When I was a little girl I had a doll collection. A series of porcelain dolls. Rag dolls. Puppets. A china doll. Just the typical dolls most little girls had. They were scattered around my room on cabinets, in closets, and my bed side table. My parents got rid of those dolls when I was 7. I’ve almost never been in the same room with a doll ever since. For over 20 years.
My recollection of what happened is hazy at best. I’ve tried hard to bury it and I rarely think about it at all. But given what’s been happening lately, I feel I have to confront those old memories.
I remember lying in bed in the dark, looking at those dolls. I know how it sounds for those reading this. How ridiculous it seems. But I could swear that they were aware. That they were looking at me. It sounds like nothing strange. Just a little girl’s imagination playing tricks on her. But then things got weirder.
One morning I woke up and the dolls had been moved around in different locations. My small porcelain doll in the purple dress was always kept on my cabinet. It had a red bow on the front. The dress was decorated with various types of flowers. The doll had its hair in a pony tail that hung down beside its left shoulder. When I woke up in the morning, the doll was on my bedside table, right beside me. Even as a little girl I didn’t really believe these dolls were moving. I thought maybe I switched them and didn’t remember. Or maybe my mother moved them for some reason in the night.
So the next night I tried something. I didn’t like the dolls looking at me, so I turned them all to face the wall. When I woke up in the morning, they had all turned around again, facing me. This is the first time the whole situation made me really scared. Until then, I was more confused than anything.
I decided to ask my mom if she’d been touching my dolls in the night. She kind of laughed and said “Why on earth would I do that?” I laughed it off as well. But the truth was that I was now terrified. I wanted nothing to do with those dolls. I put them all in a large box and hid it in my closet. It was the first night I slept well in weeks.
When I came home from school that afternoon, my mom sat me down and said she wanted to talk. “What’s happening with your dolls?” she asked. “Why are you hiding them away? Why did you ask me if I was moving them before?”
I decided to just tell her the truth. “My dolls are scaring me. They’re moving in the night. I don’t want them in my room any longer.”
My mom smiled. She told me that my imagination was just playing tricks on me. She said she’d return the dolls to their shelves, but that she’d sleep with me in my bedroom that night, to show me it’s ok. I didn’t like the idea of having the dolls back out, but I reluctantly agreed.
We left the door open that night just enough to let a little bit of light in. My mother teased me a bit. She joked that the dolls were moving. I actually laughed. My mom being there made me feel better.
But my mom fell asleep almost right away. I felt alone again in that room. I couldn’t help but stare at the dolls. A china doll was almost right beside me on the bedside table. The doll in the purple dress was directly across from my bed, on a cabinet.
I looked at the purple doll. I tried hard to convince myself that nothing would happen. That I was just being silly.
But then the doll raised its head and looked right at me. It blinked its eyes. I would like you all reading this to imagine it. Is there a doll in the room you’re in right now? Or a statue? Anything with a face and eyes? Stare at it. Now imagine, right now, that it slowly turned its head and looked at you. That its eyes opened and blinked.
I was horrified. I slowly touched my mom to try and wake her up. I looked to my left, to where the china doll should have been. But it wasn’t there. It moved. Somewhere. I looked back up to the purple dress doll. It had moved closer. I could see it ever so slightly inching towards me.
I screamed. As loud as I could. I remember my mom waking up and trying to calm me down. She eventually started yelling at me. Shaking me. But I wouldn’t stop screaming. It was piercingly loud. Eventually my dad came into my bedroom. I remember my mother and him yelling at each other. Trying to figure out what to do. My dad picked me up, tried holding me. But I screamed. I clawed. I bit. I had completely lost control. I remember my dad yelling at my mother, trying to convince her of something. She reluctantly agreed.
She raised out her hand and slapped me hard across the face. My screaming stopped for just a moment. Then the piercing wail continued. She raised out her arm and did it again. Harder this time. I finally stopped. “The dolls mommy. The dolls.” I cried to her.
“Oh I’m sorry. We couldn’t get you to stop. I’m so sorry.” She hugged me.
And the dolls were taken away. Never to be brought out again.
It’s been sort of weird since then. My parents and I have never talked about that night. Not once. The dolls were taken out of the house. No new ones were bought. None were ever brought in. It was an unspoken agreement between us. We all knew what happened. We all knew dolls could never be in my presence. But we never spoke of it.
I’m now 29 and have never slept in a room with a doll. I’ve barely even been the same building as one. I wasn’t even certain that those memories were real or not. But the phobia set in. I still had nightmares about them.
Once when I was 11 I went to a friend’s house for a sleepover. I hadn’t really considered that she might have dolls. I don’t know why. It just slipped my mind for some reason. But when I got to her bedroom, I saw that she of course had a lot of dolls. I immediately went to the washroom and pretended that I was sick. I called my parents and had them pick me up.
After graduating high school, I thought about moving away to University. But then I thought that I might be stuck with a roommate that has a doll collection. Or that even other students in the dorms would have them. No. I couldn’t risk it.
I’m married now, and even my husband doesn’t really know the full story. I’ve told him on many occasions that I “don’t like” dolls. He just shrugs it off and accepts it.
But my husband and I also have a little girl. She’s 7 years old now. Over the years she’s received a few dolls as gifts. What can I do? She’s a little girl. She’ll have dolls. How can I keep dolls away from a little girl? They stay in her room, and I try to rarely go in there. Things were always fine in the daytime, even when I was a little girl. I’m embarrassed to say it... but I’m not sure if I’ve ever been in my daughter’s room in the night time. I didn’t really believe the dolls would move. I just convinced myself it was a phobia. There’s even a name for it. Pediophobia. Lots of people are scared of strange things. This was my strange phobia.
My daughter was preparing for a school play and my husband helped her pick out her costume earlier that day. I hadn't seen it yet. My husband had let me know that he would be home very late.
My daughter called down to me right before her bedtime. “Mommy, come see my costume.”
I walked up to her bedroom and opened the door.
The lights were off for some reason. My eyes took a moment to adjust.
And then I saw my daughter. She was standing perfectly still in the center of the room. Not moving an inch. She wore a purple dress. A red ribbon on the front. Her hair was in a pony tail, hanging beside her left shoulder. Her head slowly… oh so slowly… started turning. To look at me. Her eyes blinked. My daughter started inching closer.
I slammed the door shut.
I’m downstairs now, writing this out. I have absolutely no idea what to do next. I think I’m in shock. I can’t just get rid of my daughter like I did with those dolls all those years ago. And what on earth is happening? Is she possessed? Is it just a coincidence? I really have no idea.
But I hear her now. She’s coming down the stairs. Very slowly. I’m fighting the urge to scream, like I did when I was a little girl.
“Mother” she’s saying. It doesn’t even sound like her voice. It doesn’t even sound human.
I need to submit this now.
Pediophobia is real and it's terrifying. But I'll have to overcome. For my daughter.