The Living Doll

While shopping downtown one day, you find an antiques store that has a rare, old doll. You buy it for your daughter. A few days later she tells you her new toy can talk. You don’t believe her, until one afternoon you find yourself alone in the house, and it starts talking to you. Write this scene.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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416 thoughts on “The Living Doll

  1. elahisdgva

    I used to think that dolls were nothing, except perfect little pieces of plastic. They never meant anything to me, but soon enough… every look, every word, every sound slowly started ruining my life.
    It was a seemingly perfect day, not a cloud in the sky, not a single argument with my troublesome little brother Hunter, and most important, not a doll in sight. But all this happiness was going to fade away very fast. I had woken up from my afternoon rest to the sound of my mother entering the house.
    “Come downstairs honey, I have a surprise for you.”
    I was curious what she got, so I quickly ran down the steps into our living room. My jaws instantly dropped with absolute disgust. Gripped in my mother’s hands was an old, ugly doll.
    “You like it sweetie?” She said with a smile.
    I didn’t understand why she would get me a doll. Just the sight of it made me nauseous. She gave me a look of concern and sat the doll on the kitchen counter, then said
    ” Well when you come back to your senses, you can thank me later.” and left the room.
    I thought about the last doll that I had and what I did with it, thinking about that day I slowly walked across the room and grabbing the doll slightly, quietly placed it in the trash can.
    ” Hello.”
    I felt the hairs in the back of my neck stand up. I quickly turned around with a sense of caution, as if I knew what was going on.
    ” Be careful of how you get rid of me. I may come back to haunt you.”
    My whole body started to shiver.
    ” Who is saying that, who are you?”
    I heard heavy breathing and one simple word :
    ” Goodbye. “

  2. elahisdgva

    I remember when I use to think dolls were nothing, except little perfect pieces of plastic. But I never knew what they were capable of. Every movement, every word, every sound slowly started ruining my life.
    It all started on a seemingly perfect day. Not a cloud in the sky, not a single argument with my troublesome little brother, Hunter, and best of all, not a doll in sight. But all this happiness ended very fast. After getting my afternoon zzz’s for the summer I hear my mom enter the house.
    ” Come downstairs, Mayah. I have something for you.”
    Her voice sounded more excited than usual, so I quickly run down the steps. Once I am in the living room my jaw drops with disgust. Gripped in my mom’s arms is a repulsive, old doll.
    ( To Be Continued ).

  3. Luvinia

    “Lexy, come downstairs for supper, baby!”

    Kendra scooped a ladle full of her daughters favorite food on a plate and smiled as she added a trio of broccoli flourettes, preparing her side of the argument she knew would come from it. She placed both plates on the dinner table and called one last time, “Lex-!”

    An adorable blonde girl stood behind Kendra, interrupting her, “I’m right here, Mommy.” The pre-schooler took note of the number of place settings and threw an accusatory look at her mother, “You forgot Bianca’s plate!” Lexy carefully placed a small porcelain doll on the chair next to her and climbed up into her booster seat.

    Kendra steeled herself and placated her daughter by making sure to place a miniature plate in front of the chair that belonged to her daughter’s favorite toy. “Oh yes, I’m sorry,” she said as she took her seat, “How could I forget Bianca?”.

    One glance at the green color on her plate brought forth an expected whine, “Mooommmmyyyy, you gave me yucky stuff.”

    Kendra didn’t miss a beat, “Yes, and you have to eat it for Mommy because I made your favorite!”

    “But Mommy, my favorite isn’t spaghetti anymore.”

    “Not your favorite anymore?” She didn’t expect that response, “Then what is your favorite now?”

    Lexy picked at the broccoli, moving them to the edge of her plate. “Bianca says her favorite is brushetta, so that’s my favorite now too,” she stuck her tongue out in disgust, “not yucky broccoli.”

    “Why am I not surprised?” Kendra mumbled. Ever since she had picked up the little porcelain doll from the antique store two weeks ago, her daughter had certainly thrown a few curve balls her way. She knew when she saw the doll during her trip to Paris that Lexy would adore it. The doll was almost a perfect twin of her daughter; the curly blonde hair, rosy cheeks, thin lips, and even the color of their eyes made them a perfect match. As soon as Lexy saw it, she squealed with delight and wouldn’t stop thanking her mother until she passed out in her bed with her dolly tucked safely under her arm.

    The following night brought the first curve ball when Lexy had said the doll told her that her name was Bianca. Kendra couldn’t for the life of her figure out where Lexy had ever heard that name before. She blamed herself for letting her daughter watch too much TV and didn’t think much else about it. Shortly after that, Lexy insisted that Bianca refused to do anything without her. They slept together, ate together, and even bathed together (although Kendra was able to convince her daughter that water wasn’t good for porcelain, so Bianca would wind up sitting on the counter watching Lexy splash in the bubbles.) A week went by before Lexy started asking her mother about her trip to Paris, and Kendra had a few more curve balls thrown at her when her never-even-left-the-city-in-which-they-lived daughter would describe with accurate detail the places in Paris that even Kendra hadn’t known about until she researched it online. Kendra convinced herself that her 4 year old daughter had simply caught an episode about France on the Travel Channel. Knowing that Bianca was a gift from Paris, why wouldn’t an episode on the beautiful city interest her curious baby girl?

    Kendra spun the spaghetti around her fork and watched her daughter frown at her yucky green vegetables. She figured Lexy must have sat through an episode about Italian dishes on the Food Network as well. How else would she know about brushetta? Kendra vowed to start spending more time playing with her daughter instead of letting the television become a babysitter as Lexy leaned into her doll and pretended to listen intently. With a mouth full of spaghetti Lexy turned to her mother and proudly stated, “Bianca said I don’t have to eat my vegetables if I don’t want to.”

    “I think what Bianca meant to say is ‘vegetables are healthy for you and you should eat them’.”


    Choking on her spaghetti, Kendra gave her daughter a look of outrage, “What did you just call me, young lady?”

    Lexy’s eyes went wide with surprise, “I didn’t call you anything Mommy!” She recoiled and furiously pointed at her doll, “It was Bianca!”

    Kendra opened her mouth to protest when she heard the voice again, “I said,” this voice was not coming from her daughter, “you’re a liar.”

    Kendra shot an incredulous look at Bianca just in time to watch the doll slowly rotate it’s head towards her. It’s once innocent eyes transformed to those of pure hatred, and the smile on the rosy porcelain face was replaced with a frown. Kendra froze as the doll opened her mouth and hissed, “Lexy is mine.”

  4. LadyDickens

    Of course i ran afoul of the the word limit. Please forgive me, i got carried away. I just wanted to try my hand at fiction…here goes:

    “I’ve been waiting to get you alone,” a small voice said. I looked up in a cold panic. I must be hearing things; I thought to myself and quickly dismissed the icy chill that had made its way down my spine and settled in my toes. I had been alone in the house for hours, deeply absorbed in a novel I purchased years ago and had never found the time to read. It had been months since I had this much time alone to myself, since I had allowed myself to detach so completely from my ever-compelling to-do list of motherly and wifely duties. I settled greedily back into my novel.
    The voice came again. “I’ve been waiting to get you by yourself,” it said. I turned quickly in the direction from where it came, in the direction of an over-sized chair that my six year old daughter hoarded all to herself when she was in the house. The only thing there was that antique doll that I had bought her for Christmas last year. The doll sat there in her Victorian-era dress of Robin’s Egg blue, her slightly turned. I had bought the doll more for myself than for my daughter. You see, I’ve always hated dolls, I’ve always been terrified of this very thing happening. As a child, I had convinced myself that Dolls and stuffed animals would come alive at night and carry out their own little toy lives, unbeknownst to their hapless humans. I had spent my adult life avoiding all dolls and stuffed animals out of that same fear. I had avoided ever buying a stuffed animal for my child for six long years, though her bedroom was now full of them – most of them gifts from her father, who always laughed at my “irrational fears”, as he called them. “You’re afraid of everything”, he said to me every time I would tell him about another one of my many phobias.
    I had seen the doll in the corner antique shop each time I passed by. Something about it had caught my notice, as it sat in the store-front glass window. I think it was the dress. It could only have been the dress. The dress reminded me of the cover art of a favourite Jane Austen novel, and being a classic literature lover, I wanted to inspect the costume closer. The next time I passed by the Antique store, I made myself go in, and asked if I could see the doll up close. The owner said that the doll had been made in the late 1800’s, but was in excellent condition considering its age. “Do you have kids?” he asked. “A daughter, but she’s only five,” I replied. “I’m sure she would love it,” he said. “It’s been sitting in the back for years, and no one has ever made an attempt to buy it, or even asked to look at it, ‘till today.” As I looked over the doll’s intricately made dress, I thought to myself, “You’re a grown woman, don’t you think it’s time you get over this stupid fear of dolls?” It really was time to get over that fear, so as a challenge to myself, I had bought the doll and taken it home, where it was quickly tucked away in a box on the highest shelf in my closet. “I’ll give it to her at Christmas,” I said to myself. It remained in that box until December came around, when it was neatly gift wrapped and handed to my daughter on Christmas morning. She had kept the doll with her every day since; she ate with it; slept with it, talked to it, and placed it in her favourite chair each time she left the house. The first time I saw her without the doll a few days later, I asked “What did you do with Shelby?” “She said she was tired, Mummy, so I put her to sleep in the bed,” she replied in her six-year old way. “She told you she was tired?” I asked. “Yes, Mummy, she talks to me all the time.” I had dismissed that “She talks to me all the time,” as another one of my daughter’s eccentricities – she had many, and I was sure she had gotten them all from me. “Children talk to their dolls all the time, but the doll can’t talk back; you’re over-reacting as usual,” that’s what my husband had said when I told him about her doll talking back to her. I dismissed it as yet another one of my “irrational fears.”
    “You didn’t believe that I could talk, did you?” She looked directly in my face now as she turned her head slightly to meet my gaze. “I wanted to talk to you since you took me from the store, but you hid me in that dark box for so long. I have so much to tell you” I stared at it in disbelief. I must be losing my mind this time for sure. As much as I always feared a doll talking to me, I never actually expected it to happen. Yet, here I was, staring directly at a doll, who was telling me that she had been waiting to talk to me for months. I lay on the couch, where I had been reading, totally paralysed by dread. I couldn’t feel my legs; all I could feel was the terrible pounding of my heart in my chest. I was speechless, confounded. This had to be a dream! This had to be a figment of my over-active imagination. “I was in the store waiting for you to come and get me; I’ve been waiting for a long time,” she said, her face and eyes lit up as she spoke and took on a perfectly life-like appearance. Her voice was small, calm, and perfectly steady, and she spoke in a very familiar way, as though we were old friends catching up after a long absence. “Who are you?” I asked, my voice cracking as I finally found the strength to speak. I saw her mouth open to begin her reply, and her face assumed its life-like appearance again. Just as she was about to utter whatever her reply would be, I heard my husband’s voice as he entered the living room where I was looked up as he entered the room, and quickly glanced back at the doll, hoping to resume this morbid conversation in the presence of another human being, buy her face had taken back it’s unanimated doll-like features, her eyes no longer alight.
    “You fell asleep reading?” my husband asked, as he looked over to the couch where I lay and saw the open book that had fallen to the floor. “I’ve been trying to reach you on the phone for the past hour and a half, but now I see why you didn’t pick up.” I stared up at him, still stupefied. I glanced from him to the doll and back to him, my mouth slightly open. I knew I hadn’t been sleeping; I wanted to tell him why I had that stupid look on my face; I wanted to tell him about the doll. He would never believe me, of course. He was a practical man. I was the dreamer in this relationship. I was the one who always “over-analysed” everything he said. I knew that I hadn’t fallen asleep; I knew that I didn’t imaging that conversation with this doll, who now sat motionless, and perfectly benign in my daughter’s chair. I would wait until my daughter came home, I was sure she would get this doll to talk again.

  5. kimtblades

    The Living Doll

    She was beautiful, there was no denying that. Soft blonde mohair wig adorned with an ivory ruffled bonnet,

    a dimpled chin accentuating the creamy, lifelike skin. But most of all the large, thickly lashed, cornflower blue

    eyes staring at me with what I can only describe as an expression of fearful anticipation.

    ‘She’s just a doll for heaven’s sake. A pretty, antique French doll.’

    I shook my head with irritation but was unable to take my eyes off her face. Why was I talking to myself?

    ‘My name’s Marie Joubert and I’m from Melun, a village not far from here.’

    I continued to stare at her but now I was gaping. Had she just spoken? My daughter, Lucy, had told me that

    her antique doll could talk but I had dismissed her insistence as childish imagination and wishful thinking.

    ‘Please, you must help me. My father owes a lot of money to M’sier Rouvier. But he does not have nearly

    enough to pay it back, so M’sier Rouvier has demanded that I agree to become his wife and go with him to the

    new colonies in Indo-China.’

    I realised suddenly that I was straining to hear her soft, imploring voice above the loud noises coming from

    outside. I was no longer sitting in the quiet living-room of my house in the sleepy suburb of Redridge.

    Instead I had inexplicably been transported to an elaborate and somewhat over furnished lounge with the noisy

    clattering of cart and carriage wheels, raised French speaking voices and stamping, snorting horses; easily

    penetrating the dusty windows of this street level apartment. An apartment in late eighteenth century

    Paris, for dominating the view across the busy, cobbled street was the sign –

    ‘Madame du Bois, Seamstress, 5675 Rue Lamont, Paris’

    I tore my eyes from the extraordinary street scene and looked straight into the startling blue eyes of the now

    life-size, young French woman standing before me. Like the people in the street outside, she was also

    speaking in French and I understood every word.

    How could this be happening? I was American, living in a rural town in 21st century United States, possessing

    no knowledge of the French language and only a rudimentary knowledge of French history. The exquisite

    antique French doll had been my only child’s twelfth birthday present. Lucy was the student of French

    culture and history.

    Marie placed a warm, shapely hand on my arm. ‘It was Lucy who told me to come to you. She said you

    would understand my predicament and help me. Please, I beg you, I cannot marry M’sier Rouvier. He is fat

    and odious and smells of onions and sour wine and is older, I think, than my father. You must help me.

    I have no one else to turn to!’

  6. kimtblades

    The Living Doll

    She was beautiful, there was no denying that. Soft blonde mohair wig adorned with an ivory ruffled bonnet, dimpled chin accentuating the creamy lifelike skin. But most of all the large, cornflower blue eyes, thickly lashed, staring at me with what I can only describe as an expression of fearful amazement. Her gaze was penetrating, compelling. ‘She’s just a doll for goodness sake. A pretty, late nineteenth century French bisque bebe doll.’ I shook my head with irritation, but was unable to tear my eyes away from her. Why was I talking to myself?

    ‘My name’s Marie Joubert and I’m from Paris.’ I continued to stare at her but now I was gaping. Had she just spoken? My daughter, Lucy, had told me that her antique doll could talk but I had dismissed her insistence as childish imagination and wishful thinking.
    ‘Please, you must help me. My father owes a lot of money to M’sier Rouvier and because he does not have nearly enough to pay it back, M’sier Rouvier has demanded that I agree to become his wife and go with him to the new colonies in Indo China.’
    I realised suddenly that I was straining to hear her soft, imploring voice. I was no longer sitting in my quiet living-room in the sleepy suburb of Redridge. Instead I had inexpicably been transported to an elaborate and somewhat over furnished lounge with the noisy clattering of cart and carriage wheels, raised French speaking voices and stamping and snorting horses, easily penetrating the dusty windows of this street level apartment. An apartment in Paris, for dominating the view across the busy cobbled street was the sign – ‘Madame du Bois, Seamstress Extroidinaire, 5675 Rue Lamont, Paris.’
    I tore my eyes from the extraordinary street scene and looked straight into the startling blue eyes of the now life-size, young French lady, standing before me. She was also speaking in French and I understood every word.
    How could this be happening? I was American, living in a rural country town deep in the South with virtually no knowledge of the French language and only a rudimentary knowledge of French history. The exquisite French antique doll had been my only daughter’s twelfth birthday present. Lucy was the ardent student of French culture and history.
    Marie placed a warm, shapely hand on my arm. ‘It was Lucy who told me to come to you. She said you would understand my predicament and would help me. Please, I beg you, I cannot marry M’sier Rouvier. He is fat and odious and smells of garlic and sour wine and is older, I think, than my father. You must help me. I have no one else to turn to!’ (451 words)

  7. kimtblades

    The Living Doll

    She was beautiful, there was no denying that. Soft blonde mohair wig adorned with an ivory ruffled bonnet, dimpled chin accentuating the creamy lifelike skin. But most of all the large, cornflower blue eyes, thickly lashed, staring at me

    with what I can only describe as an expression of fearful amazement. Her gaze was penetrating, compelling. ‘She’s just a doll for goodness sake. A pretty, late nineteenth century French bisque bebe doll.’ I shook my head with

    irritation, but was unable to tear my eyes away from her. Why was I talking to myself?

    ‘My name’s Marie Joubert and I’m from Paris.’ I continued to stare at her but now I was gaping. Had she just spoken? My daughter, Lucy, had told me that her antique doll could talk but I had dismissed her insistence as childish imagination

    and wishful thinking.

    ‘Please, you must help me. My father owes a lot of money to M’sier Rouvier and because he does not have nearly enough to pay it back, M’sier Rouvier has demanded that I agree to become his wife and go with him to the new colonies in Indo China.’

    I realised suddenly that I was straining to hear her soft, imploring voice. I was no longer sitting in my quiet living-room in the sleepy suburb of Redridge. Instead I had inexpicably been transported to an elaborate and somewhat over

    furnished lounge with the noisy clattering of cart and carriage wheels, raised French speaking voices and stamping and snorting horses, easily penetrating the dusty windows of this street level apartment. An apartment in Paris, for

    dominating the view across the busy cobbled street was the sign – ‘Madame du Bois, Seamstress Extroidinaire, 5675 Rue Lamont, Paris.’

    I tore my eyes from the extraordinary street scene and looked straight into the startling blue eyes of the now life-size, young French lady, standing before me. She was also speaking in French and I understood every word.

    How could this be happening? I was American, living in a rural country town deep in the South with virtually no knowledge of the French language and only a rudimentary knowledge of French history. The exquisite French antique doll

    had been my only daughter’s twelfth birthday present. Lucy was the ardent student of French culture and history.

    Marie placed a warm, shapely hand on my arm. ‘It was Lucy who told me to come to you. She said you would understand my predicament and would help me. Please, I beg you, I cannot marry M’sier Rouvier. He is fat and odious and

    smells of garlic and sour wine and is older, I think, than my father. You must help me. I have no one else to turn to!’ (451 words) Kim

  8. LadyPondofTardis

    (It’s way over the limit but I can’t seem to whittle this one down. Sorry.)

    Elspeth collected rare dolls. It was her one real guilty pleasure. The prize of her collection was a Bebe Phonographe. It was a vaguely hideous thing that had a garish smile on it’s pale bisque face. When she told me how all her dolls talked to her, especially the Bebe Phonographe, I laughed. Dolls don’t talk unbidden. If they do talk at all, it’s a set series of phrases and only if the trigger mechanism is activated. How very wrong I was.

    “You should kill yourself.” The whisper seemed to come from nowhere. The thought too easily resting comfortably with a depression that I’d been fighting for ages. The latest medication that my doctor had me trying did have the side effect of hallucinations but surely that wasn’t what this was. “Come on… you know you want to.” I whipped my head around, searching for the source of the voice. “There’s a bottle of booze in the cabinet. It’s below freezing outside. It won’t hurt a bit. It’ll be just like going to sleep.” Shaking my head, I kept looking for the source. To my surprise, it was from the ugly Bebe Phonographe perched in the place of honor in Elspeth’s display case.

    Surely this was a cruel joke. Someone had found a way to make phonograph cylinders with these horrible things on them and set them to play. The only problem was I was alone in the house. Elspeth had gone to another estate auction to track down a lead on another doll for her already massive collection. Gingerly, I picked up the doll and carefully examined it for any sort of remote sound equipment that might be responsible for what it was telling me. It’s sweet voice was insistent on how very simple it would be to get blindingly drunk and just freeze in the snow. Returning the doll to it’s stand, I backed away from the case and out of the room. This was madness. Someone was playing a very cruel trick and I was having none of it. Closing the door behind me, I went to my office and sought refuge in slaughtering pixels for several hours until Elspeth got home.

    No sooner did she get through the door, I confronted her. “There is something wrong with that damn doll of yours.”

    “What doll?” She asked, confused at my agitated state. “What are you talking about?”

    “The new one. The Baby Phonograph.”

    “You mean the Bebe Phonographe?! What happened? Did it break? Did you break it?” Her voice grew shriller with each question.

    “No. I didn’t break the damn thing but there is something very wrong with it. It was telling me to kill myself. I swear it.”

    Elspeth chuffed a laugh. “Bullshit. You’re hearing things.” Her face turned serious. “Wait, did you call the doctor? He said if you start experiencing hallucinations, you need to call him immediately.”

    It took everything I had not to shake her. “I am not hallucinating. Your damn doll told me to kill myself. It’s lips were even moving.”

    “Bullshit,” she repeated. “If you won’t call the doctor, I will. This is serious.”

    “El! Please! You have to believe me!” It was too late. She was already on the phone, ringing the psychiatrist’s office, speaking to them in hushed tones. She was wrong. I would prove it to her.

    That night, I set up a video camera in the collection room, keeping it trained directly on the damned thing. It changed tactics, demanding I get the switchblade I kept on the bedside table for self defense and deploy the blade right into my heart. “Shut up! I am not suicidal. I am definitely not going to obey some ceramic doll. You know what, keep talking. It’s all on tape. El will believe me when she sees this.” Feeling very satisfied, I shut the door behind me and found my bed.

    The next morning, I begged El to come watch the tape with me. I suspect she was only humoring me when she agreed but at least it was a start. The only problem was when I went to start the file, it was nothing but garbage. The angry look on her face was painful to see. She’d always had the patience of a saint when it came to my illness but somehow, this was a step too far.

    “When I get home, I expect you gone. Blaming my dolls for your problems is a new low, even for you.” The closed look on her face was more painful then the doll’s suggestions for engineering my own demise.

    The house was so quiet that day with her gone. I had one last play. In my reading many years ago, I had come across the concept of dolls being possessed by malicious spirits. If I could exorcise the doll, on tape, Elspeth would have to believe me and let me stay. A few hours of Googling showed me a ritual and it only took me another hour or so of preparation.

    “Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica.” I repeated the words twice more as the ritual I found directed. However, it didn’t exactly have the effect I thought it would. Laughter erupted from the doll.

    “Fool! Did you really think that was going to work?” I blinked. What in the sodding hell? Wasn’t this supposed to cast out the nastiness? I glanced at the words. Maybe I mispronounced them. I took another stab at it. As I did, I realized that my limbs were starting to stiffen. My legs, they didn’t feel like they were could hold my weight. As a wave of dizziness passed over me, threatening to drag me under. I put my hand to my forehead to try to steady myself when I heard a ‘clink.’

