A few years ago, a pretty young lady called Julie was going through her attic during a spring cleaning.

While she was rummaging through the boxes, she came upon one that had been labeled: 'DOLLS'.

As a young girl she had a collection of dozens upon dozens of them. So, for nostalgia's sake; she opened it.

Through her digging she found one she'd never seen before. Or at least, one she couldn't recall ever owning.

There was something very off-putting about it...

It was dressed in a torn linen shift dress which looked like it had been originally white; but it had been yellowed with age.

The hair had been at some point at time a fiery shade of red; but now it was an ugly and gnarled rust colored ball tangled up with things like lint; and small mothballs.

These characteristics were of course not very appealing in the least. But not nearly as much as the other thing that was off about the doll.

When she turned it over, she stared down at a bisque face contorted into what could only be described as a maniacal, laughing and dimpled expression, and had no eyes.

Another thing that struck a peculiar chord was the fact that there seemed to be no damage to the void eye sockets. She was uneasy at this point; slightly shivering at the morbidity of its tiny painted lips, which curled up into a grimace of a malicious; rather than being set in the soft and expressionless rosebud lips that dolls like this were supposed to have.

Julie, then for a reason that wasn't beknownst even to her, took the doll down with her.

For the next few months the doll lay facedown in an empty drawer in the guest room. Because of her being the supermom that Julie was, the doll was forgotten completely. She had more important things in her life that she had to care about.

And so it laid there, forsaken in the darkness of the drawer.

Waiting to be found again...

Julie's parents' marriage had come to an unfortunate end in their advanced age, and so Julie and her husband welcomed her mother Audrey, to live with them with open arms.

Audrey moved into the guest room.

It didn't take long for her to discover the doll that had been tucked away in the top drawer. Big mistake. When she found it she held the doll upside down by its feet and stood there, her feet feeling rooted to the ground.

Julie eventually came and found her mother standing there in her strange tranceish stare at it; her eyes boring into the doll's fiendish face. When she saw her mother like that, it scared her and she took the doll from Audrey's hand. She blinked as she was broken out of her stupor.

The room felt cold and Julie could hear her own heart beating in her ears.

"Where did you find that?" Audrey asked with her voice heavily shaking.

"In some boxes. Why?"

"I thought I got rid of that—thing the minute I got it."

So, Julie told me that they both went outside (leaving the doll inside) and both had a cigarette... The first that Audrey had had in nineteen years. Her daughter stared at her, worried. She exhaled and began to explain, sitting down on the porch swing; staring straight ahead.

"When you were just three months old, we moved into a small house in a suburb just outside of New York. We lived there for only two months, and I met the woman who lived next door. Her name was Jennette—I don't even recall her last name, but we quickly became acquainted, and just as quickly became close friends. Almost every day we would sit, just the two of us, on a swing kind of like this, and talked for a whole afternoon.

Anyway, she had a little girl who inherited her mothers fiery red hair. If I remember correctly, her name was Leslie... Yes that was her name. On one afternoon, whilst in the middle of a deep conversation a man with a briefcase and of generic description stepped up on the patio. I remember what the exchange was. Not word for word but I remember it was a bit like:

Hello ma'am, I'm Mr. Rikard-Gates. I am a custom doll-maker and am new to the area. May I interest you in a brochure?"

He produced a pamphlet from his briefcase and handed it to Janette who, with genuine interest, looked it over. I saw some pages, entailing how he would make the doll to have any shade of hair desired, the same dimples as a person, the same everything.

She told him in an odd flat and upfront tone "I want one. Let me go get my check book"

She opened the screen door and came back out in just a few moments. I saw that the check she gave him was already completely filled out.

Then he asked to see her daughter.

She yelled into the house calling Leslie. I remember hearing her little steps running to the door and her bursting out of the screen door with a cheerful look on her face. She just glimpsed at the strange man, when she was blinded by a Polaroid that he shot of her. And then, just like that he left.

