“The Doll,” by Amaya Duran

Mar 7th, 2018 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

She was Pocahontas in her school play this year. “Because I’m dark,” she told us. Her hair is black and hangs straight down her bony shoulders. Her hands are small and soft as she pulls me through the hall. 

Mariella. She’s my blood and two years older so I listen.

“There.” She points to the life-sized Raggedy Anne doll that was gifted to me from a family friend the day before. It’s sitting against the wall on Mariella’s day bed. Her eyes staring at me—warning not to follow my cousin’s advice.

Mariella chews on the corner of her mouth weighing what my next move should be. She knows I’ll do almost anything she tells me to. She, Mario and Nicholas—her two younger brothers—have become the closest things to siblings I’ll know and we operate under a definite hierarchy.

I look at my cousin waiting for her to say something.

Mariella sighs. I recognize this one. It’s the one she sighs when Nicholas, the youngest of us four, asks too many questions. Yes, I’m sure this is my Iceepop, Nicci. It only has your name on it because I wrote it there to remind you not to eat it! A sigh. 

I don’t know if it’s the devil or a ghost, Nicci. Why does it matter which? Either way there is scratching coming from your closet. Another sigh.

Understanding the impatience that follows these releases I decide not to ask any questions. Instead, I spin on my heels and move to leave the room. Mariella grabs my elbow to stop me.

“All the hearts say ‘I love you’. All of them,” with her chin she gestures me further into the bedroom, but I don’t want to leave her side. Mariella pushes me. “Apurate, Amaya. Hurry.”

Finding myself heavy with the urgency of her tone I cross briskly to my Raggedy Anne. After one last pleading glance at my cousin who mercilessly waves me to continue on, I slip the shoulder of The Doll’s dress down.

Mariella is right! The heart is there, but it’s empty.

Nowhere is it inscribed that she loves me.

Normally I wouldn’t give this a second thought. It wouldn’t have crossed my mind as anything other than a unique characteristic if Mariella hadn’t initiated the unfolding drama by stealing me away from licking the cake batter from a bowl in the kitchen by stating, “We have a problem with Anne.”

I’m not sure where she learned to talk like this, probably from watching Lifetime movies, but now as I carefully watch my doll’s face, her eyes menacingly change and I know Mariella was right. We do have a problem, and after having seen The Exorcist the previous night there is no doubt what that problem is:

Raggedy Anne is possessed.

I turn around to Mariella hoping for guidance, but all I see now is her widened eyes.  They get bigger and bigger until they’re swimming in a pool of whites. I’m too scared to find out what has paralyzed my normally brave cousin. I barely manage to squeak out a, “What?”

“She blinked at you!”


“She blinked!”

I let my mind play over the words. Blinked. My doll—she blinked. Dolls don’t blink. I scream. Mariella responds with one of her own.

She takes off running and, not wanting to be left behind, I chase after. She runs back down the hall and past the living room.

Luckily, I have a basic idea of what to do in bad situations.

On our way out the door I grab the telephone. We shut the door quickly behind us. I’m crying as my hands shakily dial 9-1-1.

“9-1-1. Please hold while I transfer your call.”

“I can’t,” I gasp through a dry mouth. “Please! She’s trying to kill us!”

“Who honey? Where are you?”

My doll. She’s alive! My mom is inside! Please! You have to save her.”

Mariella grabs the phone from my sweaty hands and hangs up. A hysterical laughter erupts from the mischievous smile that has spread across her face.

“Calm down. You’re so stupid.” She says.

I don’t understand.

“It was a joke. Duh.” She whaps my head with the back of her hand.

I feel a horrible surge start in the back of my throat, like electricity, and it ends in the small sweaty fists that are now balled at my sides. I’m angrier than I can ever remember being. It seems my mother is too when the cops show up ten minutes later.


Amaya Duran lives in Seattle, Washington.

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