    For the second time in as many minutes, the thought of “what the sodding hell” crossed my mind. As I looked at my hand, a scream started to claw it’s way out of my throat. My hand, it was… My God, it was china… How? Nothing was obeying the commands that my brain was furiously sending. My limbs had ceased functioning as yet more Latin spilled it’s way out of my now stiff lips and I collapsed to the floor. No! Dear God, this had to be a nightmare. Please, God help me.

    “Are you praying? That’s so sweet.” The Bebe Phonographe had come into my field of vision. My body was beyond my control, mishmash of glass, bisque, and fabric where there was once flesh and bone. “You’re not the first, you know. Haven’t you noticed how many of Elspeth’s dolls look like people you’ve known? People you’ve met before? That’s because I get lonely. It’s hard being the only intelligent doll in a room full of empty headed beauties. I had to make my own company, a family just for me. You’re the newest member. Don’t cross me and I’ll give you control of your body back. Fight me… Well, you saw what happened to that American Girl doll last year.”

    Elspeth came home that night to a strange sight; her Bebe Phonographe on the floor outside broken circle of salt and a second doll, this one a male with modern clothes and an antique body lying right next to her with a video camera aimed at them. This had to be one last awful cry for help from her troubled boyfriend. She almost fancied she could hear screaming as she set her precious Bebe back in it’s place of honor and placed the new male doll in with the others in her collection. Later, when she tried to watch the footage on the camera, all she saw and heard was static but if she strained her ears just a bit and listened closely, she might have heard a small voice weeping, begging for help that would never come.

  9. NoBlock

    Kris had just got back home after dropping Louisa off at school, now the work began. She had to clean up after the breakfast mess, do a load of laundry and vacuum the house in preparation for the dinner party her husband and she were throwing this evening.

    As she is wiping off the spilled milk from the table where Louisa had eaten this morning, she heard a voice coming from the living room. Must have left the TV on again before I took Louisa to school, she thought. However upon entry to the suite, she realized the television screen was black.

    Kris cocked her sideways in confusion as she started to walk around the house in search of a radio or another television that maybe her husband had left on before going to work this morning. She got halfway down the hallway to the bedroom, when she heard.”Can you please tie my shoe?”, that had definitely come from the living room, Kris noted as goose bumps formed on her arms.

    She dashed to the living room and stopped, no one was here, no television was on, only Louisa’s doll on the couch. “Can you please tie my shoe?”

    “Whoa!” Shouted Kris as she stumbled backward at the realization that the little doll could talk. ” I am losing my mind” she said out loud.

    When her husband returned from work, Kris could not help but tell him about the doll, even knowing the look she would get. “No really, watch!” Begged Kris. “Okay, say something.” She told the doll. No response.

    Her husband really began to grow concerned as Kris started to shake the doll violently and screamed, “Talk damnit, I know you can talk!” As a tear streaked down her face and she continued pleading with the doll, her husband picked up the phone and made a call.

    Half an hour later some doctors in white coats showed up at the house and proceeded to drag Kris out of the house. With her daughter and husband looking on, she screamed and cried, “It can talk, I swear it!”

    The little doll was sitting on the couch watching all of this unfold and said to itself, “No one calls me an ugly little doll.”

  10. Evelynn Blakely

    I walk down the street, hanging my head so that the long strands of brown hair cover my eyes as they flit from window to window, looking. SHE can’t see. If SHE sees, SHE’LL say, “Hurry up, Susan, don’t dawdle Susan…Susan, move along!”
    We are almost to the end of the street when we pass an old book store. Books don’t interest me much, they are too much like a puzzle I can’t solve and give me a headache, but in the corner of the display, almost like it was forgotten, a little doll is resting, arms askew. The doll is looking down the road, behind me, but I know that she has been waiting for me, and I stop and knock on the window and wait until SHE realizes I have fallen behind and comes to my side impatiently. Before SHE can say anything, I point at the doll.
    “I must have it for Katherine.”
    I see the flicker of doubt as SHE listens, but I decided to ignore it and marched into the store because I know, I just know, that my daughter will love to have the doll. Katherine can braid the yellow yarns of hair and tie it up with ribbons and I’ll even make new dresses with some fabric from the shop. Just thinking about it makes me excited, and I find the clerk by a musty pile of ancient manuscripts and tap his shoulder.
    “I would like the doll in the window,” I tell him.
    He just shrugs at me, but obviously he doesn’t know how happy Katherine will be. He wraps it quickly and hands it to me while SHE makes faces behind my head, but I don’t care. I cannot wait to get back and give the little toy to Katherine.
    I practically run home, sighing audibly until the gate is opened and I can hurry down the walk and into the house. I don’t even greet Nancy as she opens the door, like I usually do, but hurry up the stairs and to my room. I open the package and place the doll on the bed. I arrange her dress and straighten her little shoes and as I smooth her hair, the doll’s eyes drift to my face and her tiny stitched mouth parts.
    “We’ll be best friends,” she says. “Me and Katherine.”
    My shocks lasts a moment and then I am thrilled. “You must keep her company and play with her,” I tell the doll.
    The doll’s eyes gleam. “I will.”
    SHE comes in just as I am stepping back, and SHE folds her arms across her chest. “Susan…”
    “She will be the perfect friend for Katherine. She told me so herself.”
    SHE opens her mouth like SHE is going to speak, and glances at the small photograph of a baby and tiny jar beside it on the dresser. Instead, SHE walks over to the window and closes the curtains over the bars and says, “Of course she will, dear. Now rest up.”

  11. lailakuz

    I don’t know about this piece. It’s a little over the world limit. Just experimenting with some new thoughts and styles. I thought it up, incidentally, on a rainy night, waiting in a turning lane.

    House of the Rising Sun
    House of the Rising Sun. The writer in you finds it to be an interesting name, even poetic. Their ‘Come in, We’re Open’ sign, grimed over with filth, sways a little as you turned the doorknob. You think the doll in the window is somewhere between the nastiest or creepiest-looking piece of voodoo filth in New Orleans, but your daughter thinks it’s pretty. And so, like any good mom, you let herself be guided by her sweaty palms into the dingy little shop.
    “Hello?” you call out. A tiny lady, older than the antiques in the shop, answers.
    “Ah! The doll. An interesting choice, my dear,” she tells you, in a quivering voice as spidery hands wrap it up.
    A few hours later, you sit there with your daughter gone off to a friend’s house, facing the tiny typewriter (an antique item you’d bought in hopes of inspiring your writing) but the page remained dry. Nothing. What you imagined would be a time of furious productiveness with the gothic romances flying out faster than you can type just isn’t happening. Your thoughts ran dry as the necklace of little bones you keep around your neck (another bit of antiques you’d bought to “get in the mood”). Finally, exhausted from futile thinking, you resort to a desperate method. The middle-of-nowhere drive. And so you grab your jacket and storm out to the car, thinking of what roads will create the best atmosphere for creativity.
    It’s raining outside and the bright red stoplights pulse instead in a quiet, muted color and the car hums along, movement slicked by the rain and the rain itself patters lightly on your windshield and you stop, your left turn light blinking. You turn on some music and, lo and behold, on comes House of the Rising Sun. And so you turn it down a little, afraid to break the poetic atmosphere you suddenly find yourself surrounded in and, as you listen to the undulating music, begin to hum along. And you lean your head back lightly and stare out of the window and suddenly they’re there. The words have returned. You can see your character, breathtakingly beautiful of course, wan face lit up by candlelight and hear the rustle of her hair and listen to the intrigues pursued in whispers within the dark, looming walls of the gothic castle. And she is singing a high note, a haunting cry torn from the soul, yes, that was it- no, wait, wasn’t that from the movie you’d seen a few days ago?- anyways, and you beg to be at your typewriter now, pounding out the words that smoldered away in your mind.
    “Quite the pretty voice you’ve got there”
    You jump and scream “Who’s there!” but the mocking, girlish voice –quite like you’d imagine one of your gothic ladies’ voices to be- came back again.
    “Look here, on the floor, passenger seat, almost there, aaaalmost there, there you are.” And you find yourself facing your daughter’s stupid voodoo doll.
    “Your voice, I think it’s pretty” and, like the fool you are, you continue conversation with a doll.
    “Of course not,” a mocking giggle. “But you would think that, wouldn’t you?”
    “Dabbling for so long in music. Trying to impress with your screeching harpy-voice. And then your artwork, ha! As though your hyper-conceptualized, eye-achingly colorful designs could have allured anyone.”
    “Shut up! Shut up!” you cry because, deep down, you know it’s all true.
    “And then came the writing. You really think you’re something, don’t you? Quite the artist, eh? With your poetic air and thoughtful glances and writer’s mooments.” She especially stretched those last few words.
    “And you really think you’re going somewhere, that you’re going to write the book of the century everyone’s dying to read. And you think you’re gonna do that with your borrowed plot lines and wanna-be style?”
    “Why you little” and you grab the doll, preparing to bash it into the dashboard only, in the spur of the moment, your foot somehow leaves the break and you roll out into the intersection. And you hear the final, drawled out “And Gooooooooood, I know I’m one.”of the song as the airbag blooms before you and darkness follows.

  12. agnesjack

    A little trifle that I whipped up while waiting for the next prompt. –Nancy

    She was laughing hysterically — stomping her little, perfectly-shaped legs with the permanently-arched high-heeled feet, and bending over at her tiny little waist to try to catch her breath.

    “Stop it, Barbie!” I yelled. “It’s not funny.” I had just split open the back seam of my new jeans while trying to pick up the eight thousand Cheerios that had flown all over the kitchen when I attempted to pull apart the super-glued inner bag that decided to explode instead.

    “You should have seen your face,” Barbie said when she finally settled down.

    “Yeah, well, MY face changes, O.K.? Yours just stays the same with your perfect little mouth and cute little nose and dainty little chin.”

    “I can’t help that,” she said.

    “No. And you don’t age or gain weight, either, which I know you can’t help, but it’s annoying.”

    Just as I said this, I turned on the automatic coffee-grinder and coffee began spewing all over the kitchen because I had forgotten to reinsert the removable plastic container. There’s no off switch, so I panicked until I realized I could just pull the plug.

    “Don’t you dare,” I said with venom when I heard her snort.

    “I got a little coffee on me,” she said.

    “Too bad,” I said as I began sweeping up the coffee.

    “But I can’t bend my arms to wipe it off,” she said.

    “Ha ha,” I said.

    When I finally finished cleaning up the mess and sat down at the table with my coffee and a banana, Barbie got up and walked over.

    “I’m sorry I laughed,” she said.

    “That’s all right,” I said. “It probably was pretty funny.” I looked at her and saw the dusting of coffee particles all over her. She looked kind of pathetic.

    “Here,” I said, and grabbed a sponge to wipe it off.

    “Thank you,” she said.

    “You’re welcome,” I said, and started going through the Sunday paper. “You want to start with the funnies, as usual?”

    “Yup,” she said. Then she added, wryly, “O.K. if I laugh?”

    “Sure,” I said.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Something I’ve been dying to ask, Agnes. Why do girls keep Barbies around with a 40″ bustline, 19″ waist and a perfect derrier?
      Seem like it would be depressing. I enjoyed you little rant in the kitchen. Kerry

  13. rainiemills

    My first writing prompt ever and a little late… please go easy :)

    “Poison burns your insides” Marabelle said staring down at her plate.

    “Where did you hear that?” my heart raced, on full alert. What on earth would make a four year old say a thing like that?

    Glancing uneasily at me, her voice quivered, “Jessica told me.”

    Who the hell is Jessica and what is she doing talking to my daughter about such things? My mind raced through all the people that has had contact with my daughter. Voice steady, gaze strong I bite “Who is Jessica sweetie?”

    “You know mommy, the doll you gave me.” A chill ran down my spine. How can my daughter come up with such a frightening thought.

    “Oh Marabelle, dolls don’t talk, you know that.” My voice a little more stern than intended. Her brows furrowed and the tears started to flow. Are you Jessica? I ask playfully grabbing the doll from the pile of toys littering the floor. “See, if this doll could talk it would tell me its name. Come on, dry your eyes and let’s get ready for bed.”

    I lay awake fiddling with the doll pondering how my four year old could have possibly concocted that story. “She wasn’t kidding, poison really does burn your insides.” What the hell was that. Where did that voice come from. Am I imagining things? I stare at the doll, its black eyes gleaming back at me with. Then I saw it, the lips moved and a voice escaped that frail cloth body and said something to me that saved my life. “Listen to me, you are being poisoned.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Welcome to the forum, rainiemills.

      Aha! Skull-duggery is afoot. A mystery about whon is poisoning who?.[Or is it the other way atround?] A nice, tight story you have here. Leaves all sort of questions for your reader to solve. I like that. A really good opening for a deeper tale. You have a few words left you didn’t use. The story stands on it’s own, however, if you choose to leave as is. Nice job on your first post. Looking forward to your next one.

  14. Marika

    Hello everybody! I’m new here so go easy on me! But of course, please be honest :)

    The Living Doll

    One more glass and I’m done. I stuff the soapy washcloth into the glass and swirl it around. My mind wanders off as I remember what Mia said to me earlier this morning. It’s just a doll. Dolls can’t talk unless they have batteries in them. Obviously that can’t be the case because I got it from an antique store. I turn the knobs on the sink and rinse the suds out of the glass. Then again, there was Chucky. I pause for a moment twisting my mouth to one side as my eyes go another. With a laugh I shake my head and add the glass to the dish rack. I dry my hands on a towel and then hang it back on the refrigerator handle. Finally it’s the last of my household chores until Mia comes home from school.

    I go into my bedroom to do a little browsing online. Before I realize it my fingers have already done a search for the antique shop in my town. After arriving at its web page I began reading on the history of this shop. Interesting. It’s been here for about five years now. Their stock carries antiques from all over. Antiques of all types; furniture, dinnerware, and of course, dolls. I fold one leg into the office chair as I lean in closer to the screen. The latest doll supply was donated by an elderly man who left no name. The shop owners offered to pay him but he wanted nothing. His only request was that they take them off of his hands and forget the exchange ever happened. That’s strange. I lean back in my chair and stretch my arms high over my head. I am so paranoid these days. Actually, that’s the wrong word. I think I’d call it, curious.

    I rise from the chair and walk into my daughter’s room. It’s spotless now because I had just cleaned it a couple hours ago. I look again at the doll I bought for her which was sitting on her bed slouching against the pillows. I approach the bed slowly, giving the doll a good look. It was made of wood, had scraggly red hair and a baby doll dress apparently borrowed from one of Mia’s other dolls. In hindsight it’s not the prettiest doll in the world. What was I thinking when I purchased it? I join it on the bed taking the ugly thing in my hands. I turn it around a couple of times looking it over. Nothing seems out of the ordinary here. I place it back against the pillows and head towards the door. “Can I help you?” A small, squeaky voice suddenly speaks behind me. My lips apart, my breath still, I am frozen in my tracks. Holding onto Mia’s door frame for support I inch my head around and look over my shoulder. Our eyes meet.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Nice entrance to your story. I like the detail of the MC’s life. Her inner thoughts are presented well. The hint of mystery presented by the web site and the man that donated his dolls to the antique story sets the mood nicely.

      Just a small suggestion. If you could somehow manage to put “Can I help you?” after your last sentence, “Our eyes meet.”.. You can substitute a phrase where “Can I help You?” presently is. Try…..

      I hear what sounds like small, squeakly mutterings behind me. My lips apart, my breathe still, I am frozen in my tracks. Holding onto Mia’s door frame for support, I inch my head around and look over my shoulder. Our eyes meet. The doll speaks,

      “Can I help you?”

  15. snuzcook


    “Mommy, why?”

    “Why, what, honey?”

    “Why will you be going away?”

    Surprised, I looked down at my six-year-old’s up-turned face, concern written into every furrow of her little brow. I looked back at my screen. I had just typed the words, “…I have to go away for now…” and her question caught me by surprise. Had I mouthed the words aloud without realizing it?

    “I’m not going away, sweetie. I’m just writing a story.”

    “But Molly says you are. She says you can’t write anymore and you’re going away. Why?”

    I hadn’t noticed Molly, the old-fashioned stuffed elephant mounted on a rolling cart I had given my daughter just last week. It had seemed such a good idea at the time, but Molly soon declined in my estimation as it soared in hers, thumping along behind her, her constant companion.

    “Don’t worry, honey. You and Molly go play in the sunroom.”

    I turned back to the computer. The words on the screen blurred as my eyes filled with tears I had hidden from my daughter. It was uncanny. How could she know what I was writing was to her father? That I was writing the letter, long overdue, that would explain the inexcusable. I was going away. I had lost my pole star, my raison d’etre.

    “Quitter.” It was the nasally, voice of Molly, her trunk raised like an accusing finger. I ignored her and tried
    to compose the next line of the letter.

    “You never did have any talent,” Molly continued. “It was all just a futile exercise, and you know it.”

    I knew she was right. I had simply refused to see it until Molly came into our lives and pointed it out so clearly. Now that the writing prompts had stopped, there simply was no more point. My next letter would be to Brian.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh now Snuz, don’t get upset even if the prompt is late a week. Now on to your story. I liked the flow of it and the description of the MC’s thinking process. None of us think we have any real talent for writing, especially myself but I like to live in a delusional state that some day I will have the ability.

      None of us are quitters, you know. We keeping plugging these stories into Brian, hoping our raw talent will be discovered by someone and the adulations will start to roll in. We want to be recognized like Dolly Levi. [Hello Dolly]

      Even if it never happens, it’s the idea of the dream that keeps us writing. If we don’t have anything to dream for and to look forwad to, there is no life and no tomorrow. So, for myself, I’ll hold my dreams together until the next prompt arrives and splash more words to Reader’s Digest in hope someone out there will let me into the Parade.

      Perhaps I shouldn’t write to the forum in this manner but sometimes I want to pour my soul out and see what others think of their dreams. Kerry

      1. snuzcook

        Kerry, you expressed that wonderfully.

        I think is amazing that as writers we can assign the most profound or subtle nuance of our psyches to an inanimate doll or an MC and let them parade it around. And because they are third-party messengers, our readers can safely allow themselves to be touched by those common sentiments.

        This piece was meant as a fun wink at our late prompt, but (at 5 a.m. my time) it also channeled that place where we all meet our own face reflected in the dark computer screen every day, switch it on and say ‘yes, I’m going to do it again.’

    2. Marc Perry


      I was growing concerned. My wife had always given me a prompt reply … but this week nothing. Last week I received the strangest letter from her. Something about a talking stuffed elephant. But I shrugged it off. I just hoped that she wasn’t still thinking about joining me on my trek across Africa.

      I racked my brain to try and remember the topic of the last e-mail I sent her. Something about a strange encounter I had with a witch-doctor. I had helped the witch-doctor out of a ditch he had fallen into so he offered me three wishes. What were the wishes? Now that is a good question.

      Or maybe she was still thinking about the time her father and I were telling each other our dreams. That was when we realized that we both shared the same recurring dream. We each had our parts in the dream and it led to a startling realization. What was the dream and the realization? That is another good question.

      Perhaps she was just missing me, though. I haven’t talked to her on the phone since my last trip up Mt. Kilimanjaro where I discovered a new type of animal that could talk. What was this animal and what was it saying? Wow! Another good question.

      I decided to write a letter to my wife instead of waiting any longer for her response. Perhaps now she could find her pole star. Her raison d’etre. I just hoped that Brian didn’t get to her first.

      1. snuzcook

        Dear Missus,
        My name is Mr. Nathan Ntabo. Please excuse my forwardness in writing to you.
        I had occasion to speak to your husband, and I have an important message for you.
        Your husband’s power wagon ran my jeep off the road while trying to take photos of giraffe. Before he would tow my jeep out of the ditch, he demanded payment. The only thing I had was an old amulet which belonged to my father-in-law. I am angry with my wife’s father, so I said the amulet was very valuable and had powerful magic. He agreed to accept it as payment.
        I am writing because I believe your husband is crazy. He has been making crazy wishes and telling everyone that he has magic powers. He told my friend that he was sending the amulet to you in the States to help heal you of some illness of the mind or infestation of bad spirits.
        Please forgive me for misleading your husband. I am sorry that the amulet cannot have any power to make you better, or be any protection from talking animals.
        Sincerest wishes for your speedy recovery,
        N. Ntabo

  16. Rose Harper

    you’ll be okay today?” Bryant asks, peering into my face for a moment before glancing down at his cell phone. “I’m not gonna come home and find you passed out, or worse, a few thousand more bucks on the visa?”
    Once he would have asked me these questions with his eyes probing mine, but now, he’s scrolling through his phone, his voice limp and tired. My fingers automatically go to the scar on my forearm, still pink and shiny raw, and massage it absently.
    He spares one last glance to our front porch. “And throw the Jack O’ Lantern away, willya? It’s almost Christmas.” He climbs into his car and pulls away. In the rearview mirror, I see a small smile light his face as he drives away. From me. Happy to be free of me for the next few hours.

    Inside, the kitchen is littered with the detritus of our breakfast. Cereal bowls in the sink, last night’s spaghetti drying on the stove. In the corner stands an antique apothecary cabinet. I cross to it now. A small silver padlock gleams softly in the morning sunshine. I expected this.

    Upstairs in the shadowed hallway, I stumble on an object on the soft pile of the carpet. I pick it up and look at it, it’s a relic from another world. A Kewpie doll from the 1920’s, with a jaunty curl across the porcelain forehead, the big round eyes looking up impishly. I remember buying it for Daisy at the antiques fair, I remember her delight in it and the endless imaginary conversations they would have. That was before things got really bad.

    I throw the doll on my bed and cross to my closet. I paw through the boxes of shoes at the back and find the one I’m looking for. I tip it, and prescription bottles cascade to the floor. My hands are shaking as I select a rainbow handful of pills to make me up, down, calm, happy, gone. I chew them quickly. Twenty minutes later I have gone to that other place. Everything is moving very fast but I am the calm center of all that ever was. Everything is going to be just fine! My husband loves me! He doesn’t blame me for anything! We just need to get away!

    I hop on my laptop and buy us a beach vacation, and a few dozen bikinis for me. I am grinding my teeth and sweating, but I feel great! I dance around the room with no music. I need music.

    “hello my baby hello my darling hello my ragtime gal”
    “hello my baby hello my darling hello my ragtime gal….”
    what sounds like tinny old time singing is coming from the direction of my bed. I glance around dazedly for my cell phone, even though it is obvious where the noise is coming from. The kewpie doll, which had been facedown, was now propped gently against my down pillows. I was vibrating with narcotics and anxiety.

    “hiya kid. nice to meetcha finally. I been watchin’ you for a while now.” Its tone was conversational, even friendly. I had many reasons to doubt my sanity in the past few years, but I had always felt some fragile cord tying me to reality. I felt that cord snap now.

    “Nah. You’re not crazy, kid. It’s that man of yours. Got you all twisted up, doesn’t he? Making you think it’s your fault, what happened to Daisy. And now it’s his reason to screw any broad with two tits and a name.”

    The voice was strangely soothing and hypnotic. I slowly collapsed onto the bed. “What should I do?”

