54 comments

Nov 21, 2020

Horror Christmas

Her name is Cindy. Sitting here, under the Christmas table and looking up at her thin, boney little face, I see how her lipstick is applied so thickly that it cracks when she parts her lips. Her eyes are stuck in a permanently worried expression, her thinly plucked eyebrows turned up and her brown eyes wide and scared in the dim glow of the candles. She jumps when anyone touches her lightly, as though she might break. She is a china doll, I think. Like in grandmamma’s cabinet, the ones who should not be touched. She belongs with the others, lined up neatly in a row, frozen in time. I remember, one day, I reached up to touch their painted smiles, run my fingers along their stiff dresses of taffeta and gingham. I stroked the rosy