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About Lisa Grant

Award winning narrative illustrator and multi-purpose image maker. Often approaching social issues, encouraging empathy through design and educating people on solutions that they can be a part of.

I've recently finished my degree in illustration/graphic design at the London College of Communication and am available for hire and collaboration. Also available for friendly chats!

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The Spirit and the Dolls

INTRO: The picture below is by the talented Josceline Fenton and by her request I have written a short fairy tale based on this single image. It will hopefully be one of several stories for a project that she is working on. It is based in the world of her beautiful webcomic Hemlock and other than the image itself the only factors that Josceline gave me was that the main character must be called Kikimora, which happens to be the name of a Russian folk spirit.

Kikimora by Josceline Fenton

The Spirit and the Dolls

A long time ago in cottage built deep within a forest, there lived a small girl named Alyona who had such long and thick hair that she had to keep a comb in it to always keep it neat and tidy. Alyona had no brothers or sisters and the nearest village was very far away so she did not often see other children. To stop her from being lonely her father, who was a woodsmith, carved her several lovely little wooden dolls to play with.

One day, when Alyona’s father was trading in the village and her mother was in the forest collecting firewood, the little girl had set her dolls out all around the room to play with. All of a sudden a strange and frightening sound stopped her. Alyona turned around to see where it had come from but she saw nothing, so the little girl went back to her dolls, putting them about the floor. Then came the strange noise again, louder this time, rattling the walls of the house and the dishes in the kitchen. This time Alyona searched harder, checking the cupboards, climbing to see above the high shelves, crouching to look under the low beds but there was nothing. So she went again back to her dolls.

And there, carefully picking up all of the dolls, was a strange little girl.

The girl looked just like Alyona except that where her own skin was pale, the strange girl’s skin was dark. Where her own hair was black, the strange girl’s hair was white, although the strange girl even kept a comb in it to keep it neat and tidy, just as Alyona did.
What Alyona did not know was that this was no ordinary girl, in fact, it was not a girl at all. This was Kikimora, a spirit that had lived in the house since before Alyona was born. Kikimora had watched Alyona grow up and had grown to love her, and the spirit wished that she could be a pretty little girl with beautiful thick hair just as Alyona was, so that was how she made herself appear.

But Kikimora despised mess and untidiness and she did not like Alyona putting her dolls all around the house. The spirit held the dolls aloft and once again made the strange and eerie sound but Alyona did not understand. Alyona wanted so much to have a real child for company that she convinced herself that the strange girl was here to play with her. “Do you not like these dolls?” Alyona asked the spirit. “That is fine, I have many more that my father has made for me!”

Alyona brought out more and more dolls and left them all around the house, in the cupboards and above the high shelves and under the low beds and she said to Kikimora, “There, all of the dolls are out, we have so many to choose from!”
But Kikimora was only made more upset by the dolls lying all around the house in such a mess and she howled and made a high pitched whistle that hurt Alyona’s ears. Alyona realised she had displeased her new playmate and yelled her apologies until Kikimora was quietened. “Very well,” said Alyona, “We shall play a new game, my dolls are all around the house now and it may be fun to see if we can find them all before my mother is home.”

So the girl and the spirit searched the house for all the dolls and both found it a fun game indeed. Kikimora could float above the high shelves and Alyona could squeeze under the low beds and they helped each other to look in all the cupboards. They had found almost every doll when Alyona found a doll she had never seen before, hidden behind a beam of the house. It was made to look like an ugly old woman and Alyona knew it could not have been made by her father who made only lovely dolls for her.
Alyona turned to her new friend and showed her the old woman doll. “Isn’t it an ugly thing?” she laughed. Kikimora looked sad then, and her dark skin wrinkled and her thick hair thinned and the comb dropped from her locks, and Alyona saw that the doll was made to look like the spirit’s true form. Kikimora then took the doll from her and left the house, leaving only the comb for neatening and tidying behind to remind Alyona of her only childhood friend.