The Doll

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Halloween is such a stupid holiday.

 

What’s the point in getting dressed up and scaring people for the heck of it? Even the movies are really stupid, the whole Halloweencity or another series and the one with the three witch sister. What’s it called? Abracadabra? Who cares anyway? And totally untrue ghosts stories, I mean who would buy into those? If it wasn’t for the candy I would never participate at all.

 

My boots make heavy thumps against the ground as I walk into my home and out of the nippy fall breeze. As soon as the door is shut behind me I’m immersed in a delectable smell. If there was one good thing that came out of this season it’s the pumpkin food, which I can smell something of the like wafting from the kitchen. If I had my way, pumpkin things wouldn’t be seasonal, because it’s just that good.

 

“Mom!” I yell to the empty space of the house, dropping my bag at the door next to my shoes before continuing inside.

 

Oddly, there was no response. ‘Mom is always here right when I get home from school. Where could she possibly be?’ I say to myself while walking further into the eerily silent house.

 

No one in the living room.

 

No one in the kitchen.

 

No one in the dining room… But there is something new there.

 

At the head of the table sits a dirty, chipped porcelain doll, hands on the table as if waiting for someone to come sit down. Though it is just a doll, something about it is entrancing and at the same time creepy. Despite the weird feeling, I draw closer to it, seeing that it is covered in a tattered and faded flower dress, the hair has matted in some places while other places were completely bald, probably ripped out long ago.

 

Then there was a sound. A sound that made me stop all at once in confusion, but when my body stopped it disappeared. ‘I must be crazy,’ I think, trying to justified for the faint brush of sound. I started towards it again, it started as well. It sounds like….

 

“Hey, honey,” my mom says from behind me, making me jump slightly and turn around to face her. I catch sight of the costume she has on and want to throw up my lunch. For being a woman of fifty, not going to lie, she has a nice body, but that doesn’t mean that she should wear the same skimpy nurse costume she’s had since before I was born.

 

Already putting the words that would begin the recurring argument, I look back at the odd doll still sitting there, patient as ever. “Mom, why is there acreepy doll sitting at our dinner table?”  I ask following my mom out of the dining room and into the kitchen, were a huge platter of pumpkin cupcakes are sitting next to some white cream cheese icing.

 

“Oh that’s just your grandma Sylvia’s doll. She said specifically in her will that I was to have this doll and that I had to go pick it up. Strange since she never took it out for me when I was younger, like she did with all of the other ones. When I got home I figured I would put it at the table, seemed to put the house more in the Halloween mood,” she explained nonchalantly while starting to put the icing on the orange cupcakes.

 

Even after she explains it, riding my ridiculous notions of anything creepy about this doll, a shiver still runs down by back feeling an omnipresent stare. No wonder it was dirty and old; Grandma Sylvia was a flighty and forgetful woman. There were times you’d walk into her apartment and most of the time there was at least ten projects halfway finished, dropped at a moments notice. That also includes cleaning things;  if she started putting things away, there was a good chance you would never see it again.

 

“Does it have to sit there at the table though?” I ask eyeing the thing from the room over. And its little painted face seemed to be doing the same to me.

 

“Oh hush, aren’t you going to get changed? We’re leaving to Mrs. Derby’s party in a half an hour, so you better be presentable,” she said changing the conversation.

 

At the mention of the party, I groan. “No, I’m not going,” Every year since I can remember, the Derbys held a Halloween party for everyone on the block, and each year I was shoved into pointless costumes and had to sit around while parents get a little too tipsy. Last year was particularly horrible; not only was I shoved into a ridiculous Panda Bear outfit, but one of Mr. Albert’s kids spilled their apple juice right on the crotch region, making it look like I had peed myself.

 

“Alright, I guess you’re old enough to not go anymore. Too bad you won’t be able to have any of my delicious pumpkin spice cupcakes, but oh well,” she says shrugging her shoulders, not even phased.

 

I stand there for a moment, shocked that it was this easy to get out of it after all these years of humiliation and boredom. “Alright… Well, I’m just going to start on my homework,” I say before walking slowly away from my mom, not sure of whether to be more weirded out by the doll or her.

 

***

 

Sometime after my parents leave, and after the sun disappears leaving me in a dark barren house, with just the light from the television, I sit scrolling through the channels but nothing catches my interest. ‘Man, this is turning out to be a beautiful Halloween.’ I say to myself, happy to think that I’m at home instead of a party that would most likely remember what happened last year and call me Mrs. Pee Panda. Finally I find a show to watch–Psych. When I click it, the screen freezes momentarily, while the sound that only a few hours earlier I heard rings out faintly.

