“If I can’t have it, no one can!” Zoe screamed as she threw the doll on the cold, hard, driveway. The priceless, antique, ceramic doll shattered into hundreds of pieces.
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” I managed to cry out through my tears. It took all I had not to kill her right then and there. That doll had been passed down from grandmother to granddaughter for generations.
“Chelsea!” Zoe screeched
Our nanny ran out of the front door, ready to save the day. She only got a few feet out the door before seeing the broken pieces on the ground and froze in place. Her curly blonde locks of hair in her face, flowing with the cool autumn breeze and slight drizzle. “What happened?” She slowly walked to us, careful not to step on anything with her bare feet.
“Amanda threw her doll at me,” Zoe lied through her cavity-filled teeth, faking tears. “It would have hit me in the stomach if I hadn’t of moved away. And if you wouldn’t have came out when you did she would’ve hurt me more.”
“Why would you do this to your most prized possession?” Chelsea had bent down to examine the shards, surely disappointed in me.
“Th-that's not what happened.” Tears and a slight drizzle rolled down my face. “It was all Zoe!”
Chelsea and Zoe were talking, but I couldn't hear them. The rain kept getting louder and denser. I couldn’t see five inches in front of me.
I fell to the ground and I cried. I cried and I screamed. “It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my fault!”
I was soaked and freezing. I waited for the rain to stop, which seemed like forever. I finally looked up to find nothing but a lake in front of me.. My house was gone. The driveway, gone. Everything was gone. Except for, in the dirt under me, was the broken doll. Her sorry eyes staring up at me. I picked up the pieces and held them close to me. "It was my fault" I whispered to myself.
"Come on, let's play 'chase'" A little girl's voice pierced the sky. I looked around, but couldn't find the source of that voice. Almost out of nowhere, a giant cliff appeared on the other side of the lake. Before I had time to contemplate how it got there, something- someone- fell.
Shocked, I just watched. I watched as the figure fell backwards off the cliff. I watched as they flailed their arms, reaching for anything to save them. There was another person on that cliff. They were bending over the edge. Also watching helplessly. And screaming, "Zoe."
“Zoe!” I screamed as i jolted up from my bed. Drenched in a cold sweat, I glanced around the room, hoping -praying- this was real life. I sat in bed for a few more minutes to gather my wits, checking the corners of the room every few seconds. Just to be sure.
Chelsea knocked on the door. “Are you ready for school?” She flicked on the lightswitch, spreading light throughout my room, except the far corners. They have always seemed darker than the rest of the room. Examining my white face and red eyes, she made an executive decision. “You look terrible. You’re staying home from school today.”
“I’m fine. I just had a nightmare. I’ll be ready soon.”
Chelsea didn’t budge, though. Her head was resting on the door frame and her arms were crossed. She was waiting for me to make the first move to get out of bed,as always, but this time I just sat there. After what seemed like forever, she walked over to my bed, put her hand on mine. “You need more rest. I’ll call the school. You’re staying right here.
“It’s fine. I’m fine. You don’t have to worry about me all the time.”
“Your parents put me in charge of you. It’s my job to worry.” With that, Chelsea stood up, flicked off the lights and left, leaving me with my thoughts. With the horrid nightmare still buzzing around in my head, I thought that i would never fall back asleep.
I begrudgingly layed back down and checked my phone. 7:55. Even if I went to school today, I would miss the first few periods. I tried to sleep again, but I couldn’t. Shadows danced in the corners of my room as beams of light from cars driving through the busy street by my house, passed in my window.
Sometimes, though, even when cars weren’t passing, I could see shadows fluttering around. No, not shadows, a shadow.
The crack of the doll. The scream from Zoe. The disappointment of Chelsea. It was happening again.
I fell. I screamed. I cried. Again.
I looked up, the house was gone. The driveway, gone. Chelsea, gone. The doll, still there.
I knew what was happening, I knew what was going to happen. Zoe would scream, I would see her fall, and then I would wake up. But that wasn’t happening.
Zoe should have been gone too. She should have been on the opposite side of the lake. I should have seen her fall. Again.
Zoe was standing beside me, her hand holding mine. She looked up at me with a sweet, but ghoulish smile. “I betcha’ never thought you’d see me again.”
I ripped my hand away from hers, jumping back. “How- wha- I-”
“Why are you so surprised?” Zoe tilted her head and stepped toward me, “You’ve seen me every night in your other dreams, why is tonight so different?”
“Stay away from me. You’re not real!”
She stopped dead in her tracks. Her smile melted, her eyes teared up. “Don’t you love me anymore? Isn’t this what you wanted? For me to be back?” She reached out and grabbed my wrist. Her slimy fingers digging into my skin.
“No! Not like this. You’re gone. Gone forever. I’m just imagining this- yeah, it’s just a dream.” I backed away- towards the 100ft drop- tugging at my arm, trying to loosen her grip, but to no avail. Blood starts to drip from the spots that her nails jab into my arm.
Her grip tightened. “I will make you pay for what you did to me. You will get what you deserve.”
“It was an accident. I didn’t mean to. I swear.” I cried out.
She ignored my pleas. “You prayed every night that I could be back with you, that we could spend the rest of our lives together. Well, now we can.” With that, she backed to edge of the cliff, rose to her toes and fell. Her claws still wrapped around my wrist, I fell with her.
Together, we fell. Into the deep, rocky, waters of the lake. The ice stinging my body as I submerged into the depths.
