This short story was inspired by a creative writing prompt from WritersDigest. Lila stumbles upon an antique store that sells a rare, old doll. She buys it for her younger sister. One afternoon, Lila begins hearing voices.
The Living Doll
Lila was alone in the house.
Her younger sister was at school, and their parents wouldn’t return a month from now from a business trip abroad. Lila’s music was playing softly from her headphones as she finished cleaning the small living room. Perhaps she shouldn’t have procrastinated as much as she did on chores.
It wasn’t until this morning did she notice the dirty dishes piling up in the sink, the thin coat of dust on the furniture and wooden floors, and the mountainous pile of laundry that should have been done last week.
There was a brief pause in her music as her iPod switched to the next song on her playlist. And that was when she heard it: a very faint and childlike giggle.
It was so soft that she shrugged it off, believing to have imagined it. But then it came again… much louder than the first that she swore she heard it as her music played. She pulled off her headphones, letting the cold headband rest against the back of her neck.
Lila scoffed softly. Time to lay off the horror movies, she thought. Just as she was about to place her headphones back on, a chill crept down her spine when she heard the muted, raspy call of her name.
She spun around. Her lips parted slightly when she noticed the door to her sister’s room was ajar. Lila swore it had been closed and locked when she finished cleaning it a few hours ago.
She pushed open the door and was relieved to find everything still in its proper place: the folded clothes in the white basket waiting to be put away, the blankets neatly folded atop of the bed… the porcelain doll sitting courtly on the nightstand.
The marionette had been a late birthday present from Lila to her sister, and she had gotten it for a great price, too. The owner of the old antique shop she had bought it from had said how much this doll was loved by his late granddaughter, and he needed to find a good owner to take care of it. Lila was not a big fan of dolls, even at a young age. There was something about their eyes that made her anxious. But her sister would love it.
Hand on the handle, Lila was just about to shut the door until she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. A slight raise of a handmade her turn swiftly at the innocuous doll. It was just how she saw it a few seconds ago.
She folded her arms across her chest and walked towards it, her eyes slightly narrowed. Its clear green eyes seemed to be fixed on her light brown ones.
“This is ridiculous,” Lila muttered.
She turned away but a sudden forceful tap on her shoulder made her yelp and spun around in fear.
She was alone.
“Lila! I’m home!”
A wave of relief washed over her when she heard the call of her younger sister, Ema. Lila came out of the room and greeted her with a smile. “Hey, kiddo! How was school?”
Ema squirmed out of her jacket and replied, “good.”
“Are you hungry? I’ll make something to eat.”
“Yeah! I’m starving!” Ema jumped into a tall, white chair facing the kitchen island. She noticed the door to her room was wide open. “Did you go into my room today?”
Lila took out a frozen cheese pizza from the freezer. “Oh, uh, yeah. I… er thought I heard something.”
“Was it Juno?”
Lila stared at her sister. “Who?”
“Juno… my doll.”
Lila was silent for a moment. Ema had told her multiple times that Juno was talking to her. And Lila had always brushed it off. “Oh… no, I don’t think it was her.”
Ema cocked her head to the side. “Are you sure? Because I talk about you to her. She often says she wants to meet you.”
Lila angrily pushed the pizza into the oven. “Dolls don’t talk, okay? So… be quiet about it.”
“Just because you can’t hear her doesn’t mean she doesn’t talk! I’ll prove to you that she can!”
“Ema!” Lila shouted as her sister jumped off the chair and into her room. “You don’t need to prove anything! I believe you, okay? Just… come back please!”
But Ema emerged with the doll in her hands, and Lila’s brows furrowed as she stared at it more closely. Its eyes were blue, the same colour as her younger sister’s
“Wasn’t… what kind of a doll can change its eye colour?” Lila said quietly.
Ema smiled widely, and as she spoke Lila could hear the voice she heard before merge with hers, “one that is very special… my dear.”
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