Bodies come and go, but spirits last forever
The room was painted light pink. It occupied two young people: a man and a woman. They had been married for a few years, and had prepared for the birth of their little girl, their first child. It seemed so long ago to them; the day the wife found out she was pregnant; the man was happy too, or at least they were at the time.
But as they removed the decorations, the face of the woman was sad and dull. It was melted and gray as she removed the pink, yellow, and glittering flowers and butterflies. The husband, though not cheery, was still firm and almost emotionless. Just a month ago his wife went into labor, ten hours later they would come out of the hospital, empty handed.
“I heard her crying,” the wife whimpered to her husband. “I swear I heard her crying. The doctors even said that she was crying too.” She crinkled the decorations in her clinching fists.
“Baby, please,” he held his wife. His face; a lamp under a thin peach colored rag, firm, lively, and calm; such a kind expression he wore. He held her close to him, trying to sooth her. His shoulder was under her chin and his neck was against her cheekbone, which forced her to not look him in the face. “It was a hallucination caused by what you know about childbirth and what you expected to hear. She’s gone, baby. What we need to do now is prepare for adoption.”
“But I don’t know if I’m ready,” she choked out through tears. “I can still feel the pain of labor.”
“Adoption takes a long time,” her husband tried to convince her. “By the time we get the boy here you’ll be over the other baby.”
“Lilly Lizzy,” she heaved out of her chest. “That’s what her name would have been.”
“Yeah, yeah,” her husband patted her head. “But we’ll have a young boy, repainting the room will be easy, and we can just return the girly stuff and use the money to buy boy toys and clothes. We did want a little boy, maybe this is for the best.”
“What’s for the best?”
“That Lilly was stillborn,” he removed her from his chest and looked down upon her. “I think it was God telling us something.”
“Maybe,” she wiped her tears away. “I can still hear her echo in my mind, her gorgeous voice, even in her brutal cry.”
“SARAH!” her husband shook her. “Stop talking about her! That’s not how you get over something! Just forget her! Forget about her! Forget about her!” he shook her more and more violently.
“I’m trying,” she bawled.
“Hey, hey,” he held her face in his hands. “Stop crying.”
She shuddered, trying to stop her tears and her throat from squeezing, but failed.
“I said to stop crying,” he became stern. His grip on his wife’s face and throat began to stiffen and his fingertips started to slightly dig into her cheek, jaw, and neck.
“Okay, okay,” she looked down, her breath trembling harshly, thinking of her daughter’s cries which must have been false. It wasn’t real. It was a mirage. She didn’t cry. She was dead. It was no one’s fault other than God’s, and even then, at least she’s happy with him. Still with the decorations in her grasp, she began to fold them away.
“Be careful, now, I want to be able to get as much money out of this stuff as we possibly can,” he removed a hook from the wall. “Even if it means reselling it for a higher price than what we paid for online or at a yard sale.”
“Isn’t that illegal?” she asked.
“Sarah, please,” her husband laughed. “It’s not illegal to take advantage of other’s stupidity.” He looked over at a shelf. It was filled with porcelain dolls.
They all had curly blonde hair that differenced in shapes and sizes. Some of the curls were loose, some were tight, some were long, and some were short. The dolls themselves also varied in size, some being as small as the palm of the father’s hand and one being the size of an average little girl. Their dresses were all different colors. Most of them had long dresses but two or three had shorter dresses. Only one of them had a dress higher than her knees. The dresses’ colors ranged from the darkest blue, to the lightest purples, to a deep burgundy, to the lightest pink, to bleach white. One thing other than the hair color was similar amongst the dolls: they all had blue eyes.
“God these things are disturbing!” the husband snarled.
“Why?” Sarah asked. “I think they’re gorgeous. And adorable.” A smile came over her face as she stroked the dolls’ dresses slowly and delicately.
“But look at their soulless eyes!” he exclaimed. At that moment he noticed something. Something about the tallest doll. “Sarah, did that doll always have that film over her eyes like that?” he asked.
“What?” she looked at the doll. Her eyes widened upon seeing that the doll’s eyes were covered in a thin layer of white over her pupil and iris. “Oh, dear, I—I don’t know.”
“What do you mean ‘you don’t know’?”
“I don’t know, Julian, we got them a long time ago, she might have always had that.”
“Go to the computer and check,” Julian ordered.
