals of salt clung to it.
Oscar glanced up and met the man’s gaze. The human’s grin was wide and encouraging, but Oscar’s fear warped the expression. The eyes were too wide, the teeth too white. The hand came closer and his heart pounded.
“Alright, Ollie. Nibbles for you,” he announced. He held the broken peanut less than an inch in front of Oscar’s face. He couldn’t move enough to lean away from it.
There was a beat of silence, and then the man moved his hand even closer. Oscar’s face was practically smothered by the two large fingertips. The crumb shoved against his mouth and he closed his eyes in surprise. The smell of the peanut overwhelmed him and even though he didn’t want to, he opened his mouth to cough.
He almost immediately gagged as the human took that as a cue to try to shove the food into his mouth. The hand moved away, and Oscar spit it out on a reflex.
Normally, he’d have worried his reaction would offend them. They wanted to feed him a treat, but he couldn’t help choking on it when they tried it that way. He would normally be scared of Charlotte becoming upset and dismissive.
Reality was much worse.
The food falling away must have startled her. Oscar couldn’t be sure. Her hand moved as the crumb dropped to the table below, and then the fingers twitched around him. In a reflex to make sure she wouldn’t drop him, Charlotte tightened her grip.
Barely too much, but too much for sure.
Oscar’s breath rushed out first, and then something loud and ominous snapped within him.
Even with his lungs compressed, Oscar let loose a raspy shriek that sounded ghastly to his own ears. Everything in him shook as a sharp pain burst from his back, for a moment so much worse than when he was branded.
Then the numbness came, and he fell.
Charlotte dropped him. Oscar thought he might hit the floor, but the table rushed up to greet him first. He landed and released another, smaller yelp of pain as another crack reached his ears.
He lay on the hard surface gasping and twitching as the confused signals arrived from his body in a wave and all out of order. His hands tingled with electric pain. His head throbbed. His ankle was at a weird angle. He couldn’t shift it to a more comfortable one.
He couldn’t move his legs at all. They were only a mass of pins and needles attached at his waist.
Tears broke free as he lay there, no matter how much of his training scolded otherwise. The humans were yelling, but not at him.
“God dammit, Charlotte, have I not been telling you to be careful?” the man thundered. His voice shook everything. The air, the ground, the table. Oscar’s broken body vibrated in time with it.
Charlotte was distraught. “I-I-I didn’t mean to!”
The man shook his head. “If this one dies you’re not getting another one,” he warned her. “I’ll call the bloke who sold him to me. Might be they know how to deal with this.”
Oscar’s eyelids fluttered and he tried to make sense of their words. All he could do was gasp. Each breath in was like swallowing fire, and every breath out was like a heavy pressure settling over him that he needed to overcome each time.
The man retreated from his vision. Charlotte remained for a moment to watch over him. She didn’t touch his fallen body, and Oscar didn’t know if he preferred that. He needed comfort more than anything. Someone to tell him he would be okay and the pain would stop. But it was her that had hurt him.
As blackness crept over him, Oscar wondered through all the pain if he would wake up again.