I had a rocking chair in front of the window that I would feed and rock you to sleep in. I'd turn off the light so you would go to sleep faster and I would occupy myself by looking outside. A week and a half after seeing the doll-maker, I was rocking you to sleep like I would always do, when I saw the silhouette of a man carrying a collapsible ladder.

It was him.

He began to look around before he went to the side of the house and set his ladder up. He set it up so he could reach Leslie's window. I saw as he lightly rapped on the window and the tiny hand that opened it. I saw him offer her something and as he went down she climbed down along with him. That's when he took her hand and led her away."

Audrey began to sob, but when she gained some composure she continued.
"I saw him take her away. I knew that I needed to do something but... I was too scared to. I was afraid of telling Janette what I saw... because I thought about what would happen if she assumed it was me? I couldn't turn to the police either for the same reason.

When I saw Jeanette next, as police officers interviewed her, she was sobbing. I was watching from the same window. The guilt ate me up inside and I still had the urge to tell... but I never did... I was too much of a coward.

Two days later, I was sunning myself while reading a paperback when a delivery van left a box on Jeanette's door stoop with pink lettering. The mail person knocked and waited for a while, but since there was no response the postman shrugged and left.

I turned my attention back to the book. Or I tried to. But flashes of the doll-maker kept coming up in my mind. I knew what that delivery was; and it was unnerving. I stayed out thirty minutes more and looked up from my book when I heard Janette's screen door open.

She looked so worn down; she hadn't switched out of her long bed-dress even though it was two in the afternoon. Her red hair that had usually hung down to her back in intricate waves was frizzed out and stood out around her head like a ginger red cloud.

We made eye contact for a moment, her eyes being the saddest thing I have ever seen in this world, even today. That was the closest thing to the most fathomable pain a person could carry in their eyes. She turned and went back inside.

It was a few days later that your father and I woke up to the sobs of Jeanette. We looked outside that cursed window to see Janette pounding the ground with her fists and her husband, standing as if he were frozen there. Even the detectives and the police officers were wearing expressions of extreme distress.

The whole day I was restless, I couldn't find anything out and there was a terrible ripping feeling in the back of my mind because I had already known the moment I heard Jeanette's sobs. It wasn't until the paper arrived the next morning that I saw the headline:

Murdered Six Year Old Leaves a Community Grieving

Six year old Leslie—has left the entire suburb in a daze. Leslie's body was found mutilated and was discovered near the bank of a nearby creek. A criminal investigation is underway."

It was only a day later that Jeanette used a gun in the murder-suicide of her husband and herself. I was the one who discovered them after a day of not seeing any sign of either of them. I found the door unlocked and let myself in. I went upstairs and eventually found myself in their bedroom looking at their bodies. A single bullet shot through her husband's eye left him lying on a blood soaked pillow. It looked like she shot him in his sleep. And she had a bullet perfectly in between her eyes, which stared up at the ceiling in an infinite gaze. The pistol was still clutched fast in her hand.

This is when I called the police. I used the phone they had on their side table and found a paper that was neatly folded and deliberately placed for someone to find it. While I waited for the police to arrive I read it. Jeanette had wrote the first part, and her husband the second part. They said they were sorry and they went on to both talk about how they simply couldn't go on without their daughter."

Audrey looked into the distance with tears pouring down her wrinkled cheeks.

This was when Georgie and Nathanial were yelling hyperactively and bounced out of the front door holding the doll. They swung it around violently and asked Julie, "This is ugly! can we smash it with our tool kits!?" before she could answer Audrey answered them instead

"Yes boys. Smash it. Smash it into dust."

They ecstatically left the doll on the porch in front of Julie's feet as they went to fetch their hammers. She tried not to look at the doll's face but instead ignored it and wearily looked around.

The boys bounded up the steps and without hesitation brought down their hammers on the doll's porcelain head. It broke open and the boys immediately stopped in shock.

Two withered and shriveled orbs with a dark circle scarring in the middle sat beside a mummified ear, the tip of a nose and a full set of finger and toenails in a dusty heap before Julie's feet.