Mary Kathryn Lauren Velho

Crying with her head against the worn hardware floor, Anabel silently strokes her doll’s blond hair. She remembers waking up in the morning and seeing that doll for the first time lying next to her. While she ran out to thank her mother and father for her unexpected present, she noticed that they were gone. Now she was here, sick and hungry waiting expectantly for her parents’ return even though it has been longer than a month since they left. Unlike Anabel, her parents were living their dream in Spain, 4,713 miles away.

* * *

Lily wakes up in a dark room. All she remembers was stopping at a rest stop on her way back up to Oregon after visiting cousins in California. Slowly she stands, her legs wobbling, and scans the room. When her eyes adjust to the darkness, she notices strange scratch marks along the walls, holes and stains on the wood flooring, and a lone doll lying stranded in a corner. Walking across the room, Lily picks up the doll to examine it. As she turns the doll in her hands, she notices bald spots and white marks on its skin. “Signs of love,” she concludes.

When she puts the doll back in its place, its hand comes completely off and a long sharp knife takes its place. Standing completely still, Lily stares at the armed doll in horror. Suddenly it stands and starts to move on its own holding out its knife, coming toward Lily. Lily jerks backward and hits her head on the wall behind her. She falls to her knees as the doll stops next to her and tilts its head upward–looking at Lily with one cracked eye. It stands still for a moment before plunging its knife into Lily’s thigh. After the doll retracts its knife from her leg, a steady flow of blood begins to flow, forming a scarlet puddle on the floor.

More dolls appear crawling out of corners and climbing out from underneath floor boards. Too scared to scream, Lily sits trembling while holding her bleeding leg. Stiffly the dolls walk to Lily who frantically backs herself into a corner sobbing. All at once the dolls lift their hands which fall from their writs in unison and are replaced by a variety of sharp objects. Expecting the end, Lily looks away.

She notices a small girl standing behind all the dolls which freeze in place as if awaiting a signal.

“Do you want to play?” the girl asks. Tilting her head to the side, her black hair falls to one side, revealing a very thin and pale face.

“No not really!” Lily sobs.

“I’m Anabel,” she says plainly. “Are you scared?”

“Yes,” Lily admits.

“Good,” she says with the same expressionless face as before. “You’re gonna be my new doll.”

“WHAT?” Lily screams before slumping against the wall unconscious.

Lily wakes in a blindingly white room with Anabel hovering over her. Anabel wears a torn white nightgown which is stained with blood. Upon seeing Anabel, Lily jerks upwards then screeches in pain as she clutches her crimson leg.

“Do you hate me too?” Anabel asks.

“YES!” Lily screams. “I just want to go home!”

“Don’t worry,” Anabel consoles. “You will love me soon.”

The room fades back into the room where she first woke up and she is again surrounded dolls. Anabel stands in the same place as before, staring intently at Lily. Anabel tilts her head downward. A shadow covers her face so all Lily can see is her mouth which is curved slightly upwards. Abruptly the dolls lunge at Lily and plunge their knives into her. Lily screams as blood splatters against the walls and floors, drenching the dolls and Anabel who seems unfazed by the desperate wailing.

Lying with her head against the kitchen floor, Anabel strokes her new doll’s red hair while humming a lullaby her mother used to sing to her. She forgets her parents who left her to die years ago and cuddles her doll under her chin and smiles.

“I love you Lily,” she says softly.