The Gift of the Doll

On Madeleine’s birthday, she received dozens of presents from family and friends. Video games and books, paints and paintbrushes, new clothes. The strangest gift she received however came in the mail.

That morning a package arrived at Madeleine’s house with her name on it. “It’s from your great aunt Carolyn,” her mom said. It was in a strange little trunk, that had stickers on it that looked like it had travelled the world. When Madeleine opened the trunk, a moth flew out and a billow of dust choked her. After the dust cleared, she finally saw her gift – a beautiful porcelain doll.
The doll wore an intricate blue dress and matching hat, and tiny black leather boots. Madeleine thought she was beautiful, until she looked at the doll’s face.

The doll was smiling slightly, and something about that smile made Madeleine uncomfortable. She thought she was silly at first, but the more she looked at the doll, the more uncomfortable she became.

After her birthday party, Madeleine took her new toys and games and put them away in her room. She propped the new doll on her bed, and sat down in a chair to read.

The whole time she was reading, she felt odd – like someone was watching her. She looked around the room and her eyes rested on the doll. Suddenly, she wanted the doll as far away as possible. She leapt up, picked up the doll, ran down the stairs and put the doll into a cupboard in the kitchen, closing the door.

That night, after Madeleine went to bed, she heard an eerie giggling downstairs, and footsteps in the kitchen. She listened closely, and heard someone climbing the stairs, very lightly. One step, and then a few minutes of silence. Then, another footfall on the next step, with silence after that. When Madeleine looked down the stairs, she saw nothing, and went back to bed thinking she was hearing things.

The next night, it happened again. One step. Two steps. Three steps. Once again, Madeleine went to check out the noise. This time, she sprang around the corner to surprise whatever was making the noise. She glimpsed a moment of the blue dress and hat – the doll! But when she blinked, the doll was gone. She convinced herself that she was seeing things. She finally fell asleep, exhausted, after midnight.

On the third night, Madeleine heard the steps again. One step. Two steps. Three steps. Four steps. By this time Madeleine had convinced herself she was hearing things. She blocked the noises out and was determined to fall asleep. She sang herself a song until she finally drifted off to sleep.

Only minutes later, Madeleine awoke to a clatter. She sprang out of bed, threw open her door and found the doll, splayed on the floor, and next to her a butcher’s knife from that very kitchen cupboard where Madeleine hid her.

That moment, Madeleine took the doll and packed her into the trunk she came in. She put on slippers and a bathrobe and headed into the backyard, where she dug a hole and threw the trunk in. The doll is buried there still, and children still say that as they sit under the tree out there, they can hear the sound of the doll’s eerie giggle.

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