In fear, Sarah ran to their large, old computer to see the pictures they saved of the doll. Grazing her eyes over the pictures she returned with an answer he didn’t want to hear.
“She didn’t always have that,” she stood at the door nervously.
“DAMNIT!” Julian threw down his glass bottle of water. He took deep breaths, facing the window with his back to his petrified wife. “After you clean this up, get me my tools, I’ll fix the doll.”
“Of course dear, of course,” she walked away. Sarah knew that a man should never treat his wife this way, nor should anyone treat anyone the way he did to her, but she couldn’t do anything about it. She just had a baby, she came from a poor family, and had very little to live on alone.
Angrily but still carefully, he ripped the doll from the shelf. He sat outside of the room on the stairs. His fingers touched the eyes to see if it was just dust, but it wasn’t. Not only was it distorting the eyes, but it seemed to be under a layer of glass, which made Julian extremely fuming.
“Son of a bitch!” Sarah heard from the kitchen where she was getting the washcloths. “What is this?”
“Darling,” Sarah walked upstairs with the cloths. “What’s going on?”
“This is impossible!” he dug his fingers into the doll’s cotton stuffed stomach. “How did that film get in there?”
“I don’t know, sweetie,” Sarah tried to lift his spirits with a suggestion. “If you look it up you can replace the eyes and we can return it.” She paused for a minute. “Or we can always return it now for a slightly lower price—”
“No!” he stood up. “I’m fixing this damn thing if it’s the last thing I do!” he stomped into the baby’s room and hurled the doll on the bed.
“Julian!” she ran to the doll. “Be careful with her, you could break her!” she held the doll against her chest, like a child. The doll’s back faced Sarah while the doll herself faced Julian. Her curly hair dangled slightly across her face, but just two or three curls draped over her nose, chin, and the longest of the three on her lip. The other half of her hair that wasn’t hidden behind her head cloaked over her neck and a little bit of her shoulder. With every breath Sarah took, her curls bounced and changed a little bit every single time, to where they never looked quite the same.
“I have super glue! I could fix things like that at any time!” he slammed the bed against the wall, causing everything against the wall to shake, including the doll shelf. Afterwards he hyperventilated and calmed himself.
Sarah’s eyes stared nervously over the dolls, but she calmed when the shaking stopped. With the doll still in her hands she opened up the door and faced her husband. “Julian, please,” she began to cry. “Maybe we can keep them, I love dolls, and they make me think of Lilly—“
“Don’t mention that name in my presence!” he snapped. “And I hate dolls! They will leave this house no matter how long it will take!”
Sarah closed her eyes in silence, only opening slightly to look down at the large doll she held in her arms.
“Such soulless eyes,” Julian murmured. “Such a soulless body, it looks like it’s looking right at me.” He stared into her eyes until he left for the computer room. “I’ll be back after some research.”
Still holding the doll in her arms, Sarah talked to her. “I still love you, Lilly, and I know that you weren’t stillborn, I just need to convince Julian that. I want to have someone interrogate the doctors, because I know they did something to you.” Tears came to her eyes.
No matter how she turned the doll’s body, naturally it seemed she was looking at the doorframe, where Julian had left from.
The same day, after half an hour of research, reading, and measuring...
“Okay,” Julian cracked his knuckles. “There’s a craft shop nearby, I’ll go get the eyes from there. All I’ll have to do is take the doll’s head off.”
“Please be careful when you do that, okay sweetie,” Sarah looked up at her husband.
“Stop being so damn emotional over some doll, Sarah,” he rolled his eyes. “I’m just going to take her head off, and if I’m so obsessed with getting all of my money back, to where I basically know how to fix a doll after being shattered on the ground, I think I’ll try my best to not hurt— ‘her.’” He mocked his wife then left her in the house without the doll from embarrassment of actually giving the doll a pronoun, even if it was to be taken as a joke.
After the door slammed, Sarah looked at the doll. She went over to her and stroked her cheek, and kissed her nose. “Good luck,” she stood up and walked upstairs, unknowing that the doll was looking at her swaying body as she clanked up the stairs in her hard heeled shoes.
Julian returned around ten minutes later with the same blue eyes that the doll had. He entered the house and yelled:
“Sarah! Get down here right now!” he was enraged by what he saw.
Sara ran down the stairs, fearing what had happened. “Yes, dear—”
“What did you do?” the doll’s arm at the elbow was broken off, but oddly perfect. Not a single shard of porcelain was separated from the two pieces but the edges were jagged, much like a ripped piece of paper or a puzzle piece.