    “The way is see it you got two options. First, you finish that job you started on those wrists. But the way I see it, why let him have all the fun? You won’t be cold before he’s taking out dames on your dime. Or….I could teach you a few things about how you take care of a bad man. But hey, first take a few more of those happy pills and mix us up a couple of drinks, dollface.” The little rosebud lips never moved, but one blue eye batted shut in a wink.

    I stopped in the hall bathroom to splash some cold water on my face. My pupils were as big and shiny and black as buttons. I traipsed down the stairs to the liquor cabinet, Halfway down, I realized I was smiling.

    1. Rose Harper

      As I’m reading through this, I realize I switch from present tense to past tense toward the end. This is my first post on this site, please forgive me grammar police.

    2. snuzcook

      Good catch on the tense switch, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying your story. It draws the reader in to the MC to go along for the ride nicely. The creepy, malevolence of the kewpie doll is a good shudder. Nice ending sentence. I enjoyed it.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        There’s nothing to forgive for, Rose. It’s a wonderfull walk through your story. The emotions of the MC are intense and as real as the sun coming over the horizon every day.

        There are so many bad relationships to survive out there. And a kewpie doll singing ragtime is a wondeful addition to your story. I also loved the last line.

          1. Rose Harper

            Also, I was going for a little foreshadowing with the jack o lantern. Even though I didn’t write the rest of the scene, Bryant is going to have a nasty encounter with that pumpkin later on. (Evil cackling)

  17. run4urlife777

    I lay awake in my bed not able to fall asleep. Why can’t I fall asleep, I asked myself. I knew that I have to get up early tomorrow morning because I promised my friend that I would help her with her homework. Suddenly thoughts of “the monster hiding under my bed” started to come to me. I know I’m in high school and these things are childish but some nights, I just can’t help it. I tried to stop myself from thinking about the creatures but things just got worse. My whole brain was flooded with these thoughts. I decided to turn around; this usually helped me think about different things. As I was turning I caught a glimpse of something white sitting on my desk. The shape resembled that of a doll’s. Why would there be a doll in my room? Even my little sister, Anna, who’s ten, suddenly stopped playing with dolls a few years ago. I thought it was probably just my imagination.
    A memory of her playing with her dolls came to me. She would put them around her table and have a pretend tea party. It was cute up until the point my Grandma bought her beautiful white porcelain doll. That thing gave me the chills; its eyes seemed to follow me everywhere. Anna would take that doll with her everywhere even to her kindergarten class. Things got weird when my mom once saw Anna just sitting in her room all by herself engaged in a deep conversation. My mom asked Anna who she was talking to and all she responded “My friend mommy, the doll. It talks to me. I can hear its voice in my head. It says you can’t hear it because you are not special”. Then she turned around and started speaking to it again. This went on for a few days; someone would ask who she was talking to and she would reply in the same way. Soon Anna’s teachers started to call home; complaining about Anna’s bad behavior. Her actions came as a shock to our family and her teachers because Anna was normally a very sweet and nice kid. When my mom and dad confronted her and requested that she tell them why she was behaving this way, all she said was “it told me to do it”. My dad was confused but my mom instantly knew that Anna was talking about the doll. Mom stood up and went to Anna’s room grabbed the doll and threw in onto the ground shattering into millions of tiny pieces. For two or three days after that incident Anna claimed that she could still hear the doll speak to her but eventually she stopped speaking of the voice.
    “Ugh, why am I thinking of this now? Now I’ll never be able to fall asleep,” I said out loud to no one in particular.
    “Shhh.” I hear a silky whisper in the dark coming from the other side of the room.
    I slowly turned around and there it was on my desk. Its cold, dead, blue eyes staring at me. Its porcelain white skin shining in the darkness. Its rosy red lips gleaming. The doll.

    1. snuzcook

      Good story concept, Run4urlife777. I would like to see a little more ‘show’ than ‘tell’ to unfold the story. As this was largely expository, I found I was less engaged with it than I might have been. I look forward to your next posting!

    2. Marika

      Good story! I like how you gave us a detailed background of the doll first before revealing it. It could also explain why the main character has a fear of “monsters hiding under his bed.”

  18. Mardymar

    It sits sweetly on my pillow. So innocent, so pure. Yet I’m afraid. Why am I so afraid. My hands are trembling as I reach to pick up the doll.
    My mother used to say that if James Dean’s looks and Dick Van Dyke’s personality were mashed together in a large pot and boiled over the fire for twenty minutes, my father would jump right out of that stew and honk my nose. I can almost hear her saying, “Well … it’s true”, in her most insistent tone. But that was her memory. Mine are just the memories of a little girl. The memories of the great big hugs we would give each other when he came home for a visit. The memories of the songs he would sing to me as I was falling asleep.
    My hand wraps itself around the chest of the doll. I can feel the voice box inside, where the heart should be.
    I can still remember the day that my father died. Those nice old men in the uniforms came to our door. ‘Friendly fire’ they had called it. I don’t see what was so friendly about it. My mother, bless her soul, was so distraught that she locked all his things in the attic. No one had opened that room since. Not until my daughter decided to make the trip to her nana’s old home.
    I look more closely at the doll as I lift it. The clothing is only halfway stitched and the face is missing. Perhaps just a few days more, and my father could have finished his work.
    My heart raced during the long ride home from my daughter’s antique store. She had asked me to meet her there. She had found something for me. A surprise. What a surprise. It was unfinished, she had said, but it’s voice still worked.
    I turn the doll over and gently pull the string attached to it’s back. The voice box begins to crackle then I hear a voice and I begin to weep. My father sings to me:
    “I’ll be loving you, always …”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Very touching story, Mardymar. Well written with a lot of emotion. If this is your first post, it helps if you double space between paragraphs when you post. A little easier to read. The posting box has it’s own quirks. Welcome to the forum.

  19. Mardymar

    My mother used to say that if James Dean’s looks and Dick Van Dyke’s personality were mashed together in a large pot and boiled over the fire for twenty minutes, my father would jump right out of that stew and honk my nose. I can almost hear her saying, “Well … it’s true”, in her most insistent tone. But that was her memory. Mine are just the memories of a little girl. The memories of the great big hugs we would give each other when he came home for a visit. The memories of the songs he would sing to me as I was falling asleep.
    My hand wraps itself around the chest of the doll. I can feel the voice box inside, where the heart should be.
    I can still remember the day that my father died. Those nice old men in the uniforms came to our door. ‘Friendly fire’ they had called it. I don’t see what was so friendly about it. My mother, bless her soul, was so distraught that she locked all his things in the attic. No one had opened that room since. Not until my daughter decided to make the trip to her nana’s old home.
    I look more closely at the doll as I lift it. The clothing is only halfway stitched and the face is missing. Perhaps just a few days more, and my father could have finished his work.
    My heart raced during the long ride home from my daughter’s antique store. She had asked me to meet her there. She had found something for me. A surprise. What a surprise. It was unfinished, she had said, but it’s voice still worked.
    I turn the doll over and gently pull the string attached to it’s back. The voice box begins to crackle then I hear a voice and I begin to weep. My father sings to me:
    “I’ll be loving you, always …”

  20. PricillaK

    I lay in my bed, unable to shake the feeling that I was alone. Downstairs, my husband and daughter watched their favorite TV shows, a daily ritual before my daughter had to go to bed. I had an early appointment the next morning so I chose to go to bed early.

    Suddenly the room got colder and I pulled the covers closer to my chin.

    “Hank!” I cried. “Can you please turn the heater up?” It was a chilly Detroit afternoon and it was very unusual that Hank would have turned the heater off.

    No reply. He probably couldn’t hear me over the television set.

    I lay in bed debating whether I should get up and take the long walk to the heater when I got the feeling that I wasn’t alone in the room anymore. I got up and looked around me.

    From across the room my daughter’s doll Agatha stared at me intently, her porcelain skin and delicate features stood out vastly in the semi dark room. How did she get in the room? We had tossed her out when Carissa started mumbling that Agatha was talking to her. Without realizing it I locked eyes with her and in the instant that I did, she stood up.

    “Shhhh.” She whispered to me, her blood red lips turning into an upward smile.

    I was frozen in terror, unable to move and unable to look away from her ice blue eyes. Her head tilted and her smile became clown-like as she started walking towards me. I managed to tear myself away from the bed and scrambled downstairs to the living room where my husband and daughter were. As I entered the room, I found it empty, the TV playing infomercials.

    “Hank! Carissa!” I cried intently, racing room-to-room where only darkness hid. Each room was empty; there was no sign of my family. There was only one room left.

    The basement.

    I mustered up whatever courage I could and raced down the stairs. As I reached closer to the bottom of the staircase, I heard the familiar voices of my husband and daughter. I breathed a sigh of relief that they were safe.

    I slammed open the door.

    “Hank! Carissa!” I cried happily.

    The smile dropped from my face and I watched in sheer horror as Agatha painted a clown like smile on my daughter’s porcelain face.

  21. Kylero

    Under the scrutiny of silence, the subtle clinking of ice against it’s glass container screams over the creaking of the rocking chair. Painting over such a beautiful piece of work should be a crime, but it’s what Lizzie wanted, I think to myself as an index finger scratches a piece of white paint off the arm rest and flicks the remnants out from under the finger nail onto the floor. I’d imagine a pile of paint chips littering the floor beside the chair if I cared, but how can I? With that thing staring at me. Always watching. Whenever it enters my room, it’s eyes glue onto mine. Judging me as if I’d done something to it.

    I mean, believe me I would, but Lizzie loved it. Was always around it. Cared for it more than anything else.

    I could never do anything to it.

    But I want to. I want to take those demeaning eyes and rip them from their sockets. Pulling it’s strung-out hair from atop it’s head and slicing through it’s flesh, pealing away it’s judging scalp to show it how much I hurt. To teach it a lesson. That’s what it deserves. To be punished.

    The clinking stops, leaving only the creaking of the rocking chair to sift through, cutting the oppressive, suffocating, musty air. Chomping down on its lower lip, it raises its arm and frivolously scratches at the unshaven shadow deluging his face while he continues to stare. Always staring. Raising its glass erupting pings of ice, it takes a sip, leaving the glass at its lips for a second, before lowering back down to rest on the chair’s arm.

    “It’s all your fault,” It says. Its malefic brow clenched above its beady, leering brown eyes. Its arm raises, tipping the rest of the liquor into its mouth. Its eyes close, clenching it’s brow tighter to help lead the liquor down. I can hear a subtle sigh as its eyes open, returning it’s glare back to mine. Lowering it’s arm, it drops the glass on the table beside the rocking chair. Putting both hands on it’s thighs, rocking forward, it stands and walks over to my corner; staring.

    “You did it.”

    It’s wrist twists.

    “You drove my wife crazy.”

    Each finger stretches out, flexing.

    “You killed my little girl.”

    That’s when it lunged at me, it’s arms outstretched. It’s hands grasping at me as I lie leaning against the wall atop my dresser, sneering, always sneering, until I slip down, sliding along the dresser top, flipping over and pushing and thrusting myself off, latching onto the judge’s neck. It wraps it’s hands around me, uselessly squeezing my porcelain frame as I cling onto it, crushing its larynx until it stumbles down to a knee.

    “You’re so weak,” I whisper into it’s fleshy ear, sneering as it’s fingers futilely looking for a way in between it’s neck and my fingers.

    “You’re all just so weak.”

  22. Mogs

    Pale, wide-eyed and smiling, it gazed at me from the corner of the room. It’s straw yellow hair bunched pleasantly into pig tails. But there was nothing pleasant about it. It was not even graced with a gender or the name ‘Gracie’ as my daughter Cleo had lovingly named it. Not to me.
    It giggled, but this time I did not wince. My knuckles were white with tension as I almost tore the cloth of the armchair apart. My knees were tight against my chest as I crushed my body against the back of the chair, so desperate to slip through it away from the doll. But instead, it was getting closer. It was not moving. But it was closer. Every second signified an inch. Every minute a foot.

    “Get away from me” I blurted out, but my voice shook.

    There was a soft giggle from it’s corner. The whole room was a basic green, the bed pushed against the wall and those god forsaken bars on the window. How had it gotten in? How had it come back? I glanced pleadingly at the door but it was jammed shut, slid across the peep hole. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach at the thought of looking back.
    Inhaling till my ribs could spread no further, I twisted my head back around only to find it staring me straight in the face with those blank, black holes of eyes. The grin was larger now on her round face, more menacing as her small porcelain hands reached out to me.

    “Its what Cleo wanted, its what Cleo needed” it sang to me like a child uttering a nursery rhyme, “Night night mummy”

  23. frankd1100

    The sky was drinking water blue on Sunday as we walked to church from our beach house. After Mass we strolled into the village, Cassie between us holding our hands, conversing with Barbara in a way she never would with me.

    We had breakfast at ‘Sola’s Soda Fountain.’ Cassie sat on one of the red cushioned stools lining the counter and ordered chocolate chip pancakes smothered in maple syrup.

    “Barbara, do you and Cassie mind if I run a quick errand?”

    “Of course I don’t mind, Brian,” she said pulling Cassie closer. “I get to spend some alone time with my little girl!”

    Cassie looked up searching our faces for the subtle signals children sift out of parental interaction.

    “Where are you going, Dad,” she asked, her little face frowning up at me?

    “I have to check in with Sajid,” I said. “I’ll catch up with you on the pier.”

    Barbara turned to me and said, “Brian I hope you’re not buying something for me.”

    “Hope springs eternal,” I said and turned toward the alley and Sajid’s antique shop.”

    Sajid placed the ring on the counter, a perfect emerald set in a simple 18 carat gold band. Anticipating Barbara’s excited reaction I turned to leave but stopped before a strangely attractive doll on a shelf by the exit.

    Ten minutes later I met my girls with a small box for Barbara and a large box for Cassie. Barbara was pleased but not close to being as stunned as Cassie was with her new doll.

    Later, with Cassie tucked in for the night, Barbara was on her way out to meet friends. “I thought you’d be showing off your ring tonight,” I said.

    “I’d rather not risk losing it,” she said and looked away.


    I put the book down and stood in the dark silence of Barbara’s absence, then crossed to the bar for a tumbler of straight up bourbon.

    “Too bad about your marriage,” said a wizened voice from the shadows. Wild Turkey splashed over my hand as I spun to face the intruder.

    The doll’s living eyes followed me across the room and it’s tiny lips moved as it said, “Cassie will be hurt but children are resilient.”

    “My marriage will be fine,” I said, shocked to find myself speaking to a doll.

    “Come on, Brian. She couldn’t wait to get away from you tonight. If you believe she’s out with the girls you’re a fool.”

    “I believe you’re out of line.”

    The doll asked, “Do you know Billy Lonergan?”

    “I know him.”

    “Sorry Brian but Barbara and Billy have been in an ongoing affair since April.”

    “I know,” I said.

    “That’s absurd! Billy’s been banging her like a drum for months and that’s okay? What kind of man are you?”

    “The kind that betrayed and humiliated his wife. The kind that hopes he can be forgiven to keep his family together.”

    Following an extended pause the doll said, “Hmmm… Now don’t I feel like the dummy.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      ‘Turn around is fair play’, they all think. However, it never works that way. A nice story Frank. I enjoyed the description of the soda fountain and the inner action between your characters. A good way to end the story. Let the reader figure how the marriage crumbled. From the conversation, I take that Cassie already knows about her father but perhaps doesn’t realize her mother is doing fair play.

  24. gaia1

    “Maybe Ceila is right” she thought “Maybe the doll is … alive or something”. She was sitting in front of her computer screen, trying to finish some chapter in her novel . Instead she spent the last ten minutes staring at the new , antique doll she gave to her daughter for her nineth birthday. The toy was a nice addition in their family , some odd form of the missing parent , Ceila’s dad, until Ceila mentioned its ability to communicate. Ceila would sit after finishing her homework , narrate the stories her beloved toy told her. Or so the child claimed _that the doll told these stories. Her mother doubted that. And she was surely freaking out , each day more.
    She stood up, postponing her work again. She took the doll in her hands. It was beautiful apart from her lips from which the paint had faded and her dress which was teared apart here and there. Her hair dark and long , the eyes green as envy , defined by thick eyelashes.She headed towards the kitchen. She had decided to throw the doll in trash “I will tell Ceila I gave it for charity.”
    “Always the same story…”. She stood frozen with her one foot in front of the other , eyes widened. She was sure she heard a high-pitched voice. “Always the same story…”. There it was again. She turned around in a moment of panic. “Who’s there?” she asked, trying to make herself sound normal. “I’m in your arms “.the voice answered. She lifted the doll “I pity you. All of you adults. This is coming out of the doll? She wondered in disbelief. She could utter nothing. “You lose all the magic and innocence you too possessed as children. You remember the most insignificant things from your childhood, locking the meaningful ones somewhere your consciousness can’t reach. Then you end up thinking all these things are just childern’s imagination “.She was confused. She could say nothing more than “W-What things?” “the soul that is contained in every single object and creature. Grown- ups can’t see the story behind things, their past , their future or even their present.”
    She started walking again towards the rocking chair the doll was previously resting. She placed it there, sat in her own chair and said “teach me how to see the magic “

  25. Stormsent

    He stooped, balancing on one knee. Watching her face; looking into her eyes. She stared through his. Simultaneously removing his hat and pulling out a handkerchief; he wiped his forehead and inside his fedora. It wasn’t hot.

    “Sweetie, my name is Detective Warren, I mean Mr. Warren. I’m a detective. Do you know what that is?”, he was getting ready to pry open a 7 year old’s memory. He wasn’t comfortable and stood up. Looking around he called out, “ Female officer! We got any females in the field?” It was a ruse.

    All around them, chaos. They were still, in a blurred world. He reached for her hand. She clutched her doll. He didn’t know if she would scream or not. He saw her parents talking with a local officer while leading her to his car. He did not drive them to the department.

    He pulled in an alley, behind a tall building, out of the calamity. The engine was shoved into park and turned off. Sliding from behind the steering wheel he leaned against the inside passenger door. His feet propped on the hump in the floor. She looked out the window, tightly hugging her doll.

    “ You know, I have a little girl about your age. Maybe you’d like to play with her one day. How ‘bout you tell me your name, so I can tell her you wanna play.”

    Pursing her lips, eyes narrowed, she brought her stare to his eyes. She began to whisper in her doll’s ear. Moments passed.

    “Okay, so you don’t want to talk to me. I understand. Tell me your doll’s name and I’ll ask her the questions. We can let her …”

    She wasn’t listening. She grabbed the car’s door handle, opened it, jumped out and ran.

    Many years later…

    “Mommy? Is that your doll?”, she pointed to the top shelf.

    “No honey, it isn’t. That’s your grandmother’s doll.”

    “Can I play with her?”

    “I’m sorry, Brit. She’s a very special doll. Grandmother was given that doll when she about your age. She wants her to stay special and even she doesn’t take her off that shelf.”

    “But why Mommy, she’s such a..”

    “Time for you to get the bus.Grab your backpack and scoot.”

    She brought the step stool over to the bookshelf, barely able to reach the doll.

    “Just what IS so special about you.” Holding her gently she saw she wasn’t dusty. “I guess Mom does take you down once in a while for a spiffing up. She’s headed for a fall keeping you up there. I’ll have a talk with her.”

    Sitting on the couch, she was reading. A rustling. Another. Behind her. Barely audible, a voice…

    “ He was waving, at us. Her pink hat matched her clothes and she had red roses. Everybody was cheering. We saw him, he had a gun. Two men ran out of the building…”

    1. agnesjack

      Very timely story, stormsent. I am old enough to remember that horrible day fifty years ago. They sent us home from school with no explanation, and as we passed one of the classrooms, I remember seeing the third grade teacher sobbing at her desk. It’s an image I’ll never forget.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      I liked your story. Descriptions of the trauma at the triple underpass in Dallas on that fateful day 50 years ago , was portrayed realistictly and powerful. Perhaps some day, the real truth will come out . You left the reader to decide. . .

  26. Toria

    “Well, shit.”

    There it stood. All 12 inches tall of it with its porcelain skin, blonde curly hair, and rose speckled dress. And it was fucking talking.

    Abby had said it talked but of course you don’t believe an 8 year old girl when she says her new doll talks. A lot of things talk to an 8 year old girl…imaginary friends…the cat.

    “Hello” it spoke again.

    I just stared at it, not ready to acknowledge that an over-priced antique was talking to me in my kitchen.

    “Will you play with me?”

    “Oh hell no!” I said out loud. This was not turning into some Stephen King horror movie shit.

    Being a young single mom, I did not have time for this. What I had time for was vacuuming the living room before my daughter got home and expected an after school snack. What I had time for was my 10 page paper due in school the next day. What I did NOT have time for was this bloody doll staring me down in my own house.

    I walked over and grabbed the doll by its curls. “Ow! You’re hurting me.”

    “Sorry dolly.” I said, completely and utterly not sorry. I set it on the counter and looked it dead in the eye. “What do you want? Spit it out now because I’m pretty sure I’m going to smash you into pieces, burn them, then bury the ash in the back yard.”

    The doll starred unable to blink with its painted on eyes. “Won’t you play with me?”


    “I want you to play with me!” It nearly screamed through its permanently pursed mouth. Then, straight out of a nightmare, it started to cackle.

    “Sorry dolly. Time for plan A.” On a daily basis I fought bill collectors, a shitty ex-husband, and a stubborn 8 year old. I was not fighting with a doll.

    That night Melanie sat down to watch the 9 pm news.

    “In a strange turn of events today, it appears a number of antique dolls have come to life! Here we have an eye witness capturing the strange occurrence on their phone”

    The news switched to a clip of two dolls stiffly walking down a hallway. You could hear them saying “play with me! Play with me!”

    “This just in! Apparently at least one doll as turned violent! We have a clip of a 911 call made not even an hour ago…”

    “Help! Please help! It has a knife! I don’t even know how!”
    “Ma’am, I need you to calm down. What is your address?”
    “1543 Maple Lane”
    “Ma’am, who has a knife?”
    “The doll! Annie’s doll!”
    “A doll has the knife?”

    The call cut out clearly leaving off the scream that bursting from the caller’s lips.

    Melanie turned and looked out the window at the fresh pile of dirt in her yard and smiled.

    “Sorry dolly. Not in my house.”

  27. Svapne

    Her porcelain face and crocheted dress remind me of Nanny. She used to make dolls, long ago. Then she started just collecting them. They were so much a part of her life that everyone called her Dolly, from her husband to her sister to her friends. I grew up with her, surrounded by her dolls, and I’m getting so sentimental that I’m about to start crying right there in the antiques store. But that’s nothing new; I cry all the time lately. And then that red haired doll with the peridot green dress, just like her old ring, pops into my head. It was meant to be a Christmas gift, but she didn’t live long enough to get it. We still unpack it, every year, and fuss over it just the way she would have. I still set up her nativity just the way she did, painstakingly thorough. And there it is; I can’t hold back the fountain and I start bawling. The nice old lady that works there comes to see if I’m alright. I smile and say yes, and that the doll is beautiful and I’ll take her.

    We get back home and I bring her to her new room. I set her on a shelf and stare for a while.

