(Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl challenged readers to write a short story on Halloween based on a childhood fear. Here's mine.)
The Doll Without a Name
Gramma Lottie’s doll is not to be played with. That’s a rule. A serious one, not like when Grampie Joe says you can’t have any dessert and you really can. It’s a real actual antique, like in shops where everything can break.
They keep her up on the top shelf, all locked up, in the guest room. And when I visit I sleep in that room ‘cause I’m a guest then.
She looks really pretty, with a lacy blue dress and really long eyelashes. And I wonder if she’s got those fancy underpants that they used to wear, only I don’t know because I’m not supposed to touch her.
“Hey, you should probably let me open up that case,” I say one day while Gramma is making brownies. “I watched Toy Story last week, and it says that toys don’t like being in cages.”
“Cases, dear,” Gramma Lottie says.
“Yeah, whatever. What’s the doll’s name?”
“She doesn’t have a name,” Gramma Lottie says firmly, in the voice she usually saves for when I’m in trouble. Except I haven’t even broken a rule yet. “Because she’s not real.”
“Okay,” I say, because I don’t know why she’s using that voice, but it’s dangerous. Time to drop the subject. I start to leave.
“I never liked that doll,” Gramma Lottie says, all quiet.