“I didn’t do anything, I swear,” Sarah defended herself. “I left her there.”
“So, she just fell, broke her arm, cleaned up the shards of glass around her, and then just laid back down there?”
“Well, no, maybe there was a crack there to begin with and it broke off,” she suggested.
“Get yourself upstairs,” he ordered his wife without facing her. Julian was looking at the doll, which was facing him, with her blue, film covered eyes.
He went to take care of her in the baby’s old room. Before taking care of her eyes he tried to glue the arm back together. Not having the proper tools caused it to take much longer than it could, and should, have taken; especially since he couldn’t afford an injury to the doll that could be noticed on examination. Fixing the arm took him until about eleven o’clock at night, and by then he was too tired to do anything that could involve possibly breaking the doll. Instead of trying to put her on the shelf he just laid her down in the baby’s bed, her body sitting up in it with the gate off to the side.
Down the hall was his bedroom where his wife already was. He walked across the room to the arch of the door. To his surprise, after he walked out of the room and turned off the lights, he closed the door, though there was no reason for him to. "Creature of habit, I guess," he thought to himself. The corridor to his room seemed longer than normal. Every step he took he felt there was another step added until the end. A thump from his foot echoed, and after that he heard the echo of both of his feet. They echoed back and forth until all he heard was the impact his sole made with the hardwood floor. The noise was so loud he couldn’t even hear his own thoughts, if he had any at the time.
Suddenly a feeling of paranoia rushed over him. Soon the footsteps didn’t sound like his, though he tried to convince himself otherwise. Something in his mind kept telling him to turn around, while the rest of him said that, “There was nothing behind him, so why look?” He decided when he would get to the door of his bedroom he’d turn around. Finally after what seemed like ten minutes even though it was only ten seconds, he turned around. Everything was fine, except the light of the baby’s room was on. The door was still closed, but the light shone through the opening under the door.
“I didn’t turn the light off,” Julian mumbled to himself irritably. His hand smacked himself on his forehead and he groaned. “I don’t need to take care of it now; it’ll be fine until tomorrow. I don’t want to go through that again.” By the time he got into bed, his wife was awake but only slightly leaning up.
“Sweetie, pie, what are you saying?”
“Nothing, I just left the light of the baby’s room on,” his feet crawled to his bed as he removed his housecoat. Feeling the nice cold sheets against his skin during the humid, early, fall night would normally be nice, but it only sent shivers up his spine.
“Why didn’t you go back and turn it off?” Sarah asked.
“I’m getting paranoid, that’s why,” he told her.
“Oh, yeah, that happens late at night, or when people get tired, I’ve noticed,” she put a hand on his shoulder, which made him jump. “Do you want me to go turn it off?”
“Don’t waste your time, it won’t kill anyone,” he yawned. “And tomorrow I’ll turn it off and keep it off until we adopt the boy and by the time we sell all of that girl crap we could use it to pay off the energy we’d waste tonight.”
“Okay,” she rested against her back on the bed. Silently she stared at the ceiling, pondering, and waited until Julian seemed to fall asleep so she could as well, but her thought couldn’t wait another moment. “Babe, can I ask you something?”
“If you don’t now you probably won’t remember so sure, why the hell not?” he still faced the wall away from his wife with his eyes closed.
“Why is it that you are so—so—determined to have a boy and get rid of the girl stuff?”
Julian groaned and turned towards his wife. “I always wanted a little boy. I can’t deal with having a girl.”
“But, baby, I—I wanted a girl,” she whimpered.
“No one cares, Sarah, it doesn’t matter what you think, okay?” he growled. “I absolutely do not want a girl, and that’s all that matters. You didn’t mind having a boy, so why is it such an issue for you?”
“Goodnight, Sarah,” he turned away from her again and stayed on his side of the bed.
Sarah also turned away from the center of the bed, looking down solemnly, thinking of her little girl, Lilly Lizzy.
Julian woke up before Sarah did. He looked down upon his sleeping wife with tired eyes. Normally on a day like that day he’d wake her up to go make coffee and breakfast, but something seemed to draw him away from her. Quietly he got up out of bed and walked to the door. The morning was colder than the other mornings had been, and Julian noticed.