    I wonder what kind of story this Dolly would tell. I wonder if she was lovingly made by steady hands and passed on to the next generation. I wonder if she was forgotten and put in an attic. I know there are people out there that just aren’t sentimental, and would sell her away for a quick buck. I know there are unfortunate cases where family heirlooms are sold just so someone can eat.

    However she got here, I feel like it’s a sad story. I don’t like sad stories.

    I take her off the nursery shelf and hold her close to the bump that’s been steadily growing over the last seven months, where my abs used to be. “Whatever your story was, Dolly, it’s time to make a new one.”

    For Nanny, with love.

  28. swatchcat

    Venus (Mother) Return To Me

    Sarah had grown up trekking across Europe and Asia with her grandfather, playing in the dust and sand of ancient burial sites, spelunking caves and playing hide and seek in the basements of famous museums worldwide. She had not grown up like normal children playing with Barbie or Chrissie; instead she made do with the artifacts from archeological digs.

    Now, several years later, and following in her grandfather’s footsteps, she trekked through Portobello Road Market in search of old finds. Saturday was antique day.

    “Ay! What you reckon’ for this little bobble,” Sarah yelled from the street table.

    “Read the sign Love.” A voice yelped from the dark shop.

    “Here then, two bits.” Sarah waved her pretzel in the air.

    “In the jar, read to sign,” the voice replied agitated.

    Sarah clanked two coins into a jar reading “Pay Here,” and took an aged stick pin. She liked old things.

    She had a feeling she would get lucky. Today she would fine something different something that would put all other finds in her collection to shame. She walked past these shops multiple times but, she halted and starred in a window.

    “Hay! Watch it, would’ya,” another Picker slammed into her and sloshed his coffee.

    “Sorry.” Sarah half paid notice to the man, it was the figurine snuggled in-between an elephant tusk, fake-she thought to herself. The doll was the right material and right dimensions. Venus of Willendorf, a mother doll.

    She had played with so many growing up. Odd children play with odd things. Sarah’s was a Mother doll. An ancient stone Buddha like figurine of a tubby, large breasted nude woman. Sarah never cared what Archeologist suspected was a fertility goddess or some sort of priestess idle. All she cared about was that every one she helped find and eventually couldn’t keep was her trusted companion growing up. They talked about most anything, and now she had one to keep. She couldn’t wait to get back to the flat and show her daughter Sarah2.

    As she made her way through the Tubes and back home, she held the doll in-between her hands feeling the limestone curves. It soothed like a pacifier. She caressed the lumpy breasts and heavy curves of the hips. She walked home in a daze and placed it on the entry table.

    For days, Sarah2 said the Willendorf spoke to her. Her mom didn’t think anything about it. Of course it spoke to her daughter; imaginary friends were okay, right? Shortly afterward her daughter gave it back and wanted nothing else to do with it. Sarah, on the other hand carried it everywhere she went.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Loved the dialogue. And the setting of the antique market. Thought I was there for a moment shopping along side of Sarah. So much mystery and unspoken thoughts. And so many ideas popped into my head about the significiance of the mother doll. Wondered why Sarah2 rejected it?

      I’ll make up my own answers to your story. Such a fun read, swatchkat.

  29. adriannelaray

    You ever get that feeling that you’re being watched? Well I’ve had that feeling every day since my daughter brought that doll home. I swear those glass eyes are following me everywhere. And my daughter says it can talk? Well wouldn’t that be something. I picked up the doll from the floor and looked at it. The pale almost white skin underneath its coat of gloss made her look kind of ghostly to me. That and her pale blonde hair and grey eyes. Eyes which I could swear were looking back at me.

    “My daughter thinks you can talk. Can you talk?” Look at me, talking to a doll. I must be losing it.

    “Yes. I can talk. But only to the right people,” the doll replied.

    I would have dropped her on the ground but my hand only clenched tighter around her. The right people?” Who are the right people? What does that mean?”

    “The people with the blood. You do know who you are, right?” Her eyes started to glow, or maybe that was my imagination. But I did feel more than ever the weight of her gaze.

    “I know who I am. But who are you? And why can you talk? What is going on here?”

    “I am Dynia. And we are overdue for this meeting. You are well past 14 seasons and you don’t know who you are. You can put me down now. I can walk.”

    I put her down and I watched her climb onto the couch. I swear there were ants crawling all over my hands. My grandmother had a cat named Dynia. And she would tell me bedtime stories about a magical cat named Dynia that looked just like hers. I miss Grandma Miriam, I could use a hug right now.

    “Miriam shouldn’t have passed so soon, Hirshal shouldn’t have kept you from us. You should know who you are. You should know who I am.” Dynia began to undress on my couch. What the hell is going on? I watched her skin become less glossy and start to look more like actual skin before she started growing hair all over. Dark orange hair, all over the place, and whiskers. She was growing whiskers. Her fingers shortened as the nails reformed into claws. Her feet were also undergoing a transformation and her legs. She completed her transformation and sat up and stared at me.

    “How do you know Miriam? And why do you look like her cat? Wait, can you still talk now that you’re a cat?”

    “Yes, and you know in your heart that I am Miriam’s Dynia. I will be yours as well.”

    Can cats smile? I think she smiled at me. And there was something about the way she said that that made my stomach turn.


    Sandy looked at the doll. It was a cute little gnome. It needed a good washing and from the look of the joints, a good oiling. It was made of some hard substance. It could have been rock or ceramic or something else. It would be a fine addition to the Christmas scene around the tree. Her daughter would love it.

    She asked the clerk the price on the little gnome doll. With a puzzled look she said, “What doll?”
    Sandy showed her. “How much for him?’

    “I’ve never notice him, before.” She picked up the doll and turned it over, looking for a price. “It’s unmarked. How about twenty dollars?”

    “I’ll give you ten.”
    “I’ll split the difference at fifteen.”

    “Deal.” Sandy paid the clerk and carried out the doll, happy with herself. She was adjusting to life on her own. She could do this.

    On her way home, she picked up her daughter at the Santa’s Day Care. Little Chrissy sat in her car seat jabbering away. As they pulled into the driveway, Chrissy said, “Mommy, dolly talk at me.”

    Sandy was not really listening. She was thinking of the past year. About Don. He wanted to marry her. But she didn’t want to force him. Maybe they’d talk after things slowed down after Christmas. He was too busy with deliveries.

    Sandy missed the Christmas cheer of her family, since she had moved out on her own. This little doll drew her back to those happy times. This time of year was the best. Lots of things to do and to make. Lots of friends around her parents home. She could do this.

    She carried it into the kitchen, to the sink and began to wash. She started on the clothes and then as she began removing them.

    “Hey! Hey! What you think you’re doing?” The gnome began to squirm. He could not stay still any longer. “That is quite enough. I can handle the rest just fine. Thank you, very much.”

    “Well, hello there. Are you supposed to speak to me?” Sandy seemed to take the animation of the doll in stride. Like it happened every day. “What is your name, little sir?”

    “What would you like to call me?”
    “How about Rosemary?” she said with a hidden smile.
    “Gad. No. No. My name is Alvie. Okay?”
    “Alvie it is. Why have you come to my apartment? Did my father send you?”

    The doll got very agitated. He said, “Why would you ask that? I never said anything about your father.”

    “So he did send you,” Sandy said. “He doesn’t think I can take care of myself. You can just go back and tell him I’m doing great by myself.”

    “No, please I can’t go back. I’ll get into trouble. He won’t like it if I don’t stay here.” Alvie gave Sandy with a pitiful, pitiful look. “Please, I’ll do anything if you let me stay.”

    Sandy tried to maintain the stern look on her face, but she finally gave in and smiled at Alvie. “Okay, you can stay, but tell me how has everything been, back at the North Pole, since I left?”

  31. asoden

    I kiss Gracelynn on her forehead and watch as her little hand slips out of mine and she runs up to the big yellow school bus. It’s her first day of Kindergarten. Hard to believe she’s growing up so quickly. She walks up the stairs, and finds her seat beside her best friend, the doors close, and off she goes. Time sure does fly. I wave one last wave and blow a kiss as I turn to head back in the house where piles of already sorted laundry await me. I wipe the tears from my eyes as I walk in and close the door behind me I stop and listen. I hear the faintest sound of whimpering. I peek into the family room to my right and the sound gets just a bit louder. It seems to be coming from the front bay window which overlooks the front yard where I just left Gracelynn. I look on the sofa, there’s nothing there. So I pull back the sheer curtain from the window and there sits Gracie’s new old doll, with her face in her hands. Could this be where the whimpering has been coming from? Has Gracie been telling the truth about this doll? Can she truly talk?! The doll looks up at me as the curtain is pulled back from behind her and simply says, “Is she gone forever?”. I lean forward and gently pick her up and hold her out in front of me. Although I am surprised, and perhaps a bit terrified, I look that sweet doll in the eyes and say, “She’ll be back. Don’t worry sweet girl, she’ll be back soon.”

    1. don potter

      The doll and the mother’s pain was shared, so their sorrow was half as harsh. Just think how great their combined joy will be when Gracelynn comes home after school

  32. joecover

    “Nice place you got here.”
    I looked up from my computer and spun around in the chair. There was nobody there. But I had clearly heard a voice.
    “I said, I like your place. It’s a little old, and in need of a good dusting, but it’s comfortable.”
    The voice was coming from a Cabbage Patch doll that was sitting in the brown recliner where my daughter, Jennie, had been playing with it before pre-school. Jennie told me the doll talked, but you know how a five-year-old imagination works.
    I rolled my computer-chair over to the doll. “Well, look at that. I didn’t know you guys had voice boxes.” I picked her up and began to examine her for a pull-string. I squeezed her body trying to feel for the square plastic voice box used in dolls. I found nothing. Not even a Velcro flap used to access the box to replace the battery.
    “Now that is strange,” I mused tossing the doll back on the recliner.
    “Satisfied? Had fun pawing me? Convinced your daughter isn’t a liar?”
    “Look, I don’t know who is doing this, or how you are doing this, but it better stop.”
    “You adults are all alike. That’s why we don’t generally talk to you, but I was disgusted by the way you pandered to Jennie when she told you I could talk. Telling her that she was sweet and how cute she was claiming her doll could talk. Well look at me buddy, I’m a talking.”
    “Your lips don’t move.” By this time I was carefully scanning the room looking for a hidden camera or speaker. “This you Alice? Honey, you playing a trick on me?” I knew she was at work, but if not my wife, then who could it be?
    “What lips? These things are just puckers of cloth. Trust me buddy, I’m talking to you and I’m telling you that Jennie would rather have Star War’s Lego’s than another doll. You don’t know anything at all about your daughter.”
    “And you do?”
    “She talks to me.”
    “She talks to me, and I’m her daddy. And you’re going back to the antique store.” I picked the doll up and started towards Jennie’s room to get the box and adoption papers.
    “Hey pal. Listen up. I’ll make you a deal. You let me stay here and I’ll let you in on everything your daughter says. Just don’t put me back in that stupid box.”
    I paused and pondered it for a minute before laying out my deal. “You say she wants Star War’s Legos. I’m going to Walmart and get a set. If she loves it, you stay. If she doesn’t, then it is back in the box and to the nearest flea market.”
    That afternoon Jennie came home to find her new Legos. She beamed at me, gave me a hug, and stated, “Just what I really wanted.”
    I could swear that Cabbage Patch doll winked at me, but I know a doll can’t wink.

    1. don potter

      I liked how the doll dismissed or rationalized his lack of lips and moved ahead undaunted. If Daddy isn’t careful, the doll will take control of the family. Good tale.

  33. go4jayoh

    The Living Doll

    “Hey bub, Can I bum a cigarrete?”
    The doll was no longer an inanimate object. It was moving towards me. I must have been hallucinating.
    Never in my thirty years of life had I ever seen anything like it. I had seen shooting stars and the miracles of life, but this was something else entirely.
    “So do you know where a doll can get a smoke or not?”
    You just couldn’t make this stuff up. I rubbed my eyes, checked my pulse, and pinched myself all in the span of a few seconds. I had to have been dreaming.
    “You want me to smack you a little, or are you gonna help me with my nicotine cravings?”
    Science was a lie. It was all a lie. There before me was a doll that could speak, with a smoking problem no less.
    “Those things will kill you slow you know.” I said, unsure if I was making a slow descent into madness, or if I had come to terms with a living toy begging for a cigarette. She reminded me of girls in college that just had to get a smoke before going back into the bars.
    “Who are you, my mother?” She replied. She started getting closer.
    “st-stay back,” I said with genuine fear in my voice. I was a grown man afraid of a doll, but then again, Chucky was a living doll too.
    “Don’t get your panties in a knot, I just want a cig ya doof.” She said. Her mannerisms and word-choice suggested that despite her elegant appearance, she was blue collar through and through.
    “I must be crazy,” I muttered aloud.
    “No, you’re as sane as the next guy.” She replied. Reassurance was not her strong suit, but at least she was trying to keep me calm. “Listen, I realize that my being a talking doll is messing with your head, but if you grab me a smoke I’ll explain it to ya nice and slow.” She was beginning to rationalize with me, and for some reason I was drawn to it.

    “I’m sure my wife has some hidden upstairs.” I was still unsure, but for some reason giving it what it wanted seemed like a better idea than running around frantically swinging a hammer.
    “Take me with you,” She said. “Trust me, you want to.”
    It was just too surreal. My daughter had told me multiple times that the doll could talk, but I brushed it away as childish imagination. How could I explain this?
    “Should I just pick you up?” I asked. One could never be too sure without asking.
    “Lift me up and get me a cig already, quit dicking around.” She snapped.
    As I took her and walked upstairs, I hoped to god that there would be a cigarette in my wife’s cabinet drawer. I pulled a cigarette out for the doll and lit it, it smelt of burning toast.
    “Oh my god I’m having a stroke.”

    1. don potter

      The cigarette addict doll is a funny premise. I enjoyed the dialogue, but did not understand the stroke coming in from left field at the end. What did I miss?

    2. Victor

      The smell of burning toast is a hallucination that sometimes precedes strokes – so I’m guessing the whole story is a product of the brain disorder. But, actually, I quite like it as a total weird non-sequitur. Like the Monty Python skit where a bloke standing in a room, doing absolutely nothing, suddenly yells, “Oh God, I think I’ve broken my leg!”

  34. MrsCass007

    I couldn’t believe it. I had found the doll. Ursula. She had been in the family for years, until the family fell on hard times during the great depression. My eyes swelled up with tears as I wrapped it for my daughter Elizabeth. I was not only going to be able to tell the family story of Ursula the talking doll to my daughter, I was going to be able to give her Ursula.

    I felt like a little girl myself again, waiting for Christmas morning. I had hid her in the attic. No one but me knew about her. Only if my grandmother could be here. She had been the last girl in the family to have her. My great-grandmother had sold her to a wealthy woman, who’s daughter had seen my grandmother with her and had thrown a tantrum to get her. Soon afterwards that girl had died mysteriously and the family had left town.

    I couldn’t stand it I called into work. Christmas was going to come early at the Rokossovsky household. When everyone left I went to the attic and gently unwrapped Ursula. I was staring into the ice blue eyes. You look so real…I am real. I gasped and almost dropped the doll. I shot up and yelled, Who said that !!! Then I felt a soft touch on my hand. What’s wrong Nina? I took a deep breath. The stories are true? Yes, Nina I was created to protect the women of the Rokossovsky family. If I want someone punished you’ll do it ? Yes.

    The face of my mother’s murderer came instantly into my mind. Fifteen years ago…the horror. I passed out. I awoke to my husband shaking me. How long had I been out? What happened? That’s what I was going to ask you honey? Where’s Ursula? Who? The doll?!!! Oh, that weird 4 foot tall thing next to you? I looked over and to see her standing next to me with just a hint of blood on her lips.

    Don’t call her weird !

    Here honey let me help you up. I felt like I had lost weight.

    I see now why you’ve been acting manic all week. I take it you found the family heirloom.

    Did I ever.

    Christmas night we all turned into dolls.

    Next time you see a gleam in a porcelain figurine’s eye don’t stare too long.

  35. wavescollide

    There was a strong floral scent that arouse from the doll. While it was covered in a layer of dust, you could of thought it was pollen or perhaps that the faded flowers of its dainty dress had came to life in that moment. This was all I could remember of the doll that Molly was eagerly reaching for on a shelf too tall for her. It was the first time either of us had been to an antiques shop and it felt as if we were destined to be there from Molly’s excitement alone.
    When I grabbed the porcelain doll with scarlet curls, Molly’s eyes lit up with such delight. Perhaps this delicate toy had been someones once but that day anyone could sense that it belonged to my little girl. She hugged it, her ginger strands blending and twinning together in the doll’s locks. A saleswoman asked us for less than I had expected and it was officially hers.
    Perhaps a week of tea parties with the new toy and various teddy bears had quickly gone by. Molly greeted me one early evening, her pretty doll not with her, and sat in my lap as I began to close my book.
    “What is it, baby? Why aren’t you playing with your dolly and friends?” I asked her gently.
    “My dolly talks to me, Mama.” She said so innocently and confidently, I was taken aback.
    “Honey, are you feeling okay?” My brain began to wonder if maybe the doll had a string somewhere and Molly found it. But then again, wouldn’t I have heard it go off?
    “She wants to talk to you, she says its very important.” Molly, again, so certain in her words made my heart jump a little. I put on the biggest smile I could as I lifted her off my lap and took her hand.
    “Would you like to come with me, baby? Am I invited to the tea party?” I joked and gave her more big smiles while holding back my curiosity. I wanted to do my best and play along.
    “Its important, Mama. Only you.” Molly then let go of my hand and gestured with her petite one in the direction of her room. I felt my brow furrow but I struggled to keep a calm face.
    “Well, wait for me baby. Don’t leave the room, please.” Molly instantly listened and crawled up onto my chair with ease. She gave me a thumbs up and I gave her one back, then began to walk the short distance to her bedroom.
    As I advanced, the lavender walls were lit by one lamp on her tiny dresser. Furthermore in the doorway now, I could see that no tea party was set up and that the doll with the scarlet curls sat in one of her play chairs alone. It was a little erie but I felt calmness as I went to inspect it. The floral scent filled my nostrils and I couldn’t help but smirk a little at the silliness of the situation. As I began to turn the doll around to inspect for a secret pull-string, my mind spoke louder than I ever heard any thoughts before.
    “Becca.” The voice in my head said my name and not even in my voice. It was a much softer, familiar woman’s voice. I was speechless and turned the doll back around but its lips had not moved. My heart pumped a little faster in my chest.
    “Its real. Don’t try to ignore it. Molly and I have been bonding quite a bit this week.” The voice went off again and I stared blankly into the doll’s face. How could this be happening? Was I having some sort of mental episode? Then my legs began to shake as my heart went faster so I sat on Molly’s low bed. The doll still grasped in my hands.
    “I don’t mean to frighten you. There is indeed something I want to tell you. Do I not sound familiar?” I analyzed the voice, picked apart its sweet tone. It was very much so someones voice I knew – or once knew. And yet was me holding this doll really causing this? This doll was in-fact talking telepathically to me in my head.
    “It Grandma, Becca. I can’t explain to you HOW this is happening, but, don’t be afraid sweetheart. I am here to let you know that…”
    “OMG!” I exclaimed and a sporadic tear began to fall from my eye. Then more came, rolling off my chin and onto the blank face of the porcelain doll.
    “I love you, sweetheart. And I am always with you and Molly. Check the shoe.” The voice was so reassuring and I looked up to see Molly peeking her head in the doorway. She seemed curious.
    Quickly, I inspected the doll upside down to see its shoe. A faint name was on one of the miniature shoes. The name was Rebecca.
    “This was my doll. And I knew you would find me. I am in all my belongings, but this was always meant for you and Molly. You don’t have to worry, darling. Everything will be okay.”
    I couldn’t help but cry more and hug the doll. My grandmother, whom I was named after, I had only been alive as an infant to meet. The floral scents grew stronger and more comforting as I tightly, like a child, clung to the doll in my arms and breathed it in.
    Molly ran over and joined me in the hug. She was not sad but purely comforting me. Perhaps Grandma had let her know beforehand that this would be shocking to me. This moment was bewildering, comforting and bittersweet. No part of me doubted that it was all meant to happen and no part of me wanted to understand how it even did. We just stayed embraced, Molly and I, with the doll locked between us.

  36. andresw

    The worst time I made Janessa cry

    At first April-May was just a doll–with synthetic black eyelashes that would quiver when Janessa shook her. Those midnight lashes were what had made me buy her in the first place. She was the kind of toy that only a long-dead, elderly aunt from New Orleans would buy un-ironically. Yet, I felt she had asked me to, like a riddle begging to be solved.

    Later April-May (my wife had called her that because the doll scared the bejesus out of her, like the eponymous months) would become the plastic superego that slept under the ottoman. There were inklings of it early on. Janessa did everything with her: ate cookies, slept badly, played happily, and pottied like a sailor (For a toddler or course, that’s “everything”), so we’d keep April-May in the car when Janessa was at daycare so she could play with her both on the way and on the way home. They wouldn’t let kids have their own toys there, so April-May would wait patiently for her return, and I would try not to look in the rearview at pseudo-girl propped next to the car seat, eyelids flashing at every bump.

    One day I fetched Janessa. After the usual, wow-we-missed-the-hell-out-of-each-other pleasantries, she found her way to her unanimated soul mate. I looked back in the rearview as Janessa hugged April-May and pretended as if April-May were whispering something in her ear.

    “Sweetie, secrets aren’t nice. What are you girls talking about?”

    The sparkle of her eyes became a laser, directed at me.

    “April-May say you eat my food when I not looking. It’s bad, Papa, bad!”

    For months I had eaten her food when she took too long to finish or played with it too much. Janessa had to have noticed somehow from the side as we watched Elmo sing.

    “Sorry, sweetie. I’ll try not to.”

    Janessa leaned April-May over to her ear again.

    “Papa, who was the woman who took clothes off in Papa’s car today?”

    I gasped. Vanessa of course had this vocabulary, but how could she get such notions in her head?

    “Janessa, April-May must be incorrect. I haven’t been in the car since I dropped you off this morning. It must have been Mama.”

    Janessa inclined her magnificent, labyrinthine ears to April-May again. Her little pear-like chin took flight as she looked at me.

    “April-May says it wasn’t Mama. She says the woman made scary noises.”

    There was no way. I pulled over. Janessa eyes grew scared. Not of me, as I would never lay a hand on her. Janessa looked scared for April-May. I got out the driver’s side and walked to the passenger side where she…they were sitting. I kissed Janessa on the forehead, quietly said “I’m sorry” and tore April-May from Janessa’s beautiful, tiny palms. “No, Papa, April-May…” but her protestations were in vain.

    I threw April-May to the side of the road and drove away as her eyelashes flickered by the roadside.

    1. don potter

      Is this a voodoo doll? You don’t say it but the doll coming from New Orleans gave your story that kid of flavor. Quietly disturbing. I would not be surprised if the doll was waiting for them when they returned home.

    2. Victor

      I think this captures the spooky essence of dolls very well – there’s something too knowing and perverse about them. And speaking of perverse – “pottied like a sailor” is a scream.

