from "Playing with Dolls" by D. M. Dore

Feel. Want. Take. The song seduces me, and I seduce those who watch.

I push onto the tips of my toes and hold for a few seconds, enjoying the stretch of calf muscles. When I return to flat feet, my hands go to my waist. I’m about to start a slow grind to the floor when the music hiccups.

“You have a message,” G says. “Urgent.”

I freeze, heart seizing in my chest as the song’s crescendo reaches its peak. Breathe. Relax.

I should open it. Tagged as urgent can only mean one thing, but I hesitate instead.

I need to cool down first, I think to myself. I’ll read it after.

G skips through the playlist until he reaches the slower songs and I tell him to stop. I settle on the floor. Trying to focus on the cooldown and return my heartrate to normal, I stretch my right leg straight out before me. I move my other foot to press against my right inner thigh, then reach for my right foot, stretching my upper body over my leg. I start to count to twenty. I make it to eight before I give up and slap the floor.

I can’t stop thinking about the message.

It’s not fair. Even when they're nowhere near me, they still control me.

A flick of the wrist shuts off the VoyeurCams. My audience wants to see skin, dancing, and sex, not a freaked-out doll preparing to read a message from her owners.

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- from "Playing with Dolls" by D. M. Dore

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