Across the hall he walked. It felt shorter this time, but something kept hitting him like small arrows to his body’s follicles. He opened up the door and looked in. Without turning the light off; he looked in the center of the room, where the doll was, but not in the bed.
Originally the bed was against the wall, and it still was, but the doll was not there like Julian had placed her. She was resting on her stomach on the floor. Her head was facing upwards, towards the door. The arm that was broken before was broken again, in the exact same spot with the exact same line, but along with that her leg was broken at the knee and ankle. Just like the arm, the cracks were jagged but solid shapes and didn’t have a single separated shard or edge from the glass like it should have.
Sarah was asleep, but she was awoken by Julian’s screams.
“Sarah!” he exclaimed. “Sarah! Sarah! SARAH!”
She sprung up and ran across the hall to Julian. “Julian, what is i—” she looked in and saw the doll. “What happened?” she shrieked. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything!” he bellowed. “I came in and it was just like that! This is insane! I just fixed its arm yesterday!” he walked over to the doll, stomping his feet on the ground as he approached her. “How? Just—just—how?” he held her good arm in his hand, dangling her from it.
“Sweetie!” Sarah ran towards him and took the doll from his loose grasp. “You can’t hold her like that, she’ll break!”
“It’s already broken, Sarah!” he shook his hands slightly above his head and jerked towards her.
“But do you really want to break her any more than she already is?” she held her like a child, her breast against the doll’s chest and stomach. The doll’s head was turned around and staring at Julian’s face.
Julian looked at her lightly powdery, pale face with rosy lips and slightly blushed cheeks, though she seemed paler than before. Her smile was very tight but only slightly curled upwards. Even with her smile, her eyes looked sad looking upon Julian, or maybe that was just how he saw her.
“She looks disappointed in me,” he mumbled.
“Pardon?” Sarah questioned.
“Nothing,” Julian shook his head. “Anyway, give it to me and I’ll take care of this—mess.”
“Okay,” she handed off the doll to her husband, again, like a real child. “Take good care of her, I’m going to go to the grocery store, but I’ll leave once you’re done in case you need help.”
“Sure, thanks darling,” he held the doll like a child, like she did, but then stiffened like before. "Wow, the human animal is so pliable that they will mirror someone in some of the smallest detail. I know that this doll is only a doll, but yet I hold her like a child. Well, she is delicate, maybe it’s not a bad idea to hold her like that? No! This is stupid! I’ll be wasting energy on something that means nothing!" He held her like he did before and picked up her limbs. “I’ll take just a few minutes. It’ll be done in no time.”
“I’ll still wait,” Sarah yawned. “I’ll go make myself some coffee. Want some tea?”
“I’ll make it myself,” he turned away from his wife and grabbed the glue. Sitting in his chair he held the doll, lightly squeezed the glue out and rubbed it softly against her arm with the tip of the applier. With the other half of the arm in hand he softly placed it on the edge and pressed the two pieces together. He held it there until the glue seemed to harden. Then he moved to her leg and did the same thing, making sure he didn’t accidentally get glue on the tag around her ankle. Instead of putting her in the bed he put her back on the shelf. “You can’t beat me,” he pointed his finger at the doll. She was facing the wall across the room. “I will get your eyes in your skull properly, I will return you, and you will be out of my life forever. You hear me? For-ev-er!” he walked out of the room and down the stairs. Seeing his wife at the coffee table, he sat right by her.
“You’re done already?” Sarah seemed pleasantly surprised. “Well, if that’s the case I’ll head out to the store.” She stood up and began to walk away with her lidded coffee cup.
“Does it have a name?” he asked quietly.
“Excuse me?” she turned around. “What did you say?”
“The doll; does it have a name?”
“Well, no,” she thought for a moment, looking up at the ceiling then out of the window before looking at her husband. “I think there’s a tag that all of them have. Probably around her wrist, neck, or ankle.” She took a sip of her coffee.
“Oh, yeah,” he pondered. “I remember seeing a tag on her ankle, it was held to her with a gold ribbon or something like that. A string maybe?”
“That’s probably it. If you actually want to know just look at that,” Sarah turned around and walked to the door.
Julian leaned over so he could see her and the door. “You know, I don’t care about the name, I was just wondering if you gave it one.”
“I guessed that, sweetie,” she unlocked the door, went outside, and locked the door behind her before leaving to her car.
Julian rested himself on the couch while drinking his tea. With the warm tea near his mouth and running down his throat, soothing him, he began to fall asleep.
