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I woke up gasping for air. Feeling around for the switch on my bedside lamp, my mind was making horrific characters out of the shapes in my dark room. I finally found the switch, turned it on, and sat up. I looked around. Nothing out of the ordinary, as usual.
I’d woken up startled and gasping for air quite a few times in the past few nights. My dreams had been tainted with images from the night my sister died. Some of the dreams were actual memories, others were my imagination gone wild. Either way, the dreams were disturbing enough to keep me up the rest of the night.
By the time my dad had woken up, I already had the kitchen cleaned and was starting on breakfast. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow, then sat down at the table. “You’re up early,” he stated. There was a hint of question in his voice.
“Yeah, I couldn’t sleep” I replied back. I didn’t want to tell him I’d slipped back into having nightmares. I walked over to the table and sat his breakfast in front of him, then sat down across from him with my own.
“I figured you weren’t sleeping well. I’ve heard you sleep talking a lot the past few nights. Kind of. It was more like giggling. I thought you were on your phone but when I checked you were sleeping.” I looked up at him with what I was sure was a puzzled face. I was pretty certain I wasn’t laughing at those dreams. He’d probably heard crying and mistook it for giggles. I didn’t say anything, but just nodded, hoping he’d change the subject.
He didn’t say anything more during breakfast, other than thanking me, and then he left for work. It was Saturday, so I was out of school and decided to utilize the time getting on my computer. I’d been instant messaging a friend for about an hour when I heard a weird noise coming from under my bed.
Hearing the muffled buzzing noise for the third time, my heart slowed down a little realizing it was probably my cell phone. My cat, Bebop, liked to swat my phone around on the floor. There was no telling where it’d end up half the time.
I reached under my bed and felt around for my phone. When my hand finally did reach it, I gasped and jumped back, startled. There was something stringy and fuzzy on top of my phone. My first thought was spider. After I got over the initial shock, I looked back under my bed. It wasn’t a spider, but a doll. I grabbed my phone, and with it, the stringy and fuzzy hair of the doll laying on top of it.
I set my phone on my bed and looked at the doll. It was by far the creepiest doll I’d ever seen in my life. It had probably been a very beautiful doll years ago, but now it was old and ragged, covered in dirt. The hair, or what was left of it, was gray with filth and she was missing an eye. The doll was made of porcelain that was surprisingly unscathed compared to how dingy the doll’s clothes and hair was. Once beautiful or not, though, this doll was scary. The old hand-made 1800s style dress she was wearing made her somehow even more creepy.
I sat the doll down to look at my cell phone. ‘One missed call from: Dad’. I dismissed it and decided I’d just call him back in a little bit. I picked the doll back up. It looked vaguely familiar. I had to think about it for a minute, surprisingly, but then remembered it had been Emily’s doll. No. It had been Emily’s alter ego, Lucy’s, doll.
I studied the doll even more. Emily hadn’t let this thing out of her sight once after she found it in the boxes left behind by the previous owners. If that was the case, then how did it get under my bed? I put the doll back down on my bed, not sure what to think. There wasn’t exactly a rational reason for it to have been under my bed, yet there it had been. Part of me wanted to believe that Bebop had swatted it under there like he’d done with so many of my stuffed animal, but this doll was too heavy for him to push it around.
After debating on how the doll had gotten there for nearly a half hour, I gave up on it. Heck, maybe Bebop had drug it under there. That's explain the gross stringy hair on the doll. I sat the doll on my dresser and went back to my computer, but after a minute of so it became unnerving. I felt like it was watching me. It wasn’t. It was even faced the opposite way, but the doll just made me feel like I was being imposed upon. Again, I got up from my computer. I grabbed the doll and walked out of my room and marched toward Emily’s room for the first time in a long time.
Once I got to her door, I hesitated. Her room, even before she’d died, gave me the creeps and made me nervous. Not that I had been in there that often; Emily freaked out when anyone so much as glanced at her room. However, when one of us had to go in her room to give her medication or something, it had never been a pleasant experience. The room was always twenty degrees colder than the rest of the house, and the room itself gave of a feeling of uneasiness that couldn‘ t be put into words.
I sat the doll down outside of the door and turned away. I really didn’t want to go in there. I thought about it for a moment and turned back around. My Dad probably didn’t need to be upset by the sight of Emily’s old toys.
I opened the door, hesitantly, and stepped inside, leaning to pick up the doll as I did so. The room looked exactly as I remembered it: toys everywhere and crayons strewn about. There was even some of her dirty laundry laying on the floor. The only thing that seemed to be missing was Emily. That thought brought tears into my eyes.
I sat the doll down on her bed and looked around. Although this was the last place in the house, and quite possibly, the state, that I wanted to be in, I took a few minutes to look around at the remains of Emily’s life.
I walked over to her dresser. On it was a small pink jewelry box with the name “Lucy” in silver calligraphy script across the top. Emily had found that when she first moved into the room under a loose floorboard. Shortly after that she had adopted the alter ego of Lucy.
I opened up the box. There wasn’t much inside, just a few beads and a doll’s shoe. I closed the lid of the box and walked toward the closet. The sliding door of it was open. Peering inside, I saw all of Emily’s old clothes still hanging on the rack. There was a large chest on the floor with “Lucy” written across the top of it. I would’ve never remembered that chest had I not seen it first. That was the chest that Emily had found in the attic last year.
I opened up the box. It still had the same stuff in it as when she’d showed it to all of us, claiming that she’d found her old things. There was a few cotton dresses in it, bonnets that matched each dress, and a leather bound book with Lucy’s name across it.
