I saw a game on Facebook last week. It’s a riff on “Elf on the Shelf” called “Doll in the Hall.” Basically, you use a porcelain doll to fuck with your kids during October. It sounded like a blast for me.
I stopped at Goodwill while running errands and found the perfect doll. Pretty unassuming, blonde hair, blue eyes, the eyelids that move with it’s head, and most importantly, it could stand on its own feet. I dirtied up her up a little more while everyone was out of the house.
My husband is already afraid of dolls. My kids side eye these kinds of dolls, too. I decided to play it up, I’d been given the doll by my elderly mother who thought the kids would love it. I plopped the doll into a glider chair and went about my usual afternoon routine. They wouldn’t miss it when they came in from work and school.
“Jen,” my husband, Kurt, called, “What’s this dirty thing on the glider?”
“Just a gift from my mom!” I called out nonchalantly.
The kids were equally bothered by its presence, but didn’t protest when they found out it was from Grammy. I could barely contain my excitement. A full month of shenanigans to terrorize my family.
I decided to sow the seeds of fear gently. The first night, I laid her on the floor by the chair. When everyone got up, I asked who was up in the middle of the night playing with her. Everyone was obviously clueless.
The next night, I stood her in the middle of the hall so everyone would have to walk by her or move her. This time with a little more feeling, I demanded to know who kept playing with the very thoughtful gift from Grammy. Again, everyone was clueless, but I could see the cogs turning in their eyes.
Kurt was going to be first. The girls would waller in an anticipation of what was to come, but he had been rationalizing it already. I sat her on his nightstand, looming over him in the dead of night. I feigned grogginess as I shook him.
“Kurt!” I whispered, “Kurt wake up. What was that?”
He tried to turn back over. I shook him again. He huffed and turned on his lamp.
His scream woke up the girls, and a few neighbors.
“What the fuck, Jen?” he yelled, “What the actual fuck is wrong with you?”
I don’t know how, but I stifled the laughter that filled my soul.
“Kurt, I was asleep. How the hell would I have done that?”
He was skeptical, but he wasn’t positive I was the guilty party. He threw the doll away that night.
I smuggled her back in after he went to sleep and stashed her in the ottoman. I think Kurt was onto me though. When I got up to start breakfast, she was sitting at the kitchen table like a concerned parent.
I screamed, and everyone came running. Kurt shook his head.
“Cut it out. You’re going to scare the girls.” he growled in my ear, scooping her up and taking her back to the trash.
Kurt isn’t a practical joker. He’s a straight to the point guy. I couldn’t help but think he was giving me a taste of my own medicine. So, I did what any loving wife would do.
I threw her into the garage before I left for work so I could terrorize him later.
He beat me home that night, which was unusual. I pulled in the garage and as soon as I entered the house Kurt was on my ass.
“How’d you find the goddamn doll in the dumpster behind my store?” he demanded.
“I pulled it from our trash to pay you back for this morning.” I admitted, “But, I went to work, not dumpster diving across the city.”
“That’s bullshit, Jen.” he said, pointing at me.
Then, I saw the doll. Out of the corner of my eye, I swear I saw her toddle across the kitchen table. She stopped and turned, facing us through the doorway. I must have been slackjawed.
“What the fuck are you looking at?” Kurt demanded.
I simply pointed, too stunned to say anything.
He turned to look and went from a light tan to a sickly white.
“What’d you do with her?” I asked without letting my eyes off of her.
“I uh,” he stumbled, “threw her in the neighbors trash so you wouldn’t find her.”
Then she tumbled to the floor with the gravity of watching a glass full of water crash to the floor.
We both screamed. My oldest daughter popped out from behind the door frame, laughing hysterically.
“I got you!” she howled.
We nervously laughed along with her. The lifeless porcelain eyes looked up at me from the cold tile floor without moving the head. Rebecca was as clueless as I was when I bought it.
“You sure did!” I squeezed through teeth I was attempting not to clench.
I picked the doll up by the back and turned her over to face me. The little jaw slid down and exposed nubby amber colored teeth.
Then, it made a noise. It wasn’t exactly words; it was more like a sigh with more wind behind it.
I tilted her up and the eye lids popped open. There seemed to be something different about the eyes. The doll itself was different, too. It was warm and heavier than I remembered it.
I unbuttoned her dress in the back, then pulled the rusty zipper that it concealed. It pulsed and oozed. The doll was filled with organs and meat. My husband and daughter stood nearby, horrified and gagging.
I threw her in the fireplace and hit the switch to ignite the gas. She wailed for minutes without reprieve. Then she stopped, and stared at me. I pulled the glass doors shut and jammed the poker into the handles.
“I’m… fun… for… you…Jen…” she groaned with a mocking tone.
The flames raged hotter and larger. They began to degrade the metal fixtures that held the glass doors in place.
“Kurt, get the girls out.” I started without breaking eye contact with her.
Flames danced out of the glass doors as they cracked and pieces fell from the framing. The fire climbed the mantle and took residence on the walls. I grabbed the fireplace shovel and came unbearably close to the flames.
All it took was one strong jab. The porcelain head fell onto the hearth.
She shattered. What looked like tiny intestines writhed in the wreckage.
I diced them with the shovel. The flames in the fireplace died down. I tried my best to douse the flames on the wall with our fire extinguisher. The firemen did the rest.
They didn’t find any evidence of the doll. I sat down today to put this out for everyone from a hotel room that we’re staying in while waiting for the house to be inspected and approved for our habitation.
On the window ledge are two little blue eyes staring at me. I can’t help but wonder where the rest of her body is, and what she wants from me.