  37. Doug Langille


    Walking by my daughter’s room with an armload of laundry, I pause to listen at the door. It’s always closed these days with Becky’s preteen need for privacy and I see no reason to invade now.

    I hear nothing, as usual.

    Zoning out in front of the washing machine, I absently work through the chore. The dryer’s heat makes me sweat; the vent must be clogged again. That’s something for Carl to do when he gets home. Of course, that’s not likely going to happen. Not now, anyway.

    I sit in the living room of my otherwise empty house and listen to my mother’s clock tick while mending Becky’s dolly; the dress ripped and the face soiled from her little tumble.

    Holding the toy in front of me, I admire my handiwork. “There you go, Annie. Good as new.”

    “Thank you, Mommy,” said Becky from the rocking chair under the clock, her legs scissoring above the floor. “Say thank you to Mommy, Annie.”

    “Thank you, Mommy.”

    Becky said her doll could talk, ever since we brought her home from the Curiosity Shoppe. Carl and I laughed it off as overactive imagination.

    Annie talks all the time now; I hang on every word.

    The doll is very old: hand-sewn with button eyes and carefully dried corn silk for hair. I brush Annie while Becky watches. We are mother and daughter, frozen in time without a single tick or tock to mark its progress.

    “I miss you, Mommy.”

    “Oh, I miss you too, Sweetie.”

    “Don’t be sad.”

    “I can’t help it.”

    “Let Annie help you.”

    “But, you’re just a toy,” I say to Annie.

    “It doesn’t matter. Becky loves me and you love her,” says the doll. “Make-believe and make-it-real.”

    “Let Annie help you,” Becky says again followed by “I love you, Mommy.”

    “I love you too.”

    My little girl fades and I am alone once more. Tomorrow makes it one year since they left me. The policeman brought me Becky’s doll. He said it was thrown clear before the blaze. I hug Annie, place her in Becky’s chair and wipe away sloppy tears on my sleeve.

    Pouring my heart into that doll, I talk to Annie. I tell her the story of my little girl, of her hopes, dreams, quirks and habits. I leave nothing untold, both the good and the bad. Annie knows all our secrets. She is Becky. She is me. Finally, I close my eyes and imagine away the hurt, whisked away like a bad storm.

    The clock starts ticking again. I open my eyes and the chair is empty. I hear a girl’s giggle from upstairs.

    Rising, I smile and whisper, “Thank you, Annie.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is one of the most touching stories I have ever read. When I read how you write, not only do I realize you are a master but also, how much I still need to know to craft a story as you do.

      I got goose bumps reading it. The reality of the mother’s loss and pain, will never be lost on me. I”ll remember this for a long time. Thank you for your talent and your heart. Kerry

    2. don potter

      This is a wonderfully moving story. We dream of what we don’t have; and, at times, these dreams create their own reality. You captured one of these moments.

  38. rynsp8

    “So, you think my girl is the one?” I must be losing my mind talking to a doll.

    “Yes, she is. She will help put this world back the way it was.” Said the little porcelain face. “After the winter solstice of her 16th year, she will be called upon to fulfill the duties of her birth right. Because of her status as the last Pure-Bread, she will be hunted by the Black Lords of Nigaria.”

    “Wait, what? The Black Lords of where?” I said.

    “Nigaria. They are an evil race that will stop at nothing to conquer what good is left in the world.” She said.

    “Really? Nigaria? What do these Nigarians look like?” I said.

    “They have course hair that covers their body. HUGE snarling teeth that can hardly be contained behind protruding lips. Noses wider than their very own cheeks. AND…”

    “Wait. What year were you made, or born, or hatched again?” I asked.

    “What does that matter?” She said.

    “Well, I mean, doesn’t that sound a little, ya know… racist?” I asked.

    “I don’t know what you mean!?” She said. “The Black Lords of Nigaria are a vile bunch who only seek to destroy what is good.” She said with indignation.

    “Yeah!? And how are they going to do that?” I asked.

    “Well, they are particularly good at games and dancing. They lure unsuspecting citizens into their dark jazz dens with syncopated music. While their victim is in a trance, they steal their money through gambling and give them diseases!” She said with quiet horror.

    “That is the most racist thing I have ever heard in my life!?” I said. “I can’t believe it. I find the perfect gift for my daughter. Antique doll, yeah she’ll love that. And here you are the most racist little bundle of porcelain and lace I’ve ever seen. Where did you hear about these Black Lords?”

    “Joseph Conrad told me.” She said. “He wrote about it in a letter to me while he visited the heart of the Dark Continent.”

    “You mean Africa? Joseph Conrad told you my daughter was going to “save” the world from the Black Lords.” I asked.

    “Well… not in those words exactly.” She said.

    “What did he say?”

    “I don’t remember his words verbatim, but I certainly got the tone!”

    “Prudence, what did he say?”

    “It was quite cryptic, but he said something akin to, ‘Africans aren’t all that bad and I’ll see you when you get here.’ But I could tell what he meant. I would have received the whole message if I hadn’t been turned into a doll by that crazy witch doctor.”

    “We’re done, Prudence. I’m putting you in the attic.” I said scooping her up.

    1. don potter

      Being turned into a doll, and a talking one at that, by the witch doctor is an interesting notion. I didn’t understand the racism aspect of the story, or was it simply that we tend to reject what we don’t understand?

      1. rynsp8

        Yeah, I was trying to go for funny more than anything else. Which is more difficult than I thought. You know a talking antique doll that turns out to be racist.

  39. Observer Tim

    “Your doom is upon you, Caitlin O’Bannon!”

    The doll leapt from the top of the china cabinet and landed in my hair. I shook my head and it fell on the floor like a dropped pillow.

    “Cut that out, Mister Muggins!”

    “Woman, I swore I would have your life for making Stephanie eat those Brussels sprouts. And I will have it.”

    I reached down and plucked him off my shin, holding him up at eye level. He was cute, in a rustic kind of way, an eighteen-inch tall soft cotton doll that I’d found in an antique store. Some previous owner had drawn a face on him and made him a set of clothes like some swashbuckling hero. He even had a little cloth sword at his side, though it was sewn to his pant leg.

    “Have at thee, woman!” His dashing swashbuckler voice was totally at odds with his cuddly little self. He swung his tiny cotton fists at me. I even held him close to my face so he could hit me. It kind of tickled.

    I sat down on the sofa and looked him in the little blue circles he called eyes. “I guess that means Steph is upset at me?”

    “You made her eat those little green cabbages. I couldn’t stand them either!”

    “Muggins, Steph is six years old and she’s my daughter. I know what she needs to grow big and healthy. And your mouth is just a line drawn in indelible ink. You can’t eat anything.”

    “For chocolate cake I’d give it a try.”

    “No way! The last time you got chocolate cake on you I had to put you through the washer twice.”

    He wriggled free of my grasp and dropped into my lap. Then he attacked my tummy, which made me giggle a bit.

    “Cut that out Muggins, or I’ll use you as a loofah!”

    He looked up at me while he continued his ineffectual punching. “A loofah? One of those sponge things? You wouldn’t!”

    “Just watch me.” I picked him up and carried him into the bathroom. I set his pirate suit aside so he’d make a better sponge and squirted body wash all over him. Then I undressed.

    “You’re really doing this, aren’t you woman?” There was a slight tremor in his voice.

    “Darned straight I am.” I squeezed him a few times to work up a lather and then climbed into the shower.

    “Best offer I’ve had in years! Come to me, wench!”

    1. don potter

      Wonderfully weird and perversely funny. I can hear the little guy shouting like a buccaneer and taking charge of every situation. As for him being a loofah, well, I don’t know.

    2. Kerry Charlton

      Oh wow! I’m laughing out loud at the last line. My evil mind knew you were heading in this direction about two thirds through your story but the last line was so funny, I wouldn’t have missed it for a barrell of monkeys.

      Great dialogue, banter and the whole sory line. Being from Philly, I grew up on brussel sprouts and many an early evening, I spent sitting at the dining table, staring at them.

  40. sierrac

    Finally, a vessel I could inhabit was brought into my home. I have been here waiting for someone to know I existed, but no matter what I did, no one heard, saw or acknowledged my presence. I tried to imagine being a ghost, no one saw me. I tried moving objects in the home to get anyone to be aware that there was someone else there.
    This family just moved into my home and a little girl moved into my room. She is sweet but perfectly content playing with her toys and she never heard me. Then just the other day, a little doll was given to my “roommate” by her mom. This new doll captures the little girl’s attention and she begins playing with her immediately. I too am drawn to this doll and allow myself to settle into her as a vessel for my energy.
    I begin to send my voice thru the doll. “Don’t be afraid, I am so happy to have someone to talk to. I have been lonely for a long time.” The little girl’s eyes light up and she looks around her carefully to see who is talking to her. Once she realizes she is alone except for her new toy she focuses on me and looks deep into my eyes. I realize with great relief that I have successfully become one with the doll and will finally be heard by at least one living being.
    The little girl goes bursting into the next room excitedly telling her mom “the doll you got me, she is very special, she can talk!!!” She says this with great excitement and so quickly that her Mom pauses a moment and runs her daughter’s words thru her mind. “Honey I am glad you are thrilled with your new doll, I thought she was very special when I saw her” “What did she say to you?” The little girl pauses and says “ she said she was lonely and is glad to have someone to talk to.” She quickly added “I hope she has stories to tell me, I am lonely and want a friend to play with.”
    That night the little girl took me to bed with her and we fell asleep under her big fluffy comforter. I had forgotten how good it felt to sleep in a bed and be held by someone who loves you. I knew I had to try to reach her mother. I will wait until I am alone with her tomorrow and see if she will help me. I fell fast asleep and was awakened by the Minnie Mouse alarm clock gently ringing.
    I patiently waited until her mom came to our room to make the bed after the little girl left for kindergarten. I was nestled in the covers of the rumpled pink comforter and was picked up and looking her mom straight in the eyes. She looked a bit startled as I looked back at her with an intensity she had never seen in a toy eyes before. She said to me “so you can talk, what do you have to say today?” She smiled and looked at me for a moment as if she felt silly even talking to me. I focused my energy and said “I have been waiting for someone to help me, will you help me?” With a mixture of disbelief, fear and astonishment on her face she stammered “what do you mean?” I blurted out “My name is Amy, my family and I were murdered twelve years ago and I want the man who did this punished!”

    1. calicocat88

      I think this would be a great story start. You should continue with this. You captured the “spirit’s” intensity wonderfully. Well written and makes me want to know what happens next :) Great job!! And I agree with catbr. I don’t want to live there either. Yikes!

    2. Observer Tim

      Whoa. I really liked this, sierrac. It’s a lovely and haunting ghost story; I’m a sucker for ghosts with unfinished business.

      For future posts (please, please), I would be even happier if you put an extra blank line between paragraphs. The whitespace makes it easier to read.

      1. sierrac

        The Mom is going to help her. The ending will be way different than you might expect tho :>) I have been crafting the rest of the short story. I dreamed about it last night and I am finishing it. Hopefully it will make mention in the short story competition and get published :>) Positive thinking anyway.
        Thank you for the positive feedback!!

    3. don potter

      I liked your take on the prompt. A nice sequel to the story would be how the new family helps the old family find the killer. As for me, the “For Sale” sign would be on the front lawn before lunchtime.

  41. Reaper

    I’m always buying stuff like that for Tiffy, silly things that have a historical joke in my mind. That doll had special appeal to me. When Tiffy told me Chappy could talk I laughed and told her she had her father’s sense of humor. I thought the comment along with the loss of her mother six months before was why she lost enthusiasm for the doll. That was how it ended up in the house when she was not.

    “Excuse me sir. Would you mind terribly not stepping on me? While you are at it you might consider a diet.”
    I lifted the doll from the floor where it had been discarded. It truly was an ugly little thing. It would only occur to me later that I spent not one second on disbelief but went right into talking to the antique toy.
    “Chappy, I am afraid it’s the wood chipper for you.”
    “I must admit that I dislike this idea immensely. As I have no means of stopping you may I ask why?”
    “Because dolls shouldn’t talk.” A very reasonable answer.
    “I would say giants should not step on people. That is a much worse crime.”
    “Doesn’t matter, you’re obviously evil and bound to corrupt my daughter. Tell me though, how is it that you look like Hitler but have a British accent?”
    The doll made a noise I associated, due to movies, with choking on blood.
    “Pardon me sir, but your logic contains at least on fallacy. How is it you look like a man and act like a savage beast? I do not look like Hitler but am instead modeled on the great Charlie Chaplin. Who on earth would sell a Hitler doll, and why would you give such to your daughter?”
    “Well the antique store would sell one, pip pip, and I would give it to her because you’re historical and funny. Any other questions before I turn you into scrap?”
    “Of course sir, does it occur to you that you are seeing me as evil because I have brought your daughter the comfort after her mother’s death that has eluded you? That in truth you wish to see a cursed object because at the moment you are worried about your sanity due doll speaking to you, and that such has you worried for your daughter’s mental health?”
    My response to that mirrored its exasperated sound from a moment before, but I was able to do something about it.

    I am a liar. I didn’t throw Chappy in the wood chipper. Instead I tossed him into the fire place and lit it quickly. He screamed and raged, begging for salvation from the savages who would still burn witches at the stake. I’m glad Tiffy wasn’t home. She would have cried something fierce but I did what had to be done to protect her. Besides, talking dolls? Who has time for that crap?

    1. calicocat88

      “The doll made a noise I associated, due to movies, with choking on blood.” Love this line! I like how you took such a creepy situation and had the characters speak to each other as if it were an every day occurrence. The last paragraph has to be my favorite. I’m glad he tossed the doll in the fire, lol! “Who has time for that crap?” Exactly!

    2. Observer Tim

      Poor Chappy! I could almost hear him talking in that tinny little British voice from the early sound films. Your main character is a very mean man.

      It’s a lovely and riveting story, though.

      As I wrote to sierrac, it would also enhance readability of your story to put some extra blank lines between stories.

  42. don potter

    The doll in the window of the antique store looked like a miniature version of my five year old daughter, Ashley. I had to have it. Fortunately the price was right, and soon I was on the bus heading home to the suburbs with this treasure under my arm.

    After dinner, Ashley opened the box. Upon seeing the doll she ran away in tears. I went to her room carrying the box with the doll inside. Maybe the similarity in looks frightened her. There could be no other reason for Ashley’s reaction.

    “What’s wrong, Sweetie?” I asked.

    “I don’t like her,” she said and pointed to the doll.

    “Don’t you think she’s beautiful?”

    “We’re like twins only she’s smaller.” I took the doll from the box and placed it on the bed next to Ashley so she could see their images in the mirror.

    “Yeah, she is pretty just like me,” Ashley said and wiped away the tears.

    “Do you want to keep her here and play for awhile before going to bed?”

    “Yes, Daddy, and thank you for the present.”

    About an hour later, Ashley came running into my study and said, “Say good night to Zelda.”

    “How did you come up with that name?”

    “She told me her name is Zelda.”

    “A pretty name for a pretty doll.”

    “Zelda’s not a doll; she pretends to be one so people don’t know what she’s up to.”

    “Where did you get that idea?”

    “She told me.”

    “Okay, enough fun for tonight. Time for bed. Mind if I keep Zelda with me? I have a few questions to ask her.”

    “But we’re sisters and want to sleep together.”

    “Let me have a chat with Zelda. There are lots of other nights for you to sleep with her.”

    My daughter skipped off to her room leaving me alone with the doll.

    The family was asleep and I was nearly hypnotized by the glow emanating from the computer screen after working on a report for several hours.

    A voice broke the silence of the night. “Why did you take me away from the child? I had plans for her.”

    “Who said that?”

    “No one here except you and me, Jerry,” the doll said.

    “This is weird.”

    “No, it’s soul transference, also known as ST.”

    “Never heard of it.”

    “It is quite simple. I take on the appearance of the human to be inhabited, and then I take their soul.”

    “Right, and it’s time for me to get some sleep.”

    “Did you notice how much I look like your daughter?”

    “That’s the reason I bought you. Wait a minute, am I actually having a conversation with a doll?”

    “You are speaking with me, the new Jerry. And, now, you’re mine.”

    The following morning, Ashley went to the study looking for the doll. She called to her mother, “Why does Zelda look like Daddy? Where is he, anyhow?”

    1. jhowe

      That was a fantastic string of dialog. The way Jerry interacts with Ashley is great. It’s difficult to keep ramping up the tension with dialog alone but you pulled it off.

    2. calicocat88

      Oh, this is spooky! I love stories like these where you want to scream at the protagonist to set the thing on fire before it gets everybody in the house. Good story!

    3. Victor

      A gem, Don. Neat as a pin; not a snag in any sentence; fully realised characters; a brilliant hook in the first line.

      Although I think I managed to track down one tiny nitpick in “…keep her here and play for awhile…”: “awhile” should probably be “a while”.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I have to get in on this also. As tight and expressive a story as I’ve read in a long time. This is a perfect plot for a new Twilight Zone. I don’t know why they won’t try. Well, I guess I really do but they oughta put you in charge and hammer out the stories for a new series.

        Think of the challenge, Don. Have you ever thought of writing an entire screen play? This is the pefect story for it. Get busy!

        1. don potter

          I’m working on my sixth novel but have little desire to write screen plays. However, there is some interest in turning MURDER ON MADISON AVENUE into a made for TV picture. I believe I’m one of a handful of writers living in LA who sticks with the printed word. Thanks for your kind thoughts, Kerry.

  43. Kera

    “Jack can talk, Jack can talk- Jaaack can taa-alk!”
    I grip the pan handle harder, despite the still lingering heat of the metal seeping into the handle and searing my finger tips I keep my mouth clamped shut. On the other side of the corridor I can hear the awkward footfalls echoing off of the kitchen and living room, the clicking and maniacal chanting only pulling at my nerves more. When I blink I can see the little creep looming in the doorway staring at me as I read at the kitchen table- and then it’s half bent arm slowly rising up to point at me patronizingly.
    Goddamn doll.
    It keeps chanting even as I tiptoe down the other side of the wall, if he was quicker I’m sure he would run around the corner and see me easing out of the front room to the back door. If only I had been wearing pants when the little bastard revealed himself, I can see the neighbors rolling their eyes and whispering, “There’s the freak kid that ran out of her house in her panties because of her daughters doll… what a nut case…”
    When I’m only a good ten feet away from sweet freedom I realize the footsteps have stopped and I can hear the doll tapping it’s hands together, they’re plastic and it’s fingers are perpetually curled as if reaching for a mother. “Jack wants to plaa-ay,” it starts chanting, and then throws it’s body back and forth as it tries to rush towards me.
    Without thinking I run towards it and swing my foot up square into the plushy chest. The doll flies backwards into the wall and lands on its face. The chanting stopped but I watch in horror as the arms start moving side to side desperately.
    I knew this doll was creepy when Lauren ran up with it against her chest, it reminded me vaguely of Chucky, even though the hair was shoulder length and relatively adorable- despite it’s too-wide brown eyes and toothy grin. Sinister little… creep. Right after I bought the thing Lauren would go to school and I would stay home to work, only to be distracted by the constant feeling of being watched and imagining the doll lingering in my peripherals.
    Only today, the one day I wake up late and forget to put on pajamas, is the day he decides to confront me with “Jack can talk!”
    No shit, Jack.
    I run out the front door and slam it behind me. Dimly I hear the doll calling and begging for me to play with it, I ignore the voice and instead occupy my time with hiding my lower body behind a bush.
    A neighbor walking their dog strolls by on the sidewalk and I blanch embarrassed when he looks up to wave and then scurries off in a hurry.
    I’m definitely getting cited by the Neighborhood Watch for this.

    1. jhowe

      A maniacal doll and a little panty flashing; what more do you need? It was sure satisfying when she punted the little bastard across the room. Good job on the present tense narrative.

    2. calicocat88

      I really enjoyed this! I love how you start the story–at first the reader thinks it’s the child and then after reading you realize that it’s the freaky doll chanting around the house. This was funny and horrifying. Great story!

    3. agnesjack

      I have to say that I found the first paragraph confusing. Is she grabbing a hot pan or sitting at the kitchen table reading? Also, “There’s the freak kid that ran out of her house …” made me think it was the daughter, not the mother.

      Other than that, Kera, I thought it was a really good and concise story. The chanting was very creepy and well-described. The panty flash at the end reminded me of dreams I’ve had. Mortifying!

  44. wohisme

    “I think there must be something wrong with me, I could swear that doll just talked to me.”

    “Excuse me… sir… ” I freeze. “Down here…” The rare 1950s era Charlie Brown doll I got my daughter (he’s really mine) is talking to me, or so my wife and consummate prankster would have me believe. So, I play along while subtly searching for hidden cameras.

    “Oh, Charlie, I am terribly sorry, I didn’t see you there. How are you?”

    “Better now, I thought I’d never see you again and then you walked in to the antique shop. How have you been?” She’s out done herself this time, probably shouldn’t have told her about my Charlie Brown doll. I really wonder how she finds the time to plan these elaborate pranks.

    “Oh well maybe I can fill in some boxes… get it? fill in some boxes… ‘cause after all you’re just a comic strip character…”

    “That’s rather droll sir but it’s better than the trombone-like whaa-whaa-whaa I usually get from adults.” She’s not this tricky! “Excuse me for asking sir, you are Billy, aren’t you?”

    “Billy! Uh… well yeah that’s what they used to call me.” Only my childhood friends and family call me Billy.

    “It’s me Charlie Brown! Don’t you remember me, sir? Your dad got me for you.” Tears ran down my face and I picked Charlie up and held him against me in a child like embrace.

    “A little tight sir.”

    “Oh!” I loosened my grip. “Sorry, please stop calling me sir.”

    “Sorry sir… ah… Billy. I am not sure how it is we can speak since you’ve become a whaa-whaa-whaa.”

    “Perhaps it’s because our conversations began when we were young. To tell you the truth I didn’t know, ‘til now anyway, that they were real.”

    “Maybe, Billy, it’s because we are still young.”

    We talked all afternoon. I told Charlie that I thought his talking was an elaborate hoax staged by the little blonde haired girl who lived up the block and who I later married. He talked longingly about that little Red Haired Girl. I told him I had it on good authority that she liked him too.
    Along with the happy news I felt compelled to share the sad so I told him that Shultz was gone. I added though that he lives on through all the Peanuts Gang.

    As I was putting Charlie back on my daughter’s shelf and, given the rapidly approaching season, I thanked him (as proxy) for A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s a simple and wonderful reminder of what’s important at Christmas and all year round. (Parenthetically, for me anyway, the sound track always cheers me up… not that I need cheering-up… well maybe once and a while.)

    Finally, I let him know that while she’s likely better than most and certainly reasonably priced, Lucy’s probably not licensed psychologist and, oh, she was never going to let him kick that football.

    His last words to me were, appropriately, “Good grief!”

    1. jhowe

      When I read the 1950s era Charlie Brown I thought you were crazy because I refuse to believe how old I’m getting. But I looked it up and Shultz first created him in 1947. I would have guessed late 60s. Nice light hearted story. Very enjoyable.

