That doll gave me the fucking creeps, but Annie wanted it as soon as we walked into the charity shop so I had to buy it.
“It’s name is Annabel! That’s my name, mama.”
“Sure is, sugar.”
I grimaced as I touched its dusty dress and waxy skin. Touching it freaked me out, but my girl rarely asked for anything, so I carried it to the checkout with lots of reluctance.
Annie disappeared upstairs with it as soon as we got home. The way she carried it up, so the doll’s face stared back at me as she ascended the stairs sent a shiver down my spine.
I shook off that weird feeling and set to making dinner before Greg got home.
Her sweet little voice drifted down to me as I made spaghetti.
“You’re so pretty Annabel.”
I heard her hum a little.
“I don’t think mama would like you doing that.”
Something about her tone made me pause. Not scared, just… tentative.
“Don’t, Annabel. That’s not nice.”
I laid down my spoon. Feeling silly for my worry, but unable to stop the uneasiness that solidified in my stomach.
“Ow!” She gave a whimper and I found myself at the bottom of the stairs before she spoke again. “You’re hurting me. I don’t want to play anymore.”
There was a long silence.
“Baby? You alright?”
She didn’t speak when I called. I waited As the silence lengthened. I was already starting up the stairs after a few moments wait.
Her door was off to the right, just after you reached the top of the stairs. It was open just a crack.
I started to press a hand into the door when I heard her whimper again. I pushed it in and found the room empty.
“Annie?” My heart was a racing, the hair on the back of my neck standing on end. “Where are you?”
I inched into the room, unreasonable dread filling me up. Maybe she wasn’t in here? Maybe she went down to the master bedroom to play instead.
“Annabel? Where are you? Tell me where you are.”
“I’m here, mother.”
I blow out my breath. She came out of the closet, the doll in her hand.
“Why were you in the closet?”
“Because that’s where Annabel wanted to be. That’s her new home.”
Her voice was off, but I couldn’t figure out why. I looked at her, her little face clear of distress if a little pale. She stared up at me, something I couldn’t place in her look. It was intense, almost calculating.
The doll looked… different. Her face less waxy, more real. I did a double take as I realized it looked almost exactly like my Annabel now. Her mirror image.
I was about to ask if she’d looked like that in the store when the garage door opened. Greg was home.
“Put Annabel away and come down for dinner.”
“No. I want to play.” Her voice was hard.
I blinked, startled because she never talked back. Composing myself, I tried again. “Annie, I said put her away and go down for dinner. Don’t make me tell you again.”
Her little face contorted in a way I’ve never seen. Horrific, malice written over every inch of her usually sweet features.
“My name is Annabel.”
She advanced in me and for a moment, I thought she’d hurt me. Her hands formed claws, the nails sharp and deadly.
“My name is Annabel.”
She hissed at me and I shrank against the wall.
She changed back as Greg climbed the stairs. The evil aura disappeared and she was a sweet girl again.
I could barely move as she threw a look at me and to the door with the doll in her arms. I looked at her then at the doll, and for a moment I swore I saw Annabel in the doll’s face.
“Come along, mother.”
Fuck. Something has happened to my daughter.