When he woke up, he didn’t know how long he had slept, but his wife still wasn’t home. A sharp scream broke the silence and ripped him from his sleep. He sat straight up and looked around. What he heard was a distant cry, a baby’s cry. He didn’t know where it was coming from. At first he thought that it was maybe a neighbor’s baby or someone walking by, but it was much too loud and didn’t stop. With shaking legs he went over to the bottom of the stairs and looked up, towards the baby’s room. The crying seemed to be getting louder. His whole body began to tremble as he stepped upstairs. "What could be up there? I mean, really? Maybe I’m just hearing things? Did I leave the television on upstairs? The radio?" He kept on coming up with what he could have done to cause the crying sound. Approaching the closed door he reluctantly turned the knob.
The moment he touched the knob, the crying stopped. It was a sudden death of the noise. Something made him want to enter anyway, while he would normally just turn around like nothing happened. With closed eyes he opened the door and entered. Everything was normal, except for one little thing—the doll was on the ground. When Julian saw her, he sighed of relief when he noticed that her limbs weren’t broken. That relief would be crushed when he’d turn her over and see that her nose was broken off of her face.
Julian’s jaw chattered slightly, he couldn’t control it, and he didn’t know why it reacted that way. He stared at the doll’s nose and face. Just like before, there wasn’t a single missing shard that was separated from either piece. His breathing deepened as he held the doll’s head in one hand and her nose in the other.
A loud click broke him away from his hypnosis caused by the doll. His wife had come home.
“Sweetie!” she called out. “Are you home?”
“Y—y—yes,” he stuttered. With the doll in hand he took her to the baby’s bed and laid her down onto it. In a trance he walked over to his desk in the room, got some glue, and lightly layered the porcelain with the glue. With the nose in between his fingertips, he turned around, went over to the door, and placed the nose delicately onto the doll’s face. Instead of going downstairs he sat down and stared at the doll. “What do you want from me?” he asked. “Why are you torturing me like this?” something reflected in the doll’s eyes and he got an image. All he did in response was take a baby blanket and throw it on the doll so her face, and especially her eyes, were covered. He acted like he was smothering the doll before he slammed her down onto the bed. “You know nothing, you saw nothing!” he ran out of the room and down the stairs.
“Julian, what’s going on?”
“I’m taking a walk, Sarah,” he grabbed his hat, coat, and boots before heading out of the door without putting them on. “Deal with it!” the door slammed so hard the whole house shook.
Ignoring her husband’s odd behavior, Sarah went back to placing the groceries where they needed to be. She looked up towards the stairs. Something within her seemed to attract her like a magnet, but she didn’t go upstairs because she had so much more to do.
Julian walked through the thick and cold fog. He would normally have a scarf but he didn’t have time to grab it.
The closest things he could see were some trees and houses, which were merely silhouettes around him. Every time he breathed out he could see his breath for almost five seconds before it vaporized, seeping into the fog. Normally it would only stay there for maybe two seconds or so, but it stayed much longer at that time. Outside the smell was not there, much like how sounds could be muted. Because of the cold air there was no way of smelling the air properly to describe a scent.
Though it was about six o’clock at night, he was the only one in the street. It was very quiet, so quiet that Julian could hear his footsteps echo and bounce off of the trees and houses. He had nowhere to go, but the landscape was familiar to him. Through the fog he recognized a local preschool, one that his wife and him planned on putting their child in before, well, she died. He stopped for a while and looked at it. All he could see was the small playground and the medium sized, one floor building. The sign on it said, “Judy Jane’s Preschool, for children ages three to five,” with the children’s ages being below the preschool’s name and in a smaller font. Normally the letters would be colorful and enticing to kids and adults, but now it was all just black, white, and grey.
Julian began to feel a sinking feeling, realizing that he may not have a chance to talk to the teachers, talking about how his little girl was so artistic and they were so proud of how she was expanding in her thinking like all children would. The idea that he created it and made a difference in the world, not just with a child that he raised, but one that had half of him in their flesh and blood. Someone to add to the bloodline. With a sulk in his step, and his neck bent down, he began to walk away before another noise interrupted his echoing feet.
Although it was obvious that the school was closed, he heard a little girl, laughing, playing, and having fun in her little world. It spooked Julian, but it made him happy for a second hearing such a cheerful noise after hearing the crying from before. The sound became less charming when it not only echoed, but rose in volume.