      1. wohisme

        Except for the talking doll the story is true. I did/do have a Hungerford Charlie Brown from 1955. My wife got him or me on EBAY. I tried to import a picture of him but it wouldn’t work. I have the books and DVD and the sound track on CD – I really do love it. The thing that occurs to me is that back in the day the show was on once a year and you had to be there or you’d miss it ’til next year, it made it more special. Now you can pop it in any old time – it’s just no the same.

        Thank You Jhowe

    2. Observer Tim

      OMG, wohisme, this brought back a boatload of memories. I also loved A Charlie Brown Christmas, especially (a) Linus and Lucy (the main theme), and (b) the psychiatric help sequence with pantaphobia.

      THAT’S IT!

      You captured Charlie’s speech beautifully.

      1. wohisme

        Apparently the sponsor – CoCa Cola – had issues with Linus’ reciting Luke 2:10. they thought it was too religious and would turn off viewers. I have a book – my wife got it for me, she gets me lots of stuff, that’s all about the A Charlie Brown Christmas, behind the scene stuff, it’s great. Unfortunately it lost in the house somewhere. She, the little blonde haired girl, also got me on EBAY a Zack the Sack Whimsies doll also from my childhood – he’s a beatnick (pre hippie) my family hates him, they think he’s creepy.

        Oh yeah Lucy’s great.

        Thanks Observer Tim

    3. agnesjack

      Loved this! I have a special place in my heart for Charlie Brown, and the fabulous music from the Christmas special (Vince Guaraldi Trio). Favorite part: Snoopy dancing with abandon on the piano.

      Thanks, wohisme. You made me smile.

      1. wohisme

        Thanks – Regarding Snoopy: I also love the way he skulks away when Lucy and Schroeder give him death looks. Oh and the way Lucy has Schroeder play Jingle Bells – it’s all great. Speaking of Schroeder, Happy Beethoven’s Birthday – Dec 16th, it’ll be here before you know it!

  45. mimipii

    “Please put me through to my husband”, I beg of his secretary. Gayle the Gargoyle is how I refer to her in my mind. For good reason.

    “Larry’s too busy to chat right now. He’s in an important meeting.” comes her nasal voice in my ear. I hate dealing with her, she’s so condescending. But now I have no choice.

    “I know he’s in a meeting but I really need to talk to him. Can’t you just peek in and see if he can take my call? Please? It’s very important,” I plead. I am so spooked out at the moment; I need to talk to Larry desperately.

    “What’s the matter, dear, you saw a bug in the tub, again?” Comes her patronizing reply. It was hardly a bug, I want to defend myself. It was a full fledged rat. And at the moment I would love to take said rat and fling it in her face. Yeah, I’d love to see HER reaction. Actually, right now, I would rather it be a rat in the tub than what it actually is. There are thieves upstairs. I know what I heard. It sounded like voices and perhaps light footsteps coming from my daughter’s room. She must’ve left the window open…

    I must not have answered back fast enough, because The Gargoyle has hung up on me. I wedge myself out of the kitchen cupboard to listen again. Maybe they took whatever they wanted and left, I think hopefully. What would Larry do? I ask myself. He’d go upstairs and scare them away. Yes, that is precisely what he’d do. Be brave, I tell myself, as I inch towards the stairs, a frying pan in each hand.

    I creep up the stairs as silently as possible keeping an ear out for any noises. At first, all I hear is my own pulse drumming in my ears. Then… yes, I still hear voices. The weird thing is that the thieves are not trying to keep the volume down. They are actually being quite loud. Very strange. I reach the top of the landing and turn right. Hannah’s door is closed but I can still hear the shouting coming from within. It sounds like a little girl’s voice. No, not my lovely Hannah. I brought her to school hours ago. This is getting stranger by the minute. I twist the doorknob and slowly wedge the door open. There is not a soul in sight.

    The window near the toys is open, however. A breeze is blowing the heavy drapery, emitting a light thump as it whacks back against the wall. With each billow of the curtain, the doll nearby gives a shout. “Get out of my room, peabrain”. “Get a life, dottohead”. “Mo-om! He’s in my room again!”

    I just bought the doll yesterday and the packaging is still in the trash. I pull it out and read aloud, “Motion activated voice recording”.

    I can hear The Gargoyle’s voice in my head, “Dear, you’re scared of a doll?!”

    1. Observer Tim

      Very clever, mimipii. I love the happy ending and the way you keep us in the dark until the last second.

      What scares me is that those motion-sensitive dolls are on their way to becoming antiques. I suddenly feel old.

  46. Leanderdias


    While shopping downtown one day, you find an antiques store that has a rare, old doll. You buy it for your daughter. A few days later she tells you her new toy can talk. You don’t believe her, until one afternoon you find yourself alone in the house, and it starts talking to you. Write this scene.

    “Mommy mommy!” Sarah shouted, running excitedly down the stairs into the gym-cum-basement, “Drexel can talk mommy!”

    “Yeah, ok honey,” I said, wiping the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. “Mommy’s busy now, go play sweetie.”

    She stuck out a sullen lower lip and languidly ascended the old rickety stairs. Sarah knew how rare it was for her mum to be in the basement working out. It was always before something important. This time it was my high school reunion. Of course I knew that exercising a couple of days before events don’t do much for the figure but it does rejuvenate some of the self confidence that had been slowly withering away over the years. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t fat or anything, I just was on my way there. I’d been slowly developing a not so cute muffin top, and I wasn’t feeling particularly proud of it, seeing as the last time my friends at high school saw me I was a smoking hot cheerleader. Thank god for my metabolism though.
    Drexel, the doll I bought for Sarah, was a revelation. Kids these days are constantly haunted by an incessant ennui, so I was searched assiduously for something traditional to keep Sarah occupied. iPads, iPods and iWhatNots are too advanced for the likes of me, and therefore are sure as hell too advanced for five year old Sarah. For some reason, the androgynous little doll that sat conspicuously in the window of Crosby’s Antique Goods and Knickknacks looked to fit the part. Well at least I thought it looked swanky enough of for my darling Sarah.

    There was an immediate connection between the two. Sarah christened the doll Drexel, and suddenly, they were inseparable. It was only a week later in the basement that I found out the doll spoke. I figured that if it was possible for kids to have sentient imaginary friends, it wouldn’t be unthinkable for Sarah to imagine a voice for her doll. Her father left when Sarah was two, so although she didn’t remember having a father, there still was a hole in her life that needed to be filled up. I shoved the thoughts that were slowly manifesting out of my mind, not only because I didn’t like where the chain of thought was leading but also because time on the elliptical flies when thinking about stuff. I got off the machine and ended my workout.

    The day of the reunion finally arrived and I still hadn’t picked out a dress. I stood in front of the dress festooned bed, chin in my palm with a solitary finger tapping at my cheek, thinking about which dress would be lucky enough to wear me. Drexel the doll sat unhelpfully in a distant corner of the room watching me with an almost sardonic expression. I hadn’t spent that much time alone with the doll since the drive from the store to the house, and even then he was safely nestled in the snowy polystyrene box. As one grows older, and watches a few movies, dolls just become eerie to you. Sarah was out in the yard playing in the pool with the nanny watching her, but I was still surprised that she would leave Drexel in my room. It was a weird occurrence indeed. I suddenly noticed my mind drifting from the task at hand and jerked my head towards the yellow IKEA wall clock. Two hours left. Shit.

    I finally narrowed it down to two of them: A blue Jack Prosen and a red Cucci that my mum bought me for Christmas. I hoisted them off the bed and turned to look at the mirror to see if it would make a difference. The blue dress said classy and well established while the red said sexy and independent. The decisions were so much more than just about colors and fit, it was about what people would think of me, how i would be perceived, whether I’d still look like the catch I was fifteen years ago. It was driving me nuts.

    “Fuck me!”I yelled, frustrated with the world, “Which one?!”

    “Well Ms. Dean” said a voice with a rather sophisticated British accent from the far corner of the room.

    “The red one looks rather fetching…”

    1. Victor

      Okay, I want one — where can I get one of these iWhatNots? I live in a constant state of panic that I’m falling behind, IT-wise.

      Good use of detail, Leanderdias – engaging, as though you’re describing something real rather than just making stuff up.

      One sentence I thought a bit clunky, needing to be revised and recast: “I shoved the thoughts that were slowly manifesting out of my mind, not only because I didn’t like where the chain of thought was leading but also because time on the elliptical flies when thinking about stuff.”

      I loved this observation: “As one grows older, and watches a few movies, dolls just become eerie to you.” Very true, very interesting. What are they, these dolls? A repository of all the fears and goblins we thought we’d outgrown?

      1. Leanderdias

        Good pick out with the sentence. I had my doubts about it too, but had a frustrating mental impasse that really fucked me over. I decided to put it in the end.

        I think its the elliptical bit that’s off yes ?

    2. Observer Tim

      I really liked this take, Leanderdias. It has just the right mix of action and introspection, and the helpful doll was wonderfully non-psychopathic. So far.

      I also loved the dress-festooned bed. I thought I was the only person on the planet who remembered that word (bed). (no, festooned).

      1. Leanderdias

        I love the word ‘festooned’. I read it first in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment and have been using it ever since. Glad you liked it.

    3. frankd1100

      Fascinating to be inside a woman’s head having the mechanism of choosing the right dress revealed. I’ve watched from the outside, the intense concentration as one dress after another is rejected until the final two representing very different looks. Now I know how the decision process works right up to the end, which remains a mystery in the absence of a vocal doll. I enjoyed this…

  47. agnesjack

    I can’t stand it. My five-year old daughter Mae’s been stopping to stare at this old doll in a store window every day for a week. She’s had a real crappy time, lately, so I decide to go into the store to ask about it.

    “How much is the doll in the window?” I ask.

    The saleswoman, who’s all perfumed up with eight pounds of makeup on her wrinkled face, gives me this nasty look, like I’m some kind of lowlife.

    “This is an antiques store,” she says. “I imagine the prices are out of your range, sir.” She says this right in front of Mae, who’s standing there all excited because we’re in the store with the amazing doll.

    I want to choke the bitch, but I say, “Just tell me the price, O.K.?”

    “A hundred and seventy-five dollars,” she says, emphasizing the word “dollars” as if I’m stupid enough to think it’s gonna be cents.

    I don’t flinch. “O.K.,” I say. “Hold if for me, I’ll be back tomorrow,” and I grab Mae’s hand and walk out of the store.

    The jeweler gives me four hundred and fifty bucks for the ring. What the hell else can I do? Paula died more than a year ago. I’m not married anymore, you know? I figure I’ll get Mae the doll and a warmer coat and some new shoes.

    The next day, I go into the shop first thing. Mae’s with Rosie at the shelter. Thank God for Rosie. That lady is an angel. Anyway, I go into the shop with the hundred and fifty bucks in my hand and the bitch looks at me, surprised.

    “You can wrap that doll up for me, now,” I say slapping the money down, “and make sure it’s wrapped pretty. It’s a present for my little girl.”

    The look on Mae’s face when I give it to her breaks my heart. There was a time I could’ve given her stuff like this. Now, three and a half years after the layoff, here we are. It killed Paula, losing everything. It fuckin’ killed her.

    That night, I splurge on a room at an SRO. Mae’s been holding the doll all day, whispering to it and then putting her ear down to its mouth, pretending to listen. She hasn’t been this happy in a real long time.

    I sit on the lumpy chair looking out the window, while Mae drifts off to sleep on the bed with the doll next to her under the covers. I’m exhausted. Do you know how fucking hard it is to get a job when you don’t have an address? How the hell am I supposed to take care of my little girl? Jesus Christ!

    “You’re a good father, George.”

    What? Did I imagine that? I look over at the bed. The doll is looking at me.

    “You are, George,” the doll says.

    It’s Paula’s voice. It’s Paula’s goddamn voice. I put my face in my hands and bawl like a baby.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You’ve done a good job with the narrator’s voice, Agnesjack. It sounds like the poor soul has managed to reach the end of his rope. Spending the last thing of value he owns, his wedding ring, to buy his daughter a doll to make her happy is heartbreaking. I noticed a small tic.

      The doll in the shop was quoted as $175.00. He brought $150.00 back to the shop. A simple matter to change one.

      1. agnesjack

        Ah, yes, Kerry. Oops! I was so concerned with calculating whether $450 would be enough to buy the doll, coat, shoes and a night in an SRO, that I completely missed the mistake. Thanks.

        1. Susan

          I enjoyed it so much I didn’t even notice the difference – but then I’m not much of a ‘numbers’ person ;) Lovely story – and, like Kerry, I found the narrative voice very effective and engaging.

        2. Victor

          Actually, you could read the 150 bucks as George forcing the snooty saleswoman to accept a lesser amount. Well done George, I’d say. Like all bullies, the snob didn’t like being stood up to.

    2. jhowe

      That was a damn good story. I racked my brain for a long time trying to think of a story for this promt and never even remotely considered a homeless MC. This was very well written and very moving. It illustrates that homeless people are not necessarily insignificant bums or perpetual alcoholics.

      1. agnesjack

        Thanks, jhowe. I wrote two other drafts that I didn’t like before I hit on this idea.

        You’re right about the misconceptions. That’s why I had the woman in the shop react to him with that kind of prejudice. There are a lot of homeless families out there because of layoffs and catastrophic illnesses that rack up enormous medical bills. Once you’re homeless, it is hard as hell to get back on your feet.

    3. BezBawni

      I agree with the above, agnesjack, the story is good. A bit too much swearing for my taste in such a small story, but the ending made it all: the ending was just the right size with just the right words.

      1. agnesjack

        Thanks, BezBawni — we’ve missed you.

        I apologize for the swearing, but I’ve known people who resort to cursing like that when they are angry and frustrated. Half the time they aren’t even aware of it. However, I can see a place or two where it could have been toned down for the sake of the story.

        Thanks, as always, for your input.

      1. agnesjack

        Thank you very much, Tim.

        During the holiday season I like to remember those who may be struggling. I like to think that George and Mae will be fine eventually, perhaps with some help. We all need a little help sometimes.

    4. frankd1100

      Couple of days ago a friend said to me, “Life is a vicious bastard…” And it is. It’s much easier to fall into such dire circumstances as George has than most of us realize. The heartbreak is about how much he wants for Mae while being trapped in a nearly hopeless situation. You really put me there. Good work AJ.

    5. lailakuz

      I love this story for so many reasons. Firstly, it was heartbreaking and you could really feel the MC’s pain. At the same time, however, it wasn’t sappy or over-moralizing, it was real. You showed the ugly in the MC’s situation and people’s cruelty, but also the beautiful in his love for his daughter. The prose is used sparingly and effectively. You also took this prompt in a very original, refreshing direction. My only suggestion would be to focus a little more on that last paragraph with a bunch of questions and maybe make it flow a tiny bit more. Great job though!

      1. agnesjack

        Thank you very much, lailakuz.
        You are absolutely right about that paragraph. It was the last one I revised, and I wasn’t happy with it’s clunkiness, but I was already over the word count (by 48), so I let it be for the prompt.

  48. Susan

    “Time to wake up, Mummy.”

    I nearly jumped out of my skin. I’d dozed off in the chair and the high-pitched, girlish voice acted like a piercing alarm clock.

    “Lucy?” It sounded like Lucy, but I looked across to the bed, and she was sound asleep. She must have been dreaming, I thought – talking in her sleep. I closed my eyes. I was so tired. And it was dark outside. Just a few more minutes, I thought, then I’ll get up and fix us some dinner. I must try to get Lucy to eat something – she’s wasting away. So pale and thin.

    “Wakey, wakey!”

    “What?” Now I was wide awake. The voice was definitely coming from the bed, but Lucy’s eyes were closed. Reaching over, I pulled back the counterpane and jumped back in alarm to see two bright, cobalt blue eyes staring back at me. The old rag doll, tucked under Lucy’s arm, gazed at me through the gloom. I’d bought it for her a few days ago, to keep her company while she convalesced. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’d since been wondering if I’d done the right thing; she’d started telling me it could talk. I know lots of kids have imaginary friends, but I thought she was a bit old for that kind of shenanigans. I was going to take it off her, but she wouldn’t be parted from it.

    Now I wished I had – there was a sinister gleam in its eye and the crooked turn to its mouth, which had seemed kind of cute in the shop, now looked menacing.

    “Come on – wake up!” said the doll, its voice increasingly strident and shrill.

    “Shhh….. be quiet. You’ll wake Lucy.”

    “No danger of that – she’s sleeping like a log. Trouble is, so are you – and you need to wake up. Lucy needs you to wake up.”

    “Shut up! Shut up!” I screamed, screwing my eyes tight shut and putting my hands over my ears.

    Slowly opening my eyes, I saw the doll, its head flopping on one side. I was properly awake now. And I knew it was just a doll. Silent and still.

    There was nothing to hear but the ticking of the clock and the beating of my own heart. The only heart in the room that was beating.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Such a powerful ending to your tale. The whole story slams into your consciousness when you realize the death of a child. There may not have been anything the mother could have done to help save her but the scene will haunt her for the rest of her life.

      In a sense, it’s a powerful wake up into the reality of life. A soul is born, a soul dies. But a child is the worst tragedy of all.

    2. BezBawni

      Goodness, Susan, I might need a personal pharmacist if I plan to continue reading your stories, my heart is already giving me trouble. Such a painful ending which sounded like a cannon shot in my head.

    3. don potter

      I enjoyed the conflict between the doll and the MC until I was punched right in the nose with the point of the story, which you brilliantly drove home. Great work.

    4. calicocat88

      Incredibly moving, Susan. This is the kind of story that creates that hard pressure in your chest after reading it. It gets you way down in your gut–that’s the best way I can describe it. I agree with Kerry. This is powerful.

    5. Victor

      Absolutely nailed it, Susan. As sophisticated as it was visceral. The line, “Lucy needs you to wake up” was a moment of maximum shiver. Loved the follow-through ticking clock at the finish – often a baby comforter, now a sterile hollow mockery.

  49. Critique

    Navigating the slushy courthouse steps I felt numb. Exhausted. Three years in and out of court, sleepless nights, and terrifying encounters with my deranged husband – and it was finally over. Donn’s hold over us was broken. He was locked away in an insane asylum. I had sole custody of my precious eight year old daughter.

    As I jostled for room on the sidewalk Sophia’s serious little face loomed in my mind. I longed to see her play and laugh like other children. We could relax now. Our nightmare was over.

    My late mother often said: “When you’re feeling your worst, do something nice for someone. It lifts your spirits.”

    On a whim I crossed the street to an antique shop. A bell tinkled in the back. I was alone and drawn instantly to a doll propped up in a metal carriage. Stroking the satin garments and admiring it’s fine porcelain features and bright blue eyes, I decided I had to have it. For Sophia of course.

    A slight cough startled me and I swung around to face a plump bespectacled woman.

    “How much is the doll?” I cradled the doll in my arms.

    “Well dearie.” Her beady eyes examined me. “Belinda is one of a kind.”

    A shiver of joy ran down my spine. “How much?”

    “I can give you a good deal.” The shopkeeper plucked the doll from my arms and wrapped it in tissue paper. “She’s been with us long enough.”

    Sophia fell in love with the doll as I knew she would. They became inseparable.

    Belinda accompanied us everywhere. Ashamed at the jealousy I felt at the attention Sophia lavished on Belinda I was beginning to hate the doll’s blue eyes always watching – me.

    One afternoon I’d had enough. “Sophia, you’re going to the matinee with your cousin. Belinda is too valuable. She’ll be safer at home.”

    “Belinda has to stay with me.” Sophia’s face paled as she hugged the doll protectively. “She said she’s scared to be alone.”

    “Don’t be ridiculous.” I wrested Belinda out of her arms and tossed her none too gently on the couch. “Dolls can’t talk.”

    Sophia threw a tantrum. Kicking. Shrieking. Dismayed at this uncharacteristic behavior, and worried she would injure herself, I threatened her with a time out and tried to subdue her.

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” A male voice – one I recognized – came from the couch.

    I let go of Sophia’s arms. She snatched up Belinda and whirled to face me.

    “See. I told you.” Sophia hiccoughed and glared up at me. “She can’t be left alone.”

    “You best listen to our daughter.” Donn’s voice whispered out of Belinda’s leering mouth.

    I couldn’t breathe. Nothing made sense. The blue eyes stared.

    I heard a maniacal chuckle. Sophia giggled hysterically.

    Belinda spoke with Donn’s voice. “I’ll always be watching.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Shiver, shiver, very diabolical. Two against one isn’t fair. Your writing is very crisp and taut. I enjoyed your story, also has a glimmer of a Twilight Zone.

    1. snuzcook

      I agree with Kerry’s word: diabolical. The set up about the long battle to put the ex into an insane assylum created a the perfect hint of question in the reader’s mind whether the insanity was really finished quite yet.

  50. jhowe

    Joe walked into the cluttered kitchen to refill his coffee cup. The doll he had bought for his daughter Alyson was sitting where she had left it, on a chair at the kitchen table propped up nice and pretty.

    Joe started going through the kitchen drawers and said to himself, “where the hell do we keep the garbage bags at?”

    The doll looked up. “Surely you mean to say where do we keep the garbage bags.”

    “That’s what I said basically.” This doll was becoming a major pain in the ass. He had half a mind to take it back to that dusty antique shop and tell them where they could stick this talking apparition.

    “Perhaps so, but it’s not proper to end a sentence with a preposition,” the doll said.

    “Who are you, Winston Frickin’ Churchill?” He wondered how far he could drop kick a doll this size.

    The doll glared at Joe. “Please show a little respect.”

    “Ok, ok, I’m just looking for a garbage bag. What’s this preposition stuff all about?”

    “You did it again,” said the doll.


    “Ended a sentence with a preposition; ‘about’ is a preposition.”

    “Oh for crying out frickin’ loud, this is the biggest crock I’ve ever heard of.”

    “You probably don’t want to hear it, but ‘of’ is also a preposition. I can’t overemphasize the importance of proper grammar.”

    Joe started to tremble slightly and briefly pictured the doll’s face on a milk carton. “Listen, I have a full day ahead of me. This preposition stuff is something I can live the hell without.”

    “Oh dear,” said the doll.

    “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to hear it.” He thought he might even pay the antique shop to take the doll back, possibly in pieces.

    The doll smiled sweetly. “Joey, let’s try to get it right, just once, for me. Try asking your question without ending the sentence with a preposition. How hard can it be?”

    Joe said, “Aha, ‘be’ is a preposition. You’re nothing but a hypocritical piece of porcelain shit. And don’t call me Joey.”

    “I hate to be the one to bust you bubble sonny, but ‘be’ is not a preposition.”

    Joe silently started counting to ten, mad it to four and threw up his hands. “Where are the frickin’ garbage bags at, bitch!”

    “That’s better, they’re under the sink.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh, that was a barrell of fun. Very imaginative, light hearted laughter. For once, nobody died in this prompt. Conversation dialogue is right on que. I felt like I was sitting in the kitchen, listening to the banter. You’ve made my day, jhowe!

