--HEY, PLEASE DON’T TELL ME THERE’S NO HELP
…I had house guests all of last week and consequently did no writing. Last night, however, I wrote a piece for a project I’m part of called “Scabies” where a handful or writers were selected to take part by writing a story tagged from the last person’s piece. Mine ended up being kind of freaky. Not sure where that came from, but I had this image of random doll parts strewn on a bedroom floor and, well, here you go:
While cleaning Rose’s room, she found doll parts scattered under her daughter’s bed--heads, arms, legs, and torsos; a menagerie of plastic limbs. They’d been ripped apart. The fake eyeballs had even been cored out.
The discovery was unnerving, like when Sheila had found gay pornography on her now ex-husband’s computer.
Sheila had never seen the dolls before and where Rose got them was anyone’s guess. Rose was only five.
Michael had Rose for the weekend. He took her places, “grand adventures,” he called them. He showered her with goodness and afterward when it was time to drop her back here, Rose always pouted, going silent, sometimes for an entire day. Sheila was the disciplinarian. Her mother had been the same way. Spare the rod and spoil the child was just one of the many axioms Sheila upheld when it came to raising her daughter, even if Michael had complained and complained about Sheila’s parenting style, even if it had cost Sheila her marriage and many friendships.
Sheila finished cleaning the room and scooped the doll parts into a basket and headed downstairs to sit and wait for her daughter and ex in the living room. Her skin itched and she felt anxious, as if she was guilty of something. When the basket in her lap shuddered, Sheila jerked.
She sorted through the heap of toy limbs, looking for the cause of the commotion, thinking she’d find a cockroach or some kind of bug, but the basket contained nothing except what she’d placed in it.
Her mind was playing tricks on her. That was it. She was just upset about what she’d found under Rose’s bed.
Again the basket twitched. This time Sheila jumped, the plastic limbs shooting through the air before raining down across the carpet.
Rose and Michael were due home any minute.
She bent down and began collecting the limbs. She was about to pick up the last piece when she felt something pinch her calf. Looking back at her leg, she saw one of the doll’s hacked off hands clinging to the side of the basket.
The door swung open then. Rose rushed through and walked straight up the stairs without acknowledging Sheila, something she did quite often lately. Michael stood in the door frame.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“No, it’s not.” Sheila got up and carried the basket over. “Did you give her these?”
“What the hell?”
“Why would I give her chopped up doll pieces? Those are really freaky.”
“Don’t lie to me, Michael.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say, but I have no idea where those came from.”
She closed the door on him. Maybe she slammed it shut. In the morning she only recalled going up to Rose’s room and the girl’s frightened expression as Sheila quizzed her about the dolls.
And in the morning Sheila noticed her fingers were badly bent, not gnarled so much as twisted at odd angles, inches apart, looking like curled gourds. Her toes were that way, too. And her neck was cramped on one side so that she could not raise it upright. One of her legs had even started to curve behind the other, as if trying to turn off its socket.
She remembered then going to a fortune teller with some college friends years ago, the woman with the turban telling Sheila what goes around, comes around, that the mind of a child has unseen strength and abilities, that sometimes our bodies are not really our own, that revenge can be subtle but in the end it’s really just a bitch.