He heard every little detail. The girl’s little, rubber bottomed tennis shoes touching the ground and her ball bouncing on the cement court as she ran to toss it to get into the basket. Then he heard the small crack and thump of the ball circling the hoop and go in. Another sound of happiness was exerted from her, but it was that of excitement and pride. "She made a basket, just like the boys always did. Maybe now she’d be accepted by them the same way the girls accepted her too." He heard her clapping fast and enthusiastically as her cheers turn to laughs, but still echoed the same way his steps did.
Even though it seemed like there was an apparent source, Julian heard it all around him. At first he believed that the sound was coming from the school, but after listening for a while it was hard to tell. All of the different noises and reactions to what the little girl did started to cloud his ears and hit him with many diverse, distinguishable waves. He was drowning in a pool of noise that only got deeper and deeper. His body began to convulse slightly as he seemed to try to restrain himself. While he still shook, his body dropped to the damp ground and curled into a ball. He accepted his death. All he was able to do was look up at the grey sky and cry. He wasn’t able to stand, he wasn’t able to move, he couldn’t do anything; he felt trapped.
Julian held his ears and bowed his head until his eyes were on his knees. He silently cried on the ground, trying to hold back so no one could hear him. Suddenly he felt something squeeze his shoulder.
“Darling,” his wife Sarah was behind him.
He jumped up before he turned around while still sitting on the pavement. His vocal cords refused to work and yet he still tried desperately to talk.
“Are you okay,” his wife held a hand over him.
“I’m going home,” he stood up and circumnavigated quickly past Sarah.
“Dear,” before she could get out another word, Julian was homeward bound, to take sanctuary there from the noises.
The whole day was filled to the brim with paranoia for Julian. Every moment he felt like something was right behind him, trying to spook him or something innocent like that, but it was more to him. To him it seemed sinister. He felt like something was trying to pounce on him and kill him. About every other minute he whipped his head behind himself, just to see that nothing was there or just his wife not even facing him.
Once night came he couldn’t be any less happy about going to sleep, but he knew he had to.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk, darling?” Sarah faced Julian on his left side with an arm around his stomach.
“I’m sure, dear. Now go to sleep,” he stated bluntly while he gazed at the ceiling. Lying motionless on his back, Julian breathed deeply to try to calm himself.
The night was dead. It was silent like many other nights, but it was also very still and stiff. As Julian lied on his bed, he could hear what little happened, all the way from the wind chimes on the first floor, to the creaking in the wood on his bed as his wife and him breathed and moved ever so slightly. He was wide awake and his eyes barely blinked as he looked at the little bumps in the ceiling from the plaster.
Thud, thud, thud! He heard outside of his bedroom, which made him twitch slightly.
Oh, no. he thought. Well, okay. Maybe it was nothing. Maybe I’m just hearing—
A high-pitched squeak and laugh was woven through the thuds. “Daddy, Daddy, you can’t catch me!” there was a soft cry from outside, by the stairway.
Julian still couldn’t convince himself either way, whether he was just imagining it or not. He looked over at the window, and just thought, trying to get the voices out of his head.
While the voice didn’t say anything, it still made noises; sounds as if it was running up and down the stairs, running on the first and second floor, and the differences between running on the carpet, tile, or wood floors. There were also laughs admitting from the presence.
Taking a deep breath, Julian sat up and twisted his body so he was sitting on the side of the bed. His body hesitating stronger than it ever had before, he got up and made his way to the baby’s room. Secretly knowing what the noise was coming from, he entered in the baby’s room. On the bed he saw nothing. The doll was gone. What was left was the tag and ribbon he had talked about earlier with Sarah. Inching towards it nervously, he bent down over it and picked it up. On it was written:
“Susan doll company proudly introduces:” whatever had been the original name was scratched out, covered with the name: “Lilly Lizzy,” which would have been his daughter’s name. His fingers twitched and shook with his hand as he stood up and dropped the paper. He could feel his breathing intensify as sweat poured down the sides of his face. Nearly crying, he heard the noises downstairs fade as if whatever was downstairs had started to enter into the basement.
He quietly walked out of the room and down the stairs. Once he entered the kitchen he decided to just stand there. His curiosity was driving him to do things his mind normally wouldn’t want him to do, but he wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on. In his brain he prayed that it was just some sick joke and that everything would be okay, but something deep in the center of himself knew that it wasn’t, and that it wouldn’t be. With the room being as quiet as it was he could hear every creak of the wood floor, and critiqued himself on every little noise he made.
