DOLL | By: Terry collett | | Category: Short Story - Dark Bookmark and Share


“The doll sat in the chair next to my bed,” said Alice. “It had sat there since it was given to me by my mother in 1952. It had been my grandmother’s doll before that. It was an old doll; dressed in old clothes. Clothes that never seemed to have been washed. The doll itself was grimy looking; dirt seemed to have invaded the hair on the head. Once when my mother was out, I stripped the doll of its clothes, bathed it in a bowl of warm water and soap and scrubbed and scrubbed. It seemed cleaner after that, but the clothes were still dingy, so I dressed the doll in other doll’s clothes that had come with other lesser dolls, dolls I had cast away in the back of the toy cupboard once I had acquired the old doll. She looked smarter, more alive, more pleased with herself. My mother was so angry when she came home, saw what I had done that she beat me, threatened to take the doll away with her saying I was not a fit child to care for such an old doll. However, she relented, put the doll in the chair by the bed, said it was to stay there and once she washed the older clothes I was to put them on the doll and leave her be. The doll seemed to look at me quite sadly; the dull eyes seemed to come alive, stared at me with a hint of tears in the eyes. Once the old clothes had been washed my mother watched me as I dressed the doll in the washed out clothes, then took the other doll’s clothes away. The doll sat in the chair for days on end, staring at the wall opposite, gazing at the picture of Christ on his cross. Some nights I took her to bed with me, laid her head on the pillow beside me, felt her body against my arm. Sometimes I’d tell her secrets, kiss her forehead, hold her in a hug close to my cheek. Once my father saw the doll in my bed, threw her on the floor, said it was no place for a toy that bed was for sleeping, not for toys and playing. Once he had gone I picked her up, sat her gently in the chair, climbed back into bed. It from there in that chair that the doll witnessed many things, things that no doll should have to witness, but which it did. Some nights if my mother was out working, my father would creep into my room, sit on the edge of my bed, whisper words that to my drowsy ears seemed utter nonsense, then he’d touch me, move his hands over my body, then he’d get into my bed, and in the blackness of my room, apart from the light from the street outside, all the secrets began, hushed, dark, secrets, dirty secrets, mother- mustn’t-know kind of secrets. And in the dark the doll stared and watched, her head turned away from the painting of Christ on his cross, focussed on my father and me, her eyes eating it all up, her unmoving painted lips seeming to open and wanting to say something, wanting to tell him to stop. But she didn’t and he didn’t. Until one day my mother came home early, caught him in my bed, screamed at him, pulled his hair, dragged him out, spat at him, and he ran off into the passage; she slammed the door and glared at me. She shook me, slapped me and slapped me, and for a moment, thought she was going to murder me in my bed, but she stopped, stared at her hands, sobbed deeply as if she might choke, as if all her body would convulse to a dead stop and she’d be dead on my bed. After what seemed hours she got off the bed, went out, closed the door with a soft thud; all was silent. The doll sat looking at me, her dull eyes staring, her lips seemingly parted, mouthing words that came from nowhere, that said nothing , that went nowhere, but somehow filtering into my head whispering, I saw, I saw, I’ve seen it all before. Then she turned her head, gazed sadly at the picture of the tortured Christ on His battered cross, as I watched her eyes glaze over dull and lifeless.”

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