My body jolted upright, almost before I was even awake. My hand flew to the side of my bed to flip on my light. Apparently I must have screamed when I woke up, because a few seconds later my door flew open, with Chelsea standing there, startled.
“I’m okay, it was just a bad dream.” I explained.
“Again? That’s the fifth one this week. The second one today.”
“Well, it wasn’t exactly the same one as usual. But it’s fine.”
Chelsea look skeptically at me, then turned and walked away.
I was starving, as I had missed breakfast and it was now nearly lunchtime. I stumbled out of bed, still tangled in my comforter and made made my way downstairs to the kitchen. I stumbled a bit going down the stairs. It wasn’t bad, just a little slip on the edge of the blanket. I hit my elbow a little, but other than that I was fine.
As I was standing back up from my tumble, there was a loud crash. Chelsea must have dropped something, I didn’t think much of it.
I took a deep inhale, drawing in the sweet scent of breakfast “Smells good, what's cooking?” I ask Chelsea as I walked around the corner to the kitchen. But she didn’t answer me and instead ran right past me, no, through me? “Chelsea? What’s wrong?” I followed and called after her.
She was on the middle of the stairs, trembling over something. Someone? It was hard to tell, but I could see part of what looked like my blanket.
“Chelsea?” I walked around to see what she was so worried about. Then I saw it. I saw me. I saw my body lying on the floor no more than two feet away from where I was standing. I fell to the ground in a puddle of confusion and blacked out.
I was dreaming again, right?
I felt something touch my arm. I looked down and saw her.
“I’ve got you again,” Zoe lunged forward to hug me, still mortified, I jumped back. But she grabbed me, and again, I blacked out.
Why did this keep happening? What was happening? How was this happening?
By the time it started raining, I was sobbing. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t stop it. I was under the will of Zoe.
By the time I looked up, it wasn’t raining and I wasn’t at the lake. I was in my room, safe. At least, that’s what I thought.
There were more shadows in the corners of my room fluttering around, each one bumping into another, pushing and shoving to get to the other side of my room.
My door creaked open. “Chelsea!” I jumped up ready to embrace her and tell her everything that had happened to me.
“Not exactly.” Zoe smirked, opening the door completely. Right beside my room, were five or six paramedics talking to Chelsea. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.
I pushed past Zoe, “It’s okay I’m right here, I’m okay.” I sang out as I tried to hug Chelsea. But I wasn’t. My arms flew right through her and I ended up running into the wall.
“She can’t hear you, you know.” Zoe leaned on a wall enjoying herself too much and pointed to a lump on the floor, “For all she knows, you’re right there.”
“No! That’s not me! This is just another dream. I will wake up any moment now.” I closed my eyes and willed myself to wake up from this nightmare.
“That’s what used to happen, but this isn’t a dream anymore. This is really real, and you’re really not alive.” She started to walk towards me.
“Wh-what? I’m dead?” I was crying, trembling, terrified at this point.
“Not completely, but you’re not alive either. It’s more like….halfway.”
“I don’t believe you. That’s impossible.” I turned away towards Chelsea again. “Chelsea, I’m right here, you don’t have to worry. It’s okay.”
“You won’t be able to talk to her.” She gingerly walked towards us. “You’re probably really freaked out right now, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re only having an out-of-body experience, you’re just comatose.”
“So when I wake up, I’ll be in me, right?”
“Yea, mostly, but-”
I cut Zoe off by pushing her aside and started to shake my body relentlessly.
“That’s not going to work,” Zoe sang, “only I can wake you up. Since I made you fall asleep. It makes sense.”
“You did this to me?”
“Who else could’ve? Chelsea?” She giggled maliciously
Paramedics rushed past me and put my body on a stretcher. They were talking, but I could only hear a murmur, never mind trying to make out what they were saying.
“Why can’t I hear them?” I asked
“Because you’re not in their world, you’re in mine.” Zoe snickered and snapped her fingers. It started to pour out of nowhere and in an instant we were back on the cliff at the pond. “Only I can control what happens here.”
“What do you want? I’ll do anything” I pleaded.
Zoe stepped closer to me, “You know what I want. You’ve always known. You just don’t want to admit it.” With every word she stepped closer and closer, “I want you to admit to everyone what you did to me.”
“I didn’t do anything, you’re the one who got too close to the edge. I told you to stay away, but like always you didn’t listen.” I pleaded over the sound of the rain pounding on the lake and my own tears.
“LIES” Zoe screamed as she lunged for me. My back was to the lake as she tried to push me into the abyss of the waters.
I tried fighting back, but she was very strong for an eight-year-old. I kept slipping on the mud, getting closer and closer to the edge. After what seemed like ages of struggling, I broke free, but it was a second too late.
I my foot was the first to fall. It slipped on a loose rock and for a second it felt like I was levitating before I felt the effects of gravity on me. At the very last second, I grabbed onto Zoe's arm, pulling her with me.
"NO!" she screamed.
My stomach jumped and I felt as if all the weight of the world was on me, and weightless as the same time. I was terrified, falling forever, never knowing when the rocks and water would meet with my fragile body.
Even though this was my end, it was also Zoe's. I ruined her plans.
I looked to her to see the defeat in her eyes before we both reached the water. But she wasn't there.
In place of Zoe was the doll. Completely intact except for a large crack running down her entire face.
The last thing I saw was that cavity-filled mouth staring down at me from the ledge.