There wasn’t a single noise as far as his ear could reach. No shadows, no voices, which meant that there was nothing. Though Julian knew that it wasn’t going to be over, he thought it was over for the night. As he went to go back to bed he heard a giggle out of the corner of his ear and saw something from the corner of his eye on the right side of his vision. He quickly turned and saw a small shadow by the basement door. It ran downstairs once it saw him look over. In fear he grabbed a frying pan, knowing that there was a knife near him as well, but grabbed the first thing he saw out of instinct.
Slowly creeping towards the door, he opened it and looked down the dark hallway. Since he had been in the dark long enough he was beginning to develop a slight night vision which helped him immensely when looking down the stairs. At the very bottom was the same shadow. It ran to his left into the basement, still giggling like before. Not wanting to go down there, but needed to in his eyes, he slowly took the steps down. He decided that he’d go to the bottom of the stairs and maybe a meter or so away from them. If he didn’t see anything, or the shadow showed up but went farther, he would just go back to bed.
Finally he entered the basement area. The air was cool and crisp, but still musty since neither of them had really taken care of it and it was mainly for storage anyway. Julian blinked multiple times to keep his eyes from drying up in the dehydrated, dusty area. Taking a few steps forward, he saw nothing, he heard nothing, and he most definitely didn’t feel anything. When he was at the meter length, he just looked around a little bit more for reassurance that the floor was empty.
It seemed that the area had slightly warmed up a bit, but it still felt empty. To Julian it didn’t matter, all that mattered was that he couldn’t feel anything from the shadow.
Just as he was thinking of turning around, he could feel something. An aura that made him feel like something was behind him. Out of instinct, he swung around with the frying pan in his hands and outwards slightly. He felt something collide with his weapon and a loud thud. After the adrenalin rushed through him and died down, he looked at what he had attacked. On the ground rested his wife, with a bleeding gash in her head.
Julian dropped the frying pan. His breath trembled and his hands quivered as they reached towards his face. With an open mouth he covered it with his unsteady hands. He couldn’t think, couldn’t act, couldn’t do anything other than look over her and feel the cold spike of realization over what he had done. Once he was out of his frozen state, he ran up the stairs and called 9-1-1.
Sarah was pronounced dead at the scene.
After an investigation, they found that it was a complete accident. Julian was not sentenced to jail, and there wasn’t even a trial. He agreed to everything he’d have to pay to her family and anything else that could have been involved. At that point he didn’t care, he just wanted to be left alone by everyone and leave his old life behind.
Once the ordeal was over, he looked to contact the man he bought the dolls from. The moment he found the larger doll, he’d sell them back at any price. At that point he didn’t care, he just wanted them gone. After ten minutes, he found the cellphone number of the man and went to call him. In the middle of dialing the number he heard a knock at the door. Before calling the man he approached it, not knowing who it was. He looked through the peephole of the door and saw a young woman with long blonde hair and in a light blue dress. Julian didn’t recognize her but something about her seemed slightly familiar.
“Hello,” he answered the door, opening it slightly so only his head stuck through.
“Why, hello, good sir,” she smiled, a small crease digging into her full cheeks. “I’m from the Judy Jane’s Preschool, you know, the place two blocks away.”
“Of course, of course,” Julian put a hand to his forehead in slight internal pain. “I feel like it was just yesterday I was down there.”
“Yes, well, I need to ask you something,” she turned around. “Is this little one yours?”
Down by her right side, a little girl held her calf in fear. She was facing Julian and looking up at him, but she didn’t seem to be looking at him like normal children do. Confused, Julian opened the door wider so it was at the same width of his shoulders.
“She says she’s yours,” the woman held her head through her thick, curly, blonde hair. “She’s blind, that’s why her eyes have the film over them, in case you don’t know but might know her real guardians.”
“Lilly Lizzy?” Julian mumbled.
“Oh? So she is yours?” the woman looked on him warmly. “What’s your name?”
“J-J-Julian,” he stuttered.
The little girl lit up and hugged his leg which was close to the woman’s by then, making it easier for her to find him without stumbling too much. “Daddy, Daddy!” she looked up and faced Julian with a smile. “I knew it was you.”
Written by DEFSeattle