I picked up the book, not having remembered seeing it before. I opened it up and on the first page there was an old photograph. In the photo there was a young girl with light curly hair framing her face. Her eyes were shining with excitement as she clutched onto a white bonnet. Though the picture was posed and obviously professionally taken, Lucy was sitting In the backyard of what was now my house.
That didn’t come as a shock to me. We’d known when we moved in that this house was extremely old and we were the first family to be able to afford it since it was put on the market years ago. The real estate agent who handled the house had left all of the old belongings of the previous owners in the house to “keep its character” and Lucy had obviously lived in this house when she was a little girl.
When I got to the second to last page I stopped flipping through. The last picture of the little girl was startled me because she’d been so full of life in all of the other photos and she was dead in this one.
The photo showed the girl at about age ten laying in a small white coffin. Even though the picture was grainy and yellowed, I could tell she was very pale, obviously dead. What had startled me even more than the fact that Lucy was dead in this picture was what was in the coffin with her. Lucy’s arms were folded around a doll.
The doll had perfect honey-blond hair, not gray, however this was definitely the same doll I’d found under my bed earlier. I screamed and dropped the book when my phone buzzed in my pocket. I hurried to answer it.
“Hey Miranda, I just wanted to tell you that I won’t be home until late tonight. There are some things I need to finish up, so go ahead and eat dinner without me.” He was clearly making an effort to communicate with me more than he used to but I was distracted by the book laying at my feet.
“Uh huh.” I replied without even really hearing him. Dropping the book had shaken loose an old, yellowed newspaper article from the book and the headline was speeding my heart up more and more each time I read it.
“Miranda? Did you hear me? Keep an eye on the weather, it’s supposed to be really bad tonight….Hello?”
“Yeah, Dad. I heard you. I gotta go, okay? Bye.” I hung up the phone without waiting for his response. I bent down and picked up the article. The headline, in it’s big bold letters, was hauntingly familiar: YOUNG GIRL DROWNS IN STIPONIE CREEK. I read through the first few lines of the article, completely appalled. Save for a few names, this article could have been the article that ran the day after Emily died. Even the date was the same, May 4th.
I was shaking. I was absolutely petrified, no longer convinced that Emily’s drowning was an accident. I was even in doubt that Emily had been insane. This girl, Lucy, she had existed, obviously. She had once lived in this very house and possibly had the same room as Emily. Since Emily had found all of her old things, they’d even had some of the same toys and…dolls.
I got down to the floor and began looking back at the photos of Emily. A lot of the photos didn’t show it, but the last one did for sure. The one of dead Lucy in the coffin. The doll. The same doll Emily played with when she claimed herself to be Lucy. It was the same doll that the photo depicted as being buried with Lucy, and the same doll, that now that I thought about it, had been found with Emily, floating in the creek.
Standing up and covering my mouth in shock, I turned to get out of the room. Something was very wrong here and suddenly my thoughts were steering clear of logic and coincidence and headed straight for irrational and impossible.
Was Lucy more than an alter ego to my sister? Was she really there with Emily? Was she a part of Emily? I reached for the door knob at the very moment the door slammed shut hard enough to rattle the walls. I grabbed for the door again. It wouldn’t budge. I pounded the door with my fists, tears streaming down my face. I was absolutely horrified. Despite all of the noises I was making screaming, crying and beating the door, I could hear something behind me. A voice giggling. A little girl. I slowly turned around.
There, sitting on the bed, to my pure terror, was who I recognized to be Lucy. She was holding the prettier version of the doll she’d been buried with and she was smiling up at me, menacingly. What’s the matter Miranda? You look as though you’ve seen a ghost. She spoke softly inside my head. Her lips didn’t move once.
I stoop in place, petrified in shock and terror. The part of my mind that was still thinking rationally was screaming to find a way out. The other part of my brain was completely focused on the girl siting on my sister’s bed in front of me. There was no way this was happening.
The rational part of my brain was continuing to tell me to move, speak, breathe, to do something. I turned around and made another frantic grab for the door knob. I was pulling and yanking it as hard as I could. The door didn’t budge once. That’s not going to help you, Miranda. The door is not going to open.
She sat on the bed staring at me. Continuing to smile at me menacingly. “Lucy?” I finally managed to get out, unfortunately that was the only question I knew the answer to at the moment, yet still the only question I could force out. She looked at me, almost as if she was confused and then stood up.
Once she stood up, I could see her more clearly. Literally. She was transparent, however, not completely see-through. I could see all of the details of her face and how her hair was fixed, yet I could still see Emily's bed right behind her. Of course, who else could it be? Emily? No, no. It's me, Miranda. Not like you should have to ask, we know each other so well already.
She was speaking as clear as day, but I still was not understanding what she was saying. My mind wasn't processing the words that were making there way into my thoughts. I was more focused on what Lucy was doing.
She was walking toward me slower than I've ever seen anyone move. Do you know what happened to your little sister? Before I could think, speak, or even breathe, she was gone, or so I thought.
I began to feel something. There was an unshakable chill in my bones. I felt odd. I was confused. All my thoughts started fogging up. I couldn't think for myself. I could feel myself walking toward the door, but not of my own free will. I turned the door handle and it opened on the first try.
I blanked out. When I became aware again I was outside. By the creek. I could no longer do anything for myself. I tried to look around, but couldn't. My feet continued to shuffle forward , closer to the creek.
Finally I stopped when I reached the creek. My eyes looked down into my arms. I was holding a doll....
I walked forward once more, stepping into the creek. I sat down in the water. Then I leaned back, lowering my head into the water, then my face went under. The last thing I saw in my mind was Lucy's face.