 

A young girls laughter.

 

Then everything picks back up as normal, the giggling no longer there, Shawn and Gus show on the screen as though nothing happened, as if it was just part of the episode and I didn’t know it. Even though I’ve seen every episode there is, and that’s never happened.

 

A low grumbling emanates out from my stomach, asking the question of how long has its been since I last ate. The clock on my phone reads 7:00 letting me know that it’s been about six hours since lunch. Without turning on any lights I make my way to the kitchen, skillfully avoiding any obstacle. Having lived in the same house for eighteen years, I could walk around this house blindfolded and go unscathed. In the kitchen though, I turn on the light before raiding the cabinets for anything that might soothe the the hunger that was growing swiftly.

 

Satisfied with microwaved mac ‘n’ cheese, I take the hot bowl full of liquid gold and walk fastly back to the couch, trying not to scorch my fingers. Right before I put down the bowl on the coffee table in front of the couch I look up and sees the old doll laying out on the ground. A strangled gasp escapes my lips while jumping backwards, gripping the bowl tighter despite the radiating heat.

 

Little chipped blue eyes stare up at  me, the TV lights flashing, making it seem like the eyes are alive and glistening with thought instead of being what they really are. Paint. Porcelain. Inanimate. They radiate something wrong, something evil….

 

“Alice, are you okay?”

 

I scream now, throwing up the hot contents of the bowl which lands right back on me as I turn to face the voice coming from behind me. Instead of seeing a horrid face of something from my worst nightmare; I see my Aunt Miriam.

 

It takes me a few heavy breaths before I can manage to say, “What are you doing here?”

 

“Your parents called me to check on you and make sure you’re okay. Are you okay? Why did you scream at me?” Aunt Miriam asks worriedly, looking around to make sure that we are indeed safe, and not about to be attacked by anything.

 

“I just-” I say looking back at the floor and see that it’s bear of any signs of the doll. “You scared me because I didn’t hear you come in,” I say trying not to let on my moment of insanity. Maybe it was just my imagination. Yeah, that.

 

“Hey, what’s that doll, doing on the floor?” Miriam asks pointing into the living room. I follow her finger to the same dirty little thing laying face down on the floor halfway to the chair on the opposite side of the room, as if it was tripped running for cover.

 

Immediately my heartbeat picks up, knowing for sure that this doll, that thing, has horror story written all over it. “I don’t know Aunt Miriam, but it’s creeping me out. Please, help me get rid of it,” I plead trying to dry my sweating hands on my pants.

 

Miriam looks at me with a somewhat amused look. “Oh come on, you’re being such the little scaredy cat. It’s not like it’s alive,” she says pinching my cheek like she always does, but I don’t budge. Something about this is just lifting the hairs on my neck. “Oh fine, I’ll help you. We’ll just-” she cuts off, the blood draining from her face as she looks back over to where the doll was, but now is no where in sight.

 

“Are you sure you’re home alone?” Miriam questions, just as freaked out as I am. I answer with a nod, too scared to find my voice. “You sure?” Yet again another nod in response. “Okay, this is creepy,”

 

Without warning Miriam heads for the door, and with a start I follow close behind looking around furiously for the thing, unsure of where it might pop up next. Metal sliding against metal stops us cold in our tracks. Again the metal rings out along with a girlish giggling.

 

“Don’t you want to play with me?” the distant voice asks sweetly. The sound send a cold sweat running down my back. With as much courage as I can must I turn around to see the doll just behind us, sweet red lips in a smile, blue eyes shining, knife in hand.

 

Before either of us attempt to answer, the doll swiftly takes a step closer to me. That’s all it takes for Miriam to open the door, pulling me after her, trying and failing to close the door behind us. The doll squeezes through the tightening crack just before it slams shut.

 

Not looking back, we run, heading across the street, in search of people to help. Miriam grabs hold of my wrist and tows me after her suddenly changing course. Bright lights of a car speeding towards us. Suddenly I think Miriam is trying to kill us, but she keeps on pulling, just clearing the car by a fraction of a hair.

 

The breaking of glass sings loudly compared to the screeching of the stopping car. We both stop and look back at the dimly light road to see shattered porcelain on the ground, covered in ripped rags, the knife still gripped by a slim tiny hand. Dust rises from the remnants and for a second, seem to take on the shape of a young girl before disappearing altogether.

 

 

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