Darling Dolly.

Daisy lay in her narrow bed, the blankets tucked in so tightly, she couldn’t move. She lay in the darkness, filled with terror, soaked in sweat as she listened to the tiny footfalls pattering around the room and making the floorboards creak.

Why would no one believe her? Why had she been locked away in this attic and left to rot? She knew the answer – it was punishment for what she’d done.

She’d always hated her sister with a passion that knew no limits. Yes, they were twins, but there’d never been that bond between them that other identical siblings had. Not that they were – identical that is. Oh they shared the same features, but whereas Dolly had been perfect, with golden ringlets and skin like porcelain, Daisy’s face was a pudgy caricature of her sister’s and her hair a tangled, straw-like thicket.

The only member of the family to give Daisy any attention was old Uncle Bartholomew. He was a strange man, living alone in a run down house filled from attic to cellar with books and various odd items he’d gathered on his travels through deepest darkest Africa. He’d talk to her for hours about the witch doctors he’d met, he even went so far as to show her his diary, filled with spells and recipes for potions and lotions.

One day when Uncle Bartholomew was busy in his study, Daisy took the diary from its place on the library shelf and opened it to one of the spells her uncle had often talked about.

At the top of the page, in his spidery handwriting, Bartholomew had written the fascinating word: Transmogrification.  Her eyes skipped down the page, committing the spell to memory. Ever since Uncle Bartholomew had shown her this particular piece of magic, Daisy had come up with a plan.

Up in the attic of her mother and father’s house were two china dolls, consigned to the dust and spiders because they were so ugly. Daisy had felt sorry for them, left alone in the dark, so she planned to give at least one of them some company. It’d been so easy, enticing Dolly up to the attic, persuading her it was all a great adventure. Once inside the cramped room, she’d slammed the door shut and to add to her sister’s obvious unease, held the candle just below her chin, so that her face appeared to be floating in the dark.

Dolly had begged and pleaded to be let out, but Daisy, reveling in her cruel plan, refused. When Dolly fell to her knees, hands clasped together in appeal, Daisy spoke the words of the spell.

Eerie, whispering voices filled the air. An ice cold breeze sprang up, causing the candle flame to stream sideways. Dolly gave a strangled cry and her eyes rolled up, leaving only the whites showing. She keeled over and the heels of her patent-leather shoes drummed on the bare floorboards. Then the candle went out.

Terrified by her own success, Daisy fumbled the door open and heaved a sigh of relief, when light from the landing window poured in. She stood in the doorway and stared towards where the two china dolls usually sat side by side. The hairs on the nape of Daisy’s neck stood up. One of them was lying on its back, one leg raised high, as if it was in the act of drumming its heels.

She never went up there again, at least not until many years later. Her parents never recovered from the disappearance of Dolly and both died of broken hearts a few years later.  Daisy, riddled with guilt, ended up alone in the crumbling house. But she wasn’t quite alone. The sound of tiny, running footsteps and the voice of her sister, calling her name, haunted Daisy’s every waking hour.

Now here she was, locked in the attic by grasping relatives only interested in her money. Just lately the footsteps had become more frequent and her sister’s voice louder, still calling her name. Then she felt it, a tiny, cold hand touched her throat. It’s fingers, surely too small to do any real harm, dug into her throat until she could no longer breathe.

When she woke again, hours later, her body felt curiously stiff. She tried to raise her arm and the joint creaked, as if from disuse. She touched her cheek. She felt nothing, as if her flesh had been frozen. Then as she continued to tap at her face, she heard the clink of china on china and realised what had happened.

Alone in the dusty, dark silence, the two dolls sat side by side. Across the room, an unmoving figure lay in the bed.

Daisy tried to weep, but dolls don’t cry.

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3 Responses to “Darling Dolly.”

  1. Delightfully creepy, Kate. Well done.

    Like

  2. Thanks Lindsey 😀

    Like

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