The rain beat on the windows in it's own strange rhythm that the fire danced along with, the shadows on the floor bending in waving to a song that didn't make sense of but she couldn't pull her eyes away.
When did I become so tired?
She wondered as she sat in front of the dancing fire unable to find the will to even lift her head up straight. She felt as if she was coming undone, strings slowly slipping from their proper place, stuffing poking out in humiliation.
Have I always been this way?
No, she vaguely recalled a time when the days were bright filled with laughter. Days where she is always made sure her sandy hair was perfectly curled and her brightly colored dress highlighted her rosy complexion and blue eyes. Days where she was loved and soaked up every drop of attention. The memories were so vague that it almost seemed like they weren't her own. As if she just happened to see this sandy haired, blue eyed, dream and stole the memory for herself. The fire crackled causing the shadows to jump. The shadows were changing now, so frantic they were almost screaming. Another shadow emerged from the dancing ones, it stretched out along the hardwood floor, slithering towards her at a hunters pace.
There it is again, it's going to take me.
She tried to grab the chair, grab anything that might anchor her, but her strength was replaced by a paralyzing fear.
She screamed and she watched the shadow grip her ankle with such force that she heard a snap. She cried out in pain, though she didn't know who it could have reached but there were others she realized, she had forgotten. Even now there were eyes looking at her, watching this shadow pull her from the chair, watching her desperately trying to cling to safety. They only watched, their eyes dull and lifeless, their own will had been taken by this shadow too. The desperation in her eyes must have been the same as when she saw the shadow take them. Their faces displayed a look that she likely had many times before, relief that it wasn't them. Maybe then, their will wasn't taken, they only offered to watch because that's all she ever did for them.
She fell into darkness, catching one last glimpse of the shadows from the fire. They weren't dancing now, just watching like the others but full of laughter. She didn't remember hitting the floor, she didn't remember the pain of falling on her arm when she landed, or hearing the crack as her leg snapped and now laid at an impossible angle. What she did feel was the pounding of her head, which became worse with each deafening beat of her heart. She tried to look around but most of her vision was blurred and blotchy. Fear struck her, as she raised her undamaged arm to her eye. A finger slipped into a hole, and then another.
Her thoughts scattered, where is my eye? Did I always have one eye?
No that couldn't be right, could it? She had seen so many bright sunny days before, surely she saw them with two eyes. She tried to roll her head, unable to find the strength to sit up.
Why won't you move?!
She asked her body which acted as if it was on the shadows side instead of hers. Her vision began to clear and she saw light it the distance. It was painfully harsh not at all the like warm sun she remembered. Despite it size, it didn't even allow her to see where she was. She heard the rain again, still beating on the window but faster and harder rhythm now. The window rattled and shook from the lightening that cut at the night sky. It was the lightening that guided her to her eye, that sat too far away for her to even hope to reach. Each time the lightening cut it's way through the sky, it showed her the gleam of a white round object.
Each time, she was hurt more and more that she couldn't see if the eye was blue. She suddenly wanted to know more than anything if the distant memory she held was hers or if it was thievery that put her here. Something moved behind her, the sound of something large. It was getting closer, each movement was so loud it dulled the sound of her heart beating in her ears. Fear swelled with in hear, not because of the massive size of this monster but the sound it made. The laughter was so happy, so excited, she couldn't understand who it was for.
Did I laugh like that once? She thought as she caught the gleam of her eye again in the distance.
The comfort of such a thought was lost to her as she listened to the shuffling behind her. It was close now, the shuffling had become loud enough that she was sure she could reach out and touch the monster. It grabbed her arm and pulled her up, her broken leg and arm dangled as she was lifted from he floor. It's hot breath hit her face rapidly, laughter still hung it's voice. She was sure it's eyes were on her, but she didn't dare to raise her head to meet them. It stared at her for a moment and then slowly spun her around between it's fingers. She was sure she screamed out, she was sure it heard her. As she slowly spun, it gingerly grabbed her broken leg. She felt it's finger run over the break and she forced her self only to whimper. Suddenly, the finger dug into the break, the sound of snapping echoed with the laughter until the snaps became tearing sounds. There flash past her eyes, followed by the thud of something hitting the ground.
Am I bleeding?
She wasn't sure, what did bleeding feel like again? She couldn't remember why bleeding should be important to her. She couldn't remember anything but the sound of the laughter from the monster. It threw her to the ground, and the breath was forced out of her. She coughed trying to sit up but the monsters hand covered her chest, restricting what little air she could get back. It pressed something cold and heavy against her chest, a sharp point just digging into her. She heard the laughter again.
Why do I know this laughter?
She thought as she strained her in the darkness, just making out the outline of the monster that loomed over her. She could see it lifting it's arm, and with it whatever was pointed at her chest, it paused with it's arm raised.
Why do I know what happens next?
A bright light flooded her eyes, blinding what little vision she had left. It stung her eyes and the outline of the monster was engulfed in light. She didn't hurt anymore, she wasn't scared anymore, her mind became fuzzy, like she was slipping into a fog. She smiled, this was the light she remembered from happier days.
“Amber what are you doing up? It's the middle of the night,” Beth said staring down at her small child with a large flashlight in her hand.
“I was scared of the storm but Maggie said she would protect me!” She exclaimed, hugging a small doll to her chest.
"Oh Amber, I told you you have to be careful with this one” Beth said kneeling down beside her daughter. “This was your grandmothers doll remember? She gave it to me when I was your age. I would have so many tea parties with my friends and their dolls. We would dress them up and do their hair, like they were going to a ball or something.”
Amber nodded, she had heard the story many times. That's why Maggie was her favorite, because mommy loved her so much. Amber frowned, thrusting the doll out to show her what had happened to her friend.
“Oh no! The poor thing, I don't know how you manage to keep tearing up your dolls. You are too rough with them Amber.”
“Can you fix her Mommy?” Amber asked with tear filled eyes, holding half of a leg and a glass eye. Beth looked at the doll with a heavy heart. The doll was mostly sewn together with cloth but the head was wood, polished and painted in order to make her look more real. Some of her face was scratched and the wood poked through The sandy hair she remembered brushing and curling was all but gone now, with only a few thin patches remaining. Her other eyes was scratched and nicked, and always seemed to pop out too. Stuffing was sticking out from various places that she would have to sew up again. She would have to figured out how she was going to sew it's leg back on, the doll had so many stitches and patches it looked like a quilt. Even her beautiful blue dress was torn up and faded now. She sighed, it was her daughters favorite doll after, she couldn't tell her no.
“Of course darling, don't I always? Now get into bed.”
Amber squealed with excitement and rushed to her bed. As she settled in under the covers, she looked at all her other beautiful dolls she got to play with. She was so happy to have all of them. They all stared down from their shelves, eager to be the next ones to be played with. She couldn't wait to play with them too. Beth walked across the room and threw a few more logs into the fire. At least this old fire place turned out to be useful in a storm like this.
“Mommy, will I get to make dolls when I grow up too?”
“Yes, if you want to. I'm sure you could make wonderful dolls."
“I want to make own kind of dolls. Not like the ones Grandpa and Daddy make.”
“You can make whatever kind of dolls you want Amber, now go to sleep.”
Amber rolled over towards the wall, another doll in her arms. Beth walked across the room to leave when stepped on something cold.
“I don't know how she keeps finding the scissors. All of them don't need haircuts” Beth whispered. She shook her head with a smile, she took one more look at her sleeping child before closing the door. The rain had stopped now, and all that could be heard was the fire crackling. The shadows danced again, brushing over the dolls that lined the shelves in room. The girl giggled, brushing the hair of the doll in her arms. Amber loved her long black hair and painted green eyes.
“But you'd be more beautiful with no arms and legs. Don't worry Stella, I can make more beautiful."
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