Paws & Pens: My Daughter

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HALLOWEEN EDITION!!! Here’s a short story to scare you witless so it actually feels like Halloween today 🙂 Enjoy!

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I love my daughter. I was devastated when she disappeared on a Tuesday night.

I remember waking up to a crash, before running to see if she was alright. Her bed was rumpled, sheets twisted in messy disarray, but she was nowhere to be seen. Ben had run after me, and stood in the doorway, hand on my shoulder.

It was late at night, so there was not a sound but my panicked breathing. My Emma. I stepped into the room, wobbly on my feet, and call out tentatively, “Emma?”

There was no reply.

“Emma?”

Ben paced the room, opening closets and checking in every nook and cranny.

“Emma?”

There was no reply. Ben left the room to check the rest of the house.

“Emma, it’s late. Come back to bed, sweetie,” I called, struggling to keep my voice steady. My heart was pounding like I’ve just run twenty miles. Badump. Badump. Badump.

“Emma, this is not funny. Answer me at once.” I heard the fear in my voice.

I was faced with silence. My mind is racing, trying to grasp at any explanations to reason her disappearance. Even to me, all situations were either ridiculous or fatal. I would accept neither. I breathed shallow breaths. It’s alright. She’s just being disobedient. It’s okay. She’s here.

I turned to face the door. “Ben? Have you found her?”

A muffled ‘no’ found its way back to me. The intruder alarm didn’t sound. The window locks weren’t picked. There’s no sign of a struggle. She must be in this house.

“Emma, honey, where are you?”

It was deathly quiet. I waited for a reply, my hysteria growing with every passing second.

“Emma?! Emma, please!” I half-screamed, my knees buckling in my despair.

“Shh. We are playing hide and seek,” a voice rang out.

I let out a cry of relief. She’s fine. She’s here. She’s here. “Emma, baby. Mommy will play with you tomorrow, okay? Come back to bed, now.”

“I don’t want to. I’ll lose,” she said.

I sighed, unable to be angry. “It’s late, honey. We won’t count this round. Let’s go to sleep.”

“I’m scared of the dark.”

“I’ll leave the nightlight on.”

“I don’t want to sleep alone.”

“You can come sleep with Mommy.”

“In the middle?”

“Right between Mommy and Daddy.”

“Okay, I’ll come out now.”

The closet door opened.

Maybe I had subconsciously questioned why Ben had not found her when he opened the closet door. Maybe I had known something was wrong the moment she was in the room. Maybe I had known, but I don’t remember now because all I knew in that moment was that instead of Emma, my seven-year-old daughter, crawling out of the closet, it was a doll.

It moved on all fours, just like how Emma would’ve, on stubby arms and legs. It was the size of an average doll, clad in a blue nightdress. Its porcelain face, eerily identical to Emma’s, turned in my direction, twisting all the way around on its short neck. Black empty holes, where the eyes should’ve been, bore into me.

Its mouth opened. “Mommy?”

I screamed.

 

“Emma, sweetie, let’s get you to bed,” I call for her.

It’s been a good day today. It was sunny out during the afternoon, and we got Emma a pair of ‘eyes’. She doesn’t like how they itch against her smooth porcelain, and has tried to pull them out twice now.

It’s been a month since Emma changed into a doll. Everything is surprisingly still the same. There are some times that she acts out, like that one night Ben and I woke up to her giggling in the bathroom, sticking a razor into her eye socket, or that other time she splattered the kitchen in red liquid that looked too dark to be ketchup, and too thick to be juice.

But it doesn’t matter to me, and it doesn’t matter to Ben.

We love our daughter.

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