She had been a wonderful friend, had Barbara. Dependable, loyal and most importantly, always happy to play for hours and hours on end. I’d been able to confide in her and rely upon her since the moment we met – something that I had never felt able to do with anyone else before. She really was my best – and at times my only – friend.
I remember the day we found each other so vividly in my mind like it was yesterday – although almost eight months have passed since. It was a Sunday, and Mr Fisher had just put out all of his new stock. On the shelves sat row upon row of dolls with wigs in blonde, chestnut, auburn and red, their piercing plastic eyes in acid green, ocean blue and chocolate brown.
As soon as the clock struck ten, a gaggle of children had piled through the door, a free-for-all of little boys and girls on the hunt for a toy – nay – the toy that held the value of weeks and weeks worth of pocket money. They, like me, were on a mission. Perhaps today would be the day I’d find the right one for me.
It was a fresh May morning and the sun reflected off the glass shop front, falling right where I stood, bathing me in a strobe of warming, yellow light. On the occasion when the door opened, there was a slight but noticeable chill that permeated the little shop, and I was thankful every time it shut again with a gentle click.
Our eyes had locked onto each other’s within what felt like minutes, perhaps even seconds. Barbara had the same coloured eyes as me –ice blue – and I was drawn to her as if there was no one else in the room. She was the friend for me – I knew it instantly. And turns out that I was right.
Ever since that Sunday morning, we had barely left each other’s side – we’d been to school together, played together, even slept side by side. It was a great comfort knowing that I had someone there for me, someone who enjoyed my company and who’d shown me more care and affection in eight months than I’d seen in all my time on Earth. The other girl’s had never appreciated me and I’d always struggled to fit in with the others – for reasons still unbeknown to me.
But none of that mattered anymore because at last, I had someone. I had Barbara. And Barbara had me, Darla.
Lost in my thoughts, I almost don’t hear the noise at first. Distant thumps that are growing closer and closer with each passing second. By the time I am fully focused on the present moment, it is almost too late. The thumps are louder now and rattling the bedroom that surrounds me, causing the photos that line wall to quiver with energy.
The brass door knob begins to twist. The door is moments from opening.
In an instant, I snap up straight, smooth my polka dot dress and assume the position I had been in when Barbara had left the room twenty minutes prior. My dark, synthetic curls perfectly positioned about my porcelain face and my plastic eyes unblinking from their china socket.
I’ve always been a fan of horror and mystery – although I find myself watching more horror films rather than reading/writing horror stories. Well, there is no better time than the present to start dipping my toes into a new genre, so here I go.
Unsurprisingly, I saw this image – the doll in particular – as rich fertile ground for a horror story. I was keen to avoid anything too gory or crazy, just something quite subtle that could leave the reader feeling a bit spooked. What also caught my attention was the obvious bond/closeness between the little girl and her doll – a theme that I have used in the narrative.
The way I went about spooking the reader was to keep the narrator ambiguous right through to the final sentence, with the hope that the reader would assume the story was being told from the point of view of the little girl – duh toys can’t think and talk, that would be ludicrous! I then used the final sentence to flip the story on it’s head and reveal the real story-teller, the doll. A subtle mind game, but I am hoping it is effective nonetheless! Let me know what you think.