    2. calicocat88

      Yes! I am so glad someone wrote about the usage of prepositions. It bothers me to the point of exhaustion. I can’t stand when I have to end a sentence with a preposition, but it seems impossible. I feel like you took my inner turmoil and cleaved it into the protagonist and antagonist. Love this story; the dialogue was natural, funny, and easy to read. I like how you paced the actions. Enjoyable, jhowe. I think this will be one that I’ll remember, lol!

    3. Victor

      If there’s one thing harder than writing – it’s writing comedy – and you do it well, jhowe.

      For some reason I found the line “Who are you, Winston Frickin’ Churchill?” quite hilarious.

    4. jhowe

      Hi everyone. Thanks so much for the comments. I seem to be in a comedy writing routine lately. I’ll try to get a little more serious next time, unless the mood strikes me differently. There are so many great stories this week. I’m in awe.

    5. Observer Tim

      I love it, jhowe! Keep writing comedy, you do it well. I could almost see this on a sketch comedy show.

      BTW, your semi-namesake Jake has moved from one-encounter wonder to subplotted character in my NaNo story. I’m looking forward to revealing it to the world when I’m done.

        1. Observer Tim

          NaNo is short hand for NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month. Remember that bit I posted on you last week? That’s a part of it. I moved “Jake Howe” to a bigger part because he makes a nice love interest for Leandra.

          26,507 words and counting, as of right now.

        2. Observer Tim

          Another excerpt:

          Even the costume shop doesn’t have any decent masks; I’ll have to talk to Mom when I get home. But I put the rest together in the change room at the gym (good thing I have a membership) and I look great! Just weird enough that people know it’s not purely a fashion statement, but not so weird that they think the circus is in town. As for a name, I’ve already got that. My power affects emotions, so I’m going with Emo.

          Time to show off my costume; I walk out of the gym and straight into Jake. Literally. I bounce off his chest and he catches me.

          “Leandra! You look great! Where’s the party, and can I come too?”

          I tap him on the chest with my forefinger. “Who’s Leandra? I’m Emo, the newest super hero in town.”

          “You know, if you’re going to have a secret identity it might not hurt to do something to conceal what you look like. This outfit kind of does the opposite.”

          “Hmph! Some help you are. You haven’t even got a super suit yet.”

          “Yes I do; I just need a mask. You know, to hide my identity.”

    6. frankd1100

      “Winston Frickin Churchill?” I laughed right through this stroy J. Excellent dialogue and pacing. I can’t exactly place it but I’ve been in the presence of Joe’s dialect which you carried evenly from start to finish.

      Well done, J.

  51. Kerry Charlton


    My older daughter, Annabelle passed to the angels a little over three years ago. Devastation had dominated my life. Losing her had caused constant grief and sorrow in my heart. I had sought God’s wisdom but received little comfort from Him. As I turned to my younger daughter, Charlotte for companionship, I realized her life had been shattered as well.

    Charlotte’s seventh birthday approached and two weeks ago, I entered a quaint, dusty, half-forgotten antique store. I had never noticed it before and sought a present for her. Faded lettering on the window, revealed the name, ‘The Land That Was’. Being drawn to the rear of the store, I saw a small, antique, porcelain doll dressed in a faded, long-flowing christening gown. I knew she was a Victorian doll and beyond my financial means but I picked her up and started to sob uncontrollably.

    I thought I had been alone until an older woman my Mother’s age, approached and tried to comfort me.

    “It’s all right to cry,” she said. “God wants you to know how much he loves you and Annabelle is safe in His arms now.”

    Startled, I looked up. The woman was gone and so was the store. I stood in a small park where the antique store had been. Cardinals were singing their love songs, butterflies stretched their wings and one landed on my shoulder.

    The doll lay secure in my arms as I walked to my car and drove home to Charlotte. She had returned from school and was sitting on our front porch with my Mother by her side. She noticed the doll immediately and ran toward me. I picked her up and held her close to my heart.

    “Daddy, Daddy, you bought me a doll!”

    “For your birthday, sweetheart.”

    We’re going to have a tea party, Daddy, just Annabelle and myself.”

    At the sound of my daughter’s name, I froze. But it was the first time I had seen Charlotte smile since we lost Annabelle.

    Mother mused,

    “I’m worried about you, David. It still makes no sense, doesn’t it?”

    “I’m trying as hard as I can but I still can’t cope with losing her.”

    Later that same evening, Charlotte sat by the fireplace with me.

    “Are you having a good time with your doll?”

    “Oh yes. We tell each other, stories.”

    “A make believe playmate?”

    “No Daddy, it’s Annabelle.”

    “I know how you miss her sweetheart but it’s not really Annabelle.”

    “It is so,” she answered.

    She ran up the stairs to her room, crying. ‘I had hurt her’ I realized as I climbed to her bedroom and softly knocked. She had fallen asleep, holding her doll and I left quietly so as not to disturb her.

    The next weekend, Mother had taken Charlotte shopping. I was alone and lay down on the sofa, still wrapped in grief. Hearing a slight noise upstairs, I entered Charlotte’s bedroom. Her doll was propped up in her bed as I sat next to it.

    “I asked you not to cry for me, Daddy.”

    ‘Good Lord’ I thought. ‘I’m hearing things’.

    “It’s Annabelle, Daddy and I’m happy in heaven.”

    ‘I’m going mad’, I thought and then slowly, I began to see the truth.

    “God bless you, my daughter. I’ll try to do better.”

    “I love you Daddy, remember.”

    “I will never forget and I will alway love you sweetheart.”

    1. calicocat88

      Kerry, you nearly made me cry. This is so beautiful and the description and dialogue are written so well that it’s airy. This story is breathing and alive. I love it! I had good goose-bumps reading this. I don’t know why, but I thought of M. Night Shyamalan crossed with Nickolas Sparks, lol! Great, inspirational read. Oh, and my favorite part was the disappearing woman and store. That’s when the goose-bumps started. I think I’ll be smiling for the rest of the day :)

    2. jhowe

      You never disappoint me Kerry. This was a great read and you made it very believable. You had one little mess up with the mother’s dialog but the rest of the conversations were nicely done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, snuzcook. I very seldom plan an entire story before I write, just the opening paragraph. Sometimes I’m as startled as a reader when I see them unfold.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m very touched by your comments, Susan. I’m glad you enjoyed the read. I receive a lot of help from all of you. It is very much appreciated. Thank you.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you BezBawni. I hadn’t realized how many stories of sadness I had written. Maybe it’s time for me to lighten up a little and write a prompt titled, “Murder By Macaroni.”

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a beautiful story of love, loss and redemption Kerry. Your stories, even those with elements of the fantastic, always bring me back to a new appreciation of what’s really important.

      Thanks for writing.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You’ve made my day, Observer Tim. Thank you. Keep writing. When I see your name pop up on a prompt, I settle and dive into them as if they were a fresh pool of adventure, emotion and understanding.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Doug. Time for me to put the sadness behind me for a while. It keeps coming back to me. I thought after six years it might ease and maybe I might begin to understand like the MC in my story. I keep looking toward the future but the past still overwhelms me.

        I appreciate your thoughts as always.

    4. frankd1100

      Rarely happens but I admit to tearing up as I felt this man searching for a way to live on after such loss. I was the oldest of fourteen children. When I was sixteen my five year old brother died of cancer. The loss was cataclysmic… We lost our little brother, our innocent expectation of life as fairy tale, and most grindingly deflating, we lost our parents’ capacity to be present in the care free ways of ‘before.’ I watched my Mom and Dad closely for a long time after in case they needed me, though I don’t know what help or solace I would have been capable of. Over time, it got better. They were involved; football games, plays, college applications, visits, the struggles that followed. Weddings, grandchildren, huge holiday dinners and the joy of beiing all together. And we were, all fourteen, together.

      It requires courage to write from the pain of losing a child though it reaches deeper into the truth of what we are about in this life.

      Bless you, Kerry.

  52. PeterW


    Okay, the doll started speaking to Sharon.

    Sharon, you know, the former beauty queen, at times model, perhaps at one time a partially nude poser in a high-school letter jacket in one of those magazines. Sharon who was now a mother, now slightly fatter, now married to Rick Sherman (the business man, you know). Sharon, whose face seems raw and a bit pocked from excess sun-tanning, whose blond hair is starchy with dye, who still had gorgeous blue eyes that charmed grocery store clerks and bank tellers all over West Des Moines.

    The doll, ok, was Suzy Sherman’s doll. Suzy, you know, in first grade, stubborn and pretty as her mother, not the kind who hides in shyly coattails and legs, but who says “hi” and “thank you” to said grocery store clerks and bank tellers because her mommy tells her to. Suzy, now in school leaving mommy alone and bored.

    And the doll, bought by Mr. and Mrs. Sherman on that creepy shop off of Bell St for Suzy, was a floppy doll, all fabric, which/who reminded Mrs. Sherman of her childhood, was paid for in cash because said creepy store didn’t take Mr. Sherman’s American Express Members card. The doll, named later by the little Sherman, Katniss, after some fictional heroine that little Sherman currently IDed with, went home in a flimsy cardboard box.

    So the doll started talking that morning. Sharon missed what it first said. The first words were blocked out by the yoga instructor, a hot young thing, on the HDTV posing in warrior pose, instructing. But when Sharon as per normal in warrior pose, ear nearing the white coach, when Sharon, in black tights and a sweat-wicking tank, bent, she heard the doll’s voice.

    Well, Mr. Sherman was at work, Suzy at school, so Sharon in tights thought it was a radio. A radio however broadcasting in uncanny rapid-fire gibberish. Thus a startled, not quite sweaty Sharon turned off the HDTV, though she had meant to mute it. Then she knew it was the doll speaking.

    The doll’s voice was low and manly though the doll was a female doll. Sharon instinctively backed away, heart rate increasing by quite a few beats. From a distance of ten feet, near the kitchen entrance, the doll’s, Katniss’s voice sounded sort of like this:

    “Grum, bub, slook, schweee, sikka, sikka, horny, cha, ba, la, ub, undulate, swagga, glub.”

    Sharon, shock-faced, hurt almost, concerned for some reason that only could be explained by psychoanalytic prying into her childhood, approached, after around a minute of shocked staring. And from up close the doll, Katniss, strewn, face-down unlike the movies would have liked it, sounded like this:

    “Yo, cheek, squat, murmur, swig, slim, groupylove, Suzy’s undergarments, quilt, spleen.”

    One of the said phrases really struck a nerve. That nerve being a nerve in Sharon’s brain. It was true as a young woman she was addicted to cocaine and painkillers, but what does that have to do with anything at a time like this. I don’t know.

    Okay, so, Sharon Sherman grabbed the doll and turned it over to face its face!!!!!!!

    The doll was still speaking gibberish in a rapid-fire man’s voice, but it still had a fabric smile (fabricated, you know) and plastic eyes and nothing at all indicated that it was living, reanimated, or malicious (except maybe the voice).

    Sharon’s vagina….

    Wait that’s not important.

    She was holding the doll loosely, ready to drop it.

    Ok want would you do if a doll started talking to you? For real. Especially if in its expeditious husky male voice it had said a phrase which was associated with trauma and bad memories and childhood and possibly a few times when you had lost self-respect and sold your youthful body for monies. Seriously…would you hide in your room, after discarding the inanimate producer of said male voice? Would you confirm the voice is real via telephone with your business man hubby to confirm you are not having a rather serious auditory hallucination? Would you be afraid? Would you put Katniss in the vice in the garage and smash her fabric face. Would you talk back, perhaps confirming your own insanity? And what did Sharon Sherman do?

    Look, I have no fucking idea what she did. I’m already 200 words over the limit. I wish I could tell you what she did and what she said. I wish I could reveal the clever twist ending, which happened, in this case, to be real twisty, real awesome, more shocking that static electricity etc, etc, but I can’t. Rules is rules, ok.

    All I can say is the phrase that really struck (mentally) Sharon was not “Suzy’s undergarments.” Sharon didn’t even register that Katniss had said this. The phrase that struck her was the one before: “groupylove.”

    Boooooom twist!!!! Another prompt conquered. Pete-Dub for life. Peace homies.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      PeterW, this is awesome,priceless, and daunting to read. After reading it a few more times, trying to catch everything, I’ll come back and comment some more.I almost forgot, overwhelming.

    2. jhowe

      The doll seems to become more articulate as it/she goes along so maybe it won’t be long until the groupylove thing is revealed. You do have a way of telling a story PeterW. I find myself shaking my head and marveling at the same time. That was extremely clever.

    3. BezBawni

      I agree with jhowe – you have a way of telling stories, a unique way with a unique voice. I also think what’s amazing about your stories is that there’s so much of you in them that they speak volumes about you as a person, not just as an author, which is brilliant. I wish I knew you better, Peter.

    4. lailakuz

      PeterW, I found this piece to be really original and insightful. I enjoy reading your takes on the prompt each week. I’m looking for some honest feedback on some of my pieces. I would really like it if you took a look at one and commented on it. :)

  53. snuzcook


    In my hand I was swinging the
    precious bundle I was bringing,
    a gift for my daughter hiding
    In my carpet bag.

    The doll was wrapped and waiting
    A gift for my daughter, resting,
    In her bed, dreaming, waiting
    For my carpet bag.

    In quiet, I climbed the stairwell,
    The pink rose-papered stairwell,
    a trellis of roses stairwell
    With my carpet bag.

    I laid the doll beside her.
    Both faces still, reposing,
    Like two twin sisters posing
    On my daughter’s bed.

    The doll’s eyes weighted, closing.
    The child’s eyes closed, waiting
    In the day”s last light fading
    On my daughter’s bed.

    I untied the doll’s pink bonnet,
    Her old-fashioned ribboned bonnet,
    I untied the ribbon on it
    And set it on the bed.

    Her curls I spread like petals
    Upon my daughter’s pillow.
    Like golden asters’ petals
    Beside my daughter’s head.

    My daughter’s hair a halo,
    A golden angel’s halo,
    My daughter’s hair her halo
    Around her golden head.

    That night my daughter told me;
    In my dream she told me:
    “The dolly spoke,” she told me,
    And snuggled in my lap.

    “She said she’ll never leave me,
    That she’ll always be beside me.”
    “Yes, my darling,” I loving answered
    And held her in my lap.

    In the morning I saw them lying
    As I’d left them in the evening,
    Laid at rest, together, peaceful
    And the dream I understood.

    I crept away in silence,
    In reverential silence,
    I crept away from silence
    The silence of the dead.

    1. snuzcook

      My apologies to theJim who inspired me to go poetic on this one. I think it is in the air, with all those writers on the Poetic Asides corner who are doing their November dailies.

        1. snuzcook

          Thanks, Mittens and Kerry! Technically, I guess it missed an important part of the prompt in that the doll never is seen to speak to the MC. But it was it had a good freak quotient anyway.

      1. snuzcook

        Thanks, Svapne! I didn’t think this prompt was going anywhere for me, since my brain is in my Nanowrimo project right now. But that project includes a trio of spirits, and the connection presented itself.

        Question: This style is new to me. I purposely played with the repetitions and sound-alike transpositions, but did it seem over-done?

        1. Svapne

          I’m a fan of the Raven by Poe, which is full of repetition (and the parody of that on the Amazon review of Tuscan Whole Milk). The Highwayman is also riddled with repetition, and there’s no detraction there. I think it’s a fun style, and it’s immediately comparable to some of the great poetry.

          So I wouldn’t worry. You did it effectively and well. :)

    2. calicocat88

      … … … I almost have no words. So incredibly lovely that I think my hand will permanently stay covering my mouth in awe. I obviously, completely stink at poetry and can sit for hours watching and listening to poets who can construct such amazing pictures and worlds and messages in these word formulas. It’s like algebra for the English major. The words are well placed here and the description perfect for the theme. Exceptional, Snuzcook. Incredibly flowing and twisting version of the prompt!

      1. snuzcook

        Thank you, frankd1100,
        Despite the inherent shallow and lighthearted elements in responding to a random writing prompt, deeper emotions are evoked, just as walking down the street and catching an aroma or hint of a laugh can summon very personal memories from a deeper place.
        It is with eternal gratitude to those who are willing to both write and to experience through reading those common chords that I find it compelling to participate in this site.

  54. starwatcher

    I know that everyone was probably avoiding this, but someone had to do it… Hate me or not, comment below, let me know!
    * * * * *

    Meet David, a normal businessman who walks the same route to and from work every day, five times a week. Soon, he will see a new addition to his route in…the Twilight Zone.

    As David passes his usual route, he sees a new toy store, Little Treasures. In the display window, sits a lone doll with the name of Sassy Susie.

    Let’s see Sassy Susie, the doll that does everything. It’s the lifelike creation of plastic and springs that make it smile. It is dressed in a simple white dress and a red bow in its brown, pig-tailed hair. As a gift to Christie, David’s daughter, he enters the shop and purchases Sassy Susie.

    Once home, the father bestows the new plaything to his daughter saying to take good care of it. Christie takes the doll and goes upstairs into her room, quickly introducing Susie to the rest of her possessions.
    Soon enough, there is a scream the runs down the stairs and reaches the ears of the lone parent. Quickly running up the stairs and into the bedroom, he discovers that all the dolls in the room are mutilated except Sassy Susie.

    “What happened?” the father says panicked and concerned.

    “Mommy, Susie says that I only need her, and she said that I should just get rid of the others, so I did it like she told me how.”

    “Sweetie, toys don’t say that. Tell me the truth, you know that it’s wrong to lie, right?”

    “But she really did tell me that, really!”

    The patient father sighs and says, “It’s time to go to bed Christie,” and leaves the child’s room, taking Susie with him. David walks into his bedroom and sets the doll down on the table next to his bed. He is soon ready for bed and turns off the light.

    After a few minutes of darkness, there is a small light that strains against the darkness as it moves in the bedroom. Small shuffling steps are heard. The father sits up and sees Christie standing in the doorway with a tiny flashlight in her hand. “Daddy I’m scared.” She sounds odd to David.

    “Come here, sweetie.”

    Christie walks over to her father and looks at Susie. David turns on the light beside his bed, revealing Susie sitting down where she was left, and Christie beside the bed. “Susie told me something funny.”

    “What? Susie was here.”

    “She said I had to kill you.” Christie says in an innocent voice, as she lifts her other hand up, presenting a knife.

    But of course we all know that dolls don’t really talk, and they certainly can’t commit murder. But to a child, a doll can become many things, a friend, a defender, a guardian; especially a doll like Sassy Susie, who did talk and did commit murder in the misty region of The Twilight Zone.

      1. starwatcher

        Exactly! I really wanted to get the tone of Rod in the background explaining to the audience. As soon as I saw ‘Living Doll’ I thought, “Did someone just finish an episode of Twilight Zone?”

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Frightful, of course, as Rod would have wanted it to be. You’re exactly on course here. I’m a big fan of The Twilight Zone, having seen them all when they first appeared on TV.

          It’s a funny thing about the stories, you never forget them.

          1. starwatcher

            In my opinion, what makes The Twilight Zone great is the original stories and how they’re told. Because there is no special effects, you have to use your imagination, which is something people don’t use a lot of today.

    1. Observer Tim

      Picture if you will a writer, typing away on a computer in a quiet room. Little does this person know that a door of imagination has been unlocked – a door which will take readers on a brief excursion into The Twilight Zone.

      I like it, starwatcher. It reads kind of like the novelizations of the series.

  55. catbr

    Her hands were so gnarly I wondered if she was even capable of lifting the charming looking old walking doll from the upper shelf. “She sure is a beautiful doll. You have good taste. I remember my mother bought me a doll just like this one here.” She patted the doll’s head. If this wrinkly woman had one in her childhood it must be pretty old.

    “Yeah, I thought something different would be nice for my little girl’s birthday this year. Thought she’d like to see what dolls were like years ago.” I smiled at her as I dug the money out from my wallet.

    With squinted eyes the woman peered at me above the glasses that were perched on the tip of her nose. “Do you believe in witchcraft?”

    “Ah, no can’t say as I do. Why?” This was starting to get a little creepy.

    “Oh, nothing really. I just wondered is all.” she said with a sly grin.

    “Happy Birthday Selena. Here’s a special present for you.” I gave my daughter a hug and kiss and gave her the brightly wrapped present. Excitedly she ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the box. She looked very disappointed.

    “What is this mommy? I wanted a Bratz doll. You know how much I like them.” Tears started to run down her face.

    “Oh Selena, I’m sorry. This is an old antique walking doll.” I demonstrated how when you hold the doll up and move it in a certain way it walks. “See, isn’t that fun.” I didn’t know if I was trying to convince my daughter or myself at this point.

    “Well…maybe. I’m going to take her upstairs and show her my room.” She ran off with the doll to her room.

    Within an hour Selena’s screams startled me. I immediately ran upstairs. “What happened?”

    “Mommy that doll said some bad things to me. It said I was a naughty girl and was going to go to hell for being mouthy and bad. I don’t want it anymore.” The doll laid in the corner on it’s side.

    “Selena, you shouldn’t make things up because you don’t like the doll.” Shaking my head, I rolled my eyes as I went over to pick it up. Then to my surprize, the dam thing’s head twisted around and stared into my eyes.

    “You’re going to go to hell too, Miss “what ugly gnarled hands that old woman has” snob. I can see where your daughter gets her manners from.” That was enough said for me. I tried to grab the doll, but as it was a walking doll, it got up and started to slowly back away from me while eerily keeping it’s hellish glare on me. I quickly took Selena’s hand and ran out to the car. I drove over to the antique store and explained to the old woman about the doll. “Looks like someone might believe in witchcraft now, eh?” She laughed and gave me a refund. After retrieving the doll she promised that such a thing would never happen again.

    Selena got her Bratz doll but we both had nightmares for a couple of weeks. I sometimes drive past the Antique store and the same doll can be seen from the street in the window with those sly innocent looking eyes, waiting and watching for it’s next victim.

    1. calicocat88

      Yikes! I love your opening line about the gnarly hands. For some reason that just captured my attention. I also like the ending how the doll still “lives” and is just watching and waiting. *Shudders* Creepy!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I really liked your story. My favorite part, “It was a walking doll, it got up and slowly started walking away while eeriy keeping it’s hellish grare on me.”

        She lucky she didn’t end up on the floor with her daughter.

    2. Victor

      Two things I really liked: 1. The doll mind-reading the opening descriptor – sent a disturbing back-wash through everything up to that point.
      2. Having the doll’s potential for evil raised and left to just sit there, waiting. Especially in this ultra short format, a very effective terror tactic.

  56. Observer Tim

    The man at the store said that an antique doll would be just the birthday gift for my Elizabeth. It was a porcelain doll from the late 1800’s, dressed in Quaker fashion. Given Elizabeth’s recent foray into Goth, its glum appearance would probably please her. A hundred and thirty bucks later it was mine.

    As I expected, the now thirteen-year old studied the doll without any expression. Wordlessly she went to her room. But she did take the doll.

    That evening I heard a sound that had become alien in our house. Elizabeth’s laughter. I fought to control myself as I went upstairs and stuck my head into the forbidden zone.

    “Elizabeth, are you all right?”

    “I’m fine, Mom. You know, this is a really nice doll.” She didn’t even chew me out for not knocking.

    “I’m glad you like it dear.”

    “Uh huh. It sings to me.”

    “It sings to you? But dolls that old don’t have voice chips. They don’t even have drawstrings.”

    “Not like that, Mom. It taught me a tune, like this.”

    She hums an odd sing-song cadence, seven notes then eight. It sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t remember from where.

    “There’s words, but I want to practice so I can sing them perfectly.”

    The next day while Elizabeth’s at school I check the doll over. There’s no sign of anything that could cause it to make sound.

    “Elizabeth is a good girl.”

    Who said that? I look around. It couldn’t have been the doll.

    “She has an ear for music.”

    Now I start looking around in earnest. Is it the doll talking, or am I imagining things? It’s probably Elizabeth’s computer. She really likes playing tricks on me. After a while I don’t hear anything else; shaking my head, I go back to the housework. I find myself humming that same silly snippet of tune over and over. For some reason I can’t get it out of my head.

    By mid-afternoon I’m just tired and I can feel a migraine coming on. I lie down on the couch with a cold towel over my eyes. Even in the silence I can still hear that tune ringing.

    “Mom?” Apparently Elizabeth is home.

    “Yes, Dear?”

    “I can sing that song for you now.”

    “All right dear. Is it okay if I don’t get up? I have a migraine coming on.”

    “All right, Mother. Just lie back and listen.”

    She hums through the tune once more, then starts the words.

    “Lizzie Borden took an axe …”

    1. calicocat88

      Tim, this was positively horrifying. In a good way ;) It read easy and I didn’t get confused or bored along the way. The dialogue was natural too. You just can’t trust those antique dolls. Never know what they’ll teach our children. This one is going to give me goosebumps for a while. Entertaining. I like this!

    2. Svapne

      I expected some grand re-understanding of her teenaged daughter through the doll; you can imagine my surprise at the last line!

      Also, thanks for commenting the full song and saving me a Google-ing.

      Great story, as always. :)

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Nerve wracking for I knew something terrible was coming from the sinister tone of your writing. What makes it scary is Lizzie Borden really did exist. Wonderful writing on this Tim. Clear and building terror along the way.

    3. Victor

      The more I read of your stuff, Tim, the more I admire it. The brief para starting “As I expected, the now thirteen-year old…” is a beautiful example of conveying a ton of complex character info with the lightest of touches. When the reading is so easy, and the picture so complete, you know the author is a serious craftsman.

      Was the change of tense between “She didn’t even chew me…” and “She hums an odd sing-song…” a delberate change? If so, does the reader need a orienting mechanism? I’m asking, not criticising, because I’m not the full bottle on these things, but it did strike my ear as slightly odd (but then I have a bias against present tense)

      1. Observer Tim

        Actually, Victor, that would be a “gaffe”. I’m writing my NaNo project in the present tense, and the end of this tale slipped into it by accident. Apparently the main character’s verb tense changed while she was asleep.

        From a quick re-read, the present tense works better for this story.

        Thanks for spotting it!

    4. jhowe

      Nice one OT. A modern day Lizze (Elizabeth) Borden… loved it. There were a couple times when you switched from past to present but i didn’t care too much, although I did mention it so maybe a little. I loved the goth angle. At the beginning, I pictured Wednesday Adams standing there, staring at her mother, ambivalent. In the middle I thought Elizabeth was coming around, but not so.

      1. Observer Tim

        Odd you should say that about young Wednesday Thursday Addams (the second “d” makes the difference). The image of Elizabeth and the doll that formed in my head was Wednesday and Marie Antionette (her headless doll).

        And hey, in the movie didn’t Wednesday say “I’m dressed as a serial killer – they look just like everyone else”?

    5. BezBawni

      You are a real jack in the box, Tim))) I’ve never expected horror from you, let alone horror involving a little girl with a creepy rhyme))) I’m still in a little bit of shock. (which doesn’t prevent me from admiring your writing))

      1. Observer Tim

        That’s a real children’s rhyme, BezBawni, from around 1900. Lizzie Borden’s trial was messed up on a scale that makes modern North Americans think of O.J. Simpson. Everyone “knew” she was guilty, but couldn’t prove it. The whole episode is part of American folklore.

  57. calicocat88

    (I believe someone–sorry, can’t remember who–wanted a sequel to the demon story from a previous prompt…)

    Hannah had a feeling. You know “that” feeling. Her niece ran down the stairs holding her brand new antique Barbie doll. It was Rose’s fifth birthday. Hannah couldn’t afford the newer dolls that were vanishing off the shelves that year. The raggedly thing cost a grand total of two bucks and looked like it had come straight from the sixties with matted blond hair and dated clothes that smelled suspiciously like the aftermath of aged marijuana. The worst she expected was a spider crawling out of its ear while they slept and laying eggs their heads.

    “It talks! It talks!” Rose stumbled down the stairs, her hair falling down her shoulders in caramel and chocolate swirls. She leaped on the couch, plopping the doll in Hannah’s lap.

    “No way,” Hannah played along with mock enthusiasm. “What did she say? She didn’t tell you about a delicious chocolate birthday cake in the refrigerator, did she?” Hannah clamped a hand over her mouth. “I mean…what cake?”

    Rose’s little face lit up with delight, but quickly turned her attention back to the doll staring blandly up at the ceiling. “You have to listen.”

    Hannah stifled a sigh and imitated Rose, leaning down with her ear just above the doll’s chipped lipsticked pucker. She didn’t hear anything, of course and playfully widened her eyes. “Oh, she said you should let your Aunt Hannah eat all your cake.”

    Rose wasn’t fazed. “No, that’s not it.”

    Hannah picked up the doll and held it to her ear. She was in the middle of seriously thinking about devouring that cake when a sharp slip of cold breath hit her ear.

    “Hello, Hannah.”

    She pulled back the doll and stared, shock making its way down her arms and legs. An unsure smile was toying at the edges of Rose’s lips. Hannah couldn’t bring herself to return it. She brought the doll back to her ear and this time really listened.

    “Don’t you remember, Hannah?” the doll’s voice was flat, unfeminine. Nothing like the innocent, girlish squeals in horror movies. This was real world possession. “Don’t you remember? I found you again. You can’t run from us. You can’t—“

    The was a muffle in the doll’s voice, like she was struggling to catch her breath or something–

    “Give it back, you stupid bastard!” the doll said. Hannah cut her eyes at Rose who had already started wriggling a piece of string for the cat, thank God. In fact, she could really use some of His help right now.

    “Rose,” the doll had composed itself, its voice louder and clearer and…deeper? “Rose, come here. I want to talk to you.” Rose dropped what she was doing and came over, her tiny hands pulling nervously at her hair.

    “Hi Barbie,” she said quietly. Hannah sensed the lack of fear in her niece.

    “You’re special,” the Barbie said. “Just like your mommy was. She wasn’t scared of anything just like you and she’s dead. What do think that means for you?”

    Hannah screamed and hurled the doll into the fireplace where it blazed a brilliant hot pink. She didn’t take her eyes off the doll or her arms from around Rose until the thing had melted and dissolved into nothing…

    * * * * * *

    “…and the little girl from then on had horrendous nightmares,” I said, “taking her unknowingly into the spirit world where the Demons—“

    “That’s us!” Raven said and earned a dirty look.

    “Don’t interrupt my story,” I said, and was about to get to the really good part when—

    “Who was that other demon you were with?” Raven asked as a waiter carrying a tray of steaming coffee walked by and tripped over my boot, crashing to the ground. “Was that one of your other, um…students?”

    I shuddered inwardly at the thought. “You’re my first,” the manager came out and was hollering at the kid. My job was done for the day. “No, that was my…mentor. He was trying to possess the doll and I knew I could do better so I took over. I can’t say that he was happy about it, considering his foul language, but he was sloppy. I had to do something.”

    Raven shook his lank black hair from his eyes. “You overruled your mentor?”

    “Don’t get any ideas,” I said.

    “So this is the same girl,” he said. “From the other night?”

    The scene from The Joint had played out in my mind too many times to be counted as sanity. I glanced over at the thick red chair Rose had fallen asleep in, the confusion in her wide green eyes. A faint trace of her lips still buzzed the nerves on my mouth. “Oh, her? Yeah. Rosezella Burns. Same girl.”

    “Who knew you’d be chasing after the same girl all these years later,” Raven stared romantically into space and then catching my glare, snapped out of it. “Not that you’re chasing her. I just mean—“

    “Raven, shut up,” I said, standing and jerking him up with me. The Joint was beginning to smell fruity and it was obviously getting to Raven’s head. “We have work to do and with you I have a double portion of Hell watching my every move.”

      1. calicocat88

        Thanks Tim :) I know. The length is killing me. I cut out what I could of this one and really wanted it at least close to 600, but I have a problem apparently. Thanks for taking the time to read anyway. I know it makes it hard on the rest of the writers to read and post when there are the ones like me taking up too much room :/ You guys are awesome the way y’all can make such wonderful stories in such a small amount of words. I’ve said it before, but it really does amaze me.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I’m getting into your demons, Calico. They’d be fun at an all-nighter at the ‘Silver Helmet Biker Bar’ on Harry Hines Blvd. in the no-go-to area of Dallas. Unless of course they closed it from too may killings there.

          1. calicocat88

            Lol! Kerry, you crack me up! “Demons in Dallas.” It has a ring to it. Glad you like my little “demons.”

      1. calicocat88

        Thanks Susan :) Sorry you became confused. This was a continuation of an earlier prompt so the last bit could have been a little too much for someone who didn’t get the details of the original. I should have been more aware of that. Ooops!

    1. jhowe

      Nice take on using Barbie as the doll. I used to give my sister’s barbies haircuts and put them in compromising positions with Ken. I should probably be haunted for that. I loved the story and the demons. They have a certain flair.

      1. calicocat88

        jhowe, that is hilarious! Maybe you should never allow any Barbies in your home just in case. You never know when they will execute their revenge! lol! Thanks, btw :) Glad you like my demons (I was trying to think of another way to phrase that because it just sounds freaky, lol).

    2. BezBawni

      Hey, Calico, that was something! I haven’t had any spare minute to write anything to the prompts, since November’s so busy, but I decided just to check if you kept your promise and wrote a sequel (yes, it was me who asked you to treat us to your funny demons :-) ) – and look what I find)))) I smiled all the way down to the end of the story. Thanks, that was very entertaining)

      1. calicocat88

        I was thinking it was you, BezBawni, but didn’t want to say anything just in case. I didn’t want to hurt any feelings. I know what you mean with the busy-ness. It just jumps on you all of a sudden and doesn’t seem to want to let go. Happy you enjoyed the demons ;)

    3. frankd1100

      “you can’t run from us…” This is some crazy stuff, Cal..

      Something about demons, the demon, scares the hell out of me.

      I can’t help but read it, though. That voice; reminds me of “the exorcist.”

      Good work.

  58. Victor

    The Living Doll

    Don’t you hate the smell of crone in the morning?

    In the passage, balancing a tray, I extended a knuckle and knocked lightly. “Grammy?”

    I gave the lop-sided door a tap with my steel-cap and it wobbled open like an old milk-tooth. I put the breakfast tray down in the passage. We didn’t look hungry today.

    “Grammy!” I cried, trying to rouse myself. “Look how fucken old you are!” With a gorge-loosening chuckle, I kicked the door shut and whipped across to her rocker. “Grammy!”

    Her cold custard face wrinkled, then settled.

    I gave her a peck on the head, got close to the fleshy mixed-grill of her ear, and shrieked her name and shoe-size a few times. It cleared a few cobwebs, anyway.

    I was just settling in, prodding the old biddy to uncover a glaucous eye, when there was a little tap at the door.

    I sat up straight, adjusted my blouse, cleared my throat. “Ye-es,” I trilled. “Who is it?”

    A small worried voice said: “Mummy?”

    “Who wants to know?” I teased.

    “Mummy? Can I…is that you?”

    I sighed. “Hon, are you dressed for schoolie-whool yet?”

    She gulped a breath. “N-no, um…mummy, Patsy-Ruth talked to me again this morning…”

    Jesus Christ. “Sweetheart – didn’t we discuss this last night? Your funny-dumpty-magination – remember?”

    “But Mummy, please can you take Patsy-Ruth away – she told me to…”

    I grinned over at Grammy, nudged her in the rag and bones. “Okay, sweetie,” I called, “we’re all ears – what did naughty talkie Patsy-Ruth tell you to do?”

    A sad little voice said, “She told me to cut Grammy’s fingers.”

    “Oh dear!” I cried, stifling a bark of laughter. “Well…and did you, hon?”

    Just sniffles, and then the door wobbled the teensiest bit open.

    “Don’t you dare come in!” I shrieked with sudden fury.

    And the door softly closed and the sniffles resumed.

    I quickly checked Grammy’s fingers, rifled through the swollen, spotted joints. And sure enough, the second joint of her left ring-finger was showing a deep, clean slice. I stretched the clammy skin on either side and it opened clean as a whistle, showing white knuckle.

    The girl’s voice was breaking with sobs. “Mummy, please, please take Patsy-Ruth away before she talks again – ”

    That tore it. I flashed from Grammy to the door and smacked it open.

    Down at my feet, lying face up on the breakfast tray, was the starkest glassy stare that money could buy. Butter wouldn’t melt in that hard sucking pout. I loved baby doll, but…

    I bent down, grabbed her up by the horse-hair plugs and screamed into her painted face: “You fucking crazy bitch!”

    I stomped wildly down the passage and booted her bedroom door open. Thrusting baby doll like a horror-head into the room, I made it impossible for her unblinking stare not to see the eight year-old girl lying face down on the floor, still in her pajamas, a deep cut clearly visible across the back of her neck, showing the whites of three delicate vertebrae.

    Pointing, I said: “Now be reasonable, baby doll – how is that gunna talk to you?”

    1. jhowe

      Ok Victor, that was a wild read. The MC seems to be a bonafide psychopath that you slowly reveal, or maybe not slowly as it is apparent form the beginning that she’s a little off but not as off as what happens at the end. Brilliant writing. Loved it. Now if I could just figure out what happened for sure. I think the MC killed everyone and butchered the doll.

    2. agnesjack

      After a while I wondered if it was Norman Bates playing “Mummy.” I assume Grammy is dead, but I wasn’t clear why the dead daughter didn’t upset the mother, unless the doll is the daughter and the girl was just some “plaything.” Um… I guess I’m confused, Victor, but I couldn’t stop reading. Very atmospheric.

      1. Victor

        Thanks agnesjack, and everyone, for the comments. I enjoy trying to write from an insane POV, but I have to make it clearer what’s actually going on. It’s not meant to be quite so obscure. It was definitely a Norman Bates type character with a dead Grammy. He’d killed his daughter for claiming the doll spoke to her, then got very angry with the doll for claiming the dead daughter was talking to it.

    3. catbr

      This is a well written story, good descriptions and dialogue from the musings of an obvious lunatic. Strangely I found it somewhat funny in a dark way how the main character speaks. Even the surprise talking doll (instead of being the daughter) was afraid of the mental case. Good writing.

  59. PCG

    At first I thought it was the wind. A small whisper of a sound that echoed ever so gently throughout the hollow room. The sound of a child’s call – small but with urgency. My eyes gazed the room looking for the small person that somehow was hiding in a house that should have been empty. The curtain blew softly as the breeze from the open window brought the crisp spring air into the winter stale room.
    From the corner of my eye I caught a small movement. Again, I heard the call. Not wanting to disturb the forces present in the room, I slowly tiptoed to the blankets thrown carelessly on the floor. Slowly I moved them. Searching for the wailing sound that was haunting the room with its need.
    As I made my way to the other side of the bed the curtain’s soft fabric slapped me in the face. Stepping across the breeze the sudden contact startled me causing me to lose my balance. I threw my hand out and let out a sharp cry as my shin made contact with the edge of bed. I felt myself falling and knew that the sharp pain of impact would consume me in less than a breath.
    I rolled on my side and groaned, trying to clear my head, trying to remember why I had entered the room and to make mental note to chastise Stacy for not making her bed. My eyes opened to the face of a small child staring at me. Eye to eye we studied each other both afraid to be the first to move. It was then that my consciousness returned.
    The child was the antique doll that I had lovely bestowed on my daughter for her ninth birthday. It now laid carelessly tossed next to the wall with its body protruding from under the bed in a once loved now forgotten fashion.
    Attempting to console myself I reached for my treasured item. As my hand made contact with the worn, stiff fabric of the doll’s dress I saw the doll’s eyes blink. I stared transfixed as the doll loudly proclaimed, “Mama.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Are we certain it’s a mechanical doll? I wouldn’t be. I’m going to the bookstore this weekend and buy a season or two of the Twilight Zone and start studying Rod’s stories all over again. I enjoyed the read, just enough of creepiness in your spinning of the tale to wonder about the ending.

    1. jhowe

      Great narrative PCG. I’m not sure if the daughter Stacey is still around, but I think probably not. I remember those dolls that opened their eyes and said, “Mama.” I wonder what triggered the doll to call out in the night?

    2. agnesjack

      I had one of those dolls whose eyes would blink at you. It was kind of creepy because the eyelids weren’t always in sync.

      I, too, was not sure if Stacey was still with us, but I liked the story.

  60. thejim

    Sorry I took the liberty of posting twice – Still not over the 500 word limit –

    The Harvest Doll

    The doll sat in the corner all alone,
    while Karen talked on the phone.
    With a giggle, a snort a laugh it made,
    It shook Karen, she was sore afraid.
    She hung up the phone with a puzzled look.
    The doll she crawled over to a book.
    She lifted the book and began to read.
    Karen stared, it was hard to believe.
    How this doll talked, she thought to herself.
    The doll crawled over and put it on the shelf.
    Mommy, Mommy, the doll said with a grin.
    Will you please hold me again?
    Karen screamed and tried to run.
    But her legs would not move, they weighed a ton.
    The doll crawled closer, what was she to do?
    But, Mommy, Mommy… I love you.
    Karen drug her legs across the floor.
    The doll was quicker and shut the door.
    With a knife in hand the doll moved in slow.
    Karen screamed, there was no place to go.
    The knife was raised and came down fast.
    Karen awoke from her sleep, safe at last.
    It was just a dream I am safe in bed.
    Then a hammer hit her in the head.
    The doll just laughed and said, goodnight,
    Who will be next on this All Hollows night?

  61. peetaweet

    “So this doll, you say, it talks?”

    I let out a deep breath, pulling on my thinning strands of hair. “Yes. Once again, it talks. I know how this sounds.”

    “Does it speak in English?”

    “Okay, we’re done here.” I swing my knees to the floor.

    “James, no, wait.” Rosa strokes the pink cheeks, just under the lifelike blue eyes, and then examines the ruffled cream colored dress. “Okay, what did the doll say?”

    “Fine, you want to know, Rosa? She had Linda’s voice. There, should we just commit me now, is that the plan?”
    She sits back, suddenly serious, closing her eyes and sighing. I feel bad for yelling at a family friend, one trying to help at that. But honestly I’m a little more concerned that I’ve lost my mind. We sit in silence as the minutes pass, the only sound in the room being our long nasally breaths. She sets the doll on the table.

    “James, I’m sorry.”

    I shake my head, ashamed at the tears snaking down my cheeks. “What am I supposed to tell Sophie? Do I tell her that her dead mother isn’t inside that doll?” I gesture towards the doll, laying face down, “It’s all she talks about now.”

    “And you got this where?”

    At that place on 7th. It used to be the furniture store. Now it’s an estate specialist or something. I brought it home a couple of weeks ago. Sophie didn’t care for it at first, but the next morning she came running out of her room, telling me that Mommy sang her the …the star song. I will count the stars. It’s their song. She was so excited. It’s been rough, this past year you know?”

    Rosa nods solemnly and then presses me to continue.

    “So I get her dressed. And the whole time she’s going on and on about the doll. She wants to take it with her but I tell her she can’t take it to school. I get her fed and dressed and drop her off. When I return home and open my laptop to get some work done..…The dolls on the couch beside me. And then I hear Linda’s voice, that deep raspy voice that I haven’t heard since she said goodbye…when I waved her off without paying attention.”

    More silence. I leave out the part about talking to her all day because I’m choking on my own saliva. I want to smash the dolls head. I want to smash my own head. But I can’t, I have my daughter to consider. And the doll is our only chance to hear her again.

    “James. Grieving is different for everyone. If she, or you, finds it therapeutic to have the doll, I’d say its fine. Just….just be careful that it doesn’t get too…”

    It’s times like this that Linda would grab my arm and sooth my temper. But Linda’s gone, taken from me one misty gray morning that I could never have back. I lunge towards Rosa. She flinches as I grab the doll and then turn for the door, ignoring our family friend—Linda’s friend, as she pleads with me to call her if I need anything. Outside, the air is frigid and I’ve left my coat upstairs. I leave it, clutching the doll, hiking back to my townhouse, daring anyone to say anything about it.

  62. thejim

    (OK This time I tried to make it as short as I could with minimal Grammatical errors but hey they are probably in there, and probably a 4th grade reading level)

    Karen thought she heard a voice. She did. It was coming from the hallway. She walked toward the sound of the voice. It became louder the closer she got to Katie’s room. She opened the door of her daughter’s room. In the center of the room she saw the doll talking and having a tea party. Fearful for her daughter, she quickly went to the kitchen and got a large plastic garbage bag. She ran back to the room and scooped up the doll. She then ran outside with the bag and tossed it on the Webber grill. Dousing it with lighter fluid she lite the bag on fire. Coming from within the bag were screams of pain and anguish. After the screams had stopped she put the lid on the grill and went back into the kitchen.

    Later that night John came home from work kissed his wife and went into their bedroom to change out of his work cloths. He came back into the kitchen to sit down to eat dinner.

    “Where is Katie?” John asked.

    “She’s playing in her room.”

    They both walked into Katie’s room. In the center of the room was the doll she bought last week at the antique store sitting in the middle of the room, dressed for a tea party.

    Karen gasped, and fell to her knees. The only thing she said before she burst into tears was, “Oh no, the grill.”

    1. thejim

      Ok I see it already –

      They both walked into Katie’s room. In the center of the room was the doll she bought last week at the antique store sitting in the middle of the room, dressed for a tea party.

      Better- Remove the redundancy They both walked into Katie’s room. In the center of the room was the doll she bought last week at the antique store, dressed for a tea party.

    2. calicocat88

      In such a short amount of words, you’ve made a great story. You got my attention, kept me asking questions, and then had my emotions flying with suspense, fear, and then lastly horror. There is just something freaky about dolls coming to life. You’ve nailed it with this story. Great job! BTW, I didn’t even notice the redundancy until you pointed it out.

        1. Observer Tim

          In a moment of shock and horror at destroying something, the most common reaction is to name what’s been destroyed. Inadvertently or not, this left me with the impression that Karen was concerned about the damage to the grill moreso than barbecuing her daughter.

          To send the other intention clearly, something like ‘Karen tore out of the room and down to the grill. “Katie!” she cried, bursting into tears.’

          Or that might just be me. It’s disturbing either way.