Her daughter was down for her nap finally. Her son was at school, terrorizing his teachers. All she could hear was the sound of the dryer. Every rotation, her daughter’s coat buttons would hit the metal in the drum and make a clicking noise. It made her feel safe. She brought the doll out of the box and looked at it. It simply sat there, button eyes shining dully in the light of the dining room lamp. For one breathless moment, the her world pivoted, as if on the edge of a spinning coin, and then fell.
The doll sat up. Its placid face stayed in the same painted expression, but she could tell that it seemed annoyed. It stood, and then bowed to her, in a slightly sarcastic way. It gestured in the direction of her bedroom. She slowly stood with the doll, and walked into the bedroom.
The book lay there on the bed. She put the doll down next to it, where indicated, and stood to wait. The doll opened the book and began to thumb through it.
Soon, she had to take over the job, as the doll only had stuffed mitten like hands.
Just for the hell of it, she chose a recipe that had ingredients she already had on hand. Midnight tonight there would be a full moon, and the handwritten note in the margin indicated that made the recipe work even better.
Freezing her butt off, hoping fervently that her son would not wake up for his nightly pee and escort back to bed, she finished, and sat back on her heels in her yard and looked at her handiwork.
At first, nothing happened, and then there was a small jump. A twitch. Then the old Raggedy Ann doll sat up. It stretched, and looked around. Touching the painted mouth, it tilted its head quizzically, as if to ask what she wanted, and why she had not given her a mouth that works.
Explaining to the EMT why she was found naked in the yard with a rag doll was not easy, but eventually they accepted her response and suggested that perhaps she ought not to drink quite that much wine in the future. The doll agreed, silently.
Missing a day will get a post of two hundred words. These words do not count. (Or these)
In the safety of her home, she opened the box. It was covered with dust and some spiderwebs. It always amused her how spiders will spin themselves out all over the only thing in a room. The hinges made a rusty kind of noise as they opened, and she got the sense that this was the first time in quite a while since the box had been opened. Her eye hit on the biggest thing in the box first, a very large book loosely wrapped in a stained lacey cloth. As she lifted it from the box, something fell from the wrapping and landed with a hard clunk in the box below.
Old leather, hand bound. The pages within were of thick stock and smelled slightly of must. She began to turn the pages.
Her daughter’s urgent cries made her blink and look up at the clock. Two hours, and no housework done. She had been sitting here for two hours reading this thing. In a panic she stood, dropping the book back into the box. Time to get the baby, time to get real.
Two in the morning, back in her favorite chair, reading.
“Grandmother, ” She thought. “What the hell is this?”
The key felt heavy in her hand. That’s all that was in the envelope. A key, taped to a business card. She stood in front of the metal door now, shivering in the frost, and stared at it. It had taken all her cash to pay the back rent on the unit, but she didn’t just want to walk away without looking.
Still, the door was daunting.
The door made a disconcerting screeching as she heaved it upward and secured it, holding aloft her camping lantern against the gloom.
In the distance, some crows called to each other in the trees.