By Alexis Lantgen
“You don’t need to pretend or deny anything, Alma. I know the doll’s been talking. I’ve heard her, too.”
My little girl’s eyes get big and round, surprised. The wooden body in my hands gives a faint twitch, the kind of thing no one notices unless they know what to look for.
“She whispers,” Alma says, her voice soft. She absently puts a finger in her mouth to suck on.
“And she’s not always saying nice things,” I say. The doll is bent over in my hands, face down, arms and legs dangling, for all the world like an ordinary toy.
My baby nods, glaring at the doll. “She’s mean!”
“And I won’t let her be mean anymore,” I tell her. “No mouthing off, no nastiness, no whispering threats or wickedness. Mommy had to punish her.”
I shift the doll so Alma can see its face. There’s a round scar in the wood where an eye should be, a hole where I chipped and drilled and dug the painted-blue eye out of the doll’s head. I’d clamped it firmly to the workbench in the garage so it couldn’t move but working on it was uncanny. I felt odd thumps like something pulsing, and a strange warmth the doll emanated somehow.
My daughter touches the scar and lets out a relieved sigh.
“You showed her!” she says with a giggle. The wood shivers in my hands, the way trees sometimes tremble during a fierce storm.
“That’s right, I did.” I smile at her, my tough baby. I’m glad she didn’t throw a fit over a broken toy.
“Now all she’ll do is cry a little, like a baby doll should.” I give the doll one last warning squeeze, then hand it back to my daughter. Alma spins around the room, shaking the doll with a touch of maliciousness then dropping it on the floor a couple of times.
“Let me know if it acts up again,” I say. “I’ll drill out the other eye, and maybe a few other things as well.”
A smile spreads across Alma’s face, a little sunbeam for my dark heart.
“Yes, mama,” she says. She skips away, dragging the doll behind her. It makes a faint noise, like a whimper or a creak in the wood.
Check out Alexis’s first book Sapience: A Collection of Dark Science Fiction Short Stories on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N74LCGH
Preorder her next book, Saints and Curses, on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07RQQKM9G
Interested in learning more about her? Find her here: Website: https://www.lunarianpress.com/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/alexislantgen
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/alexislantgenauthor/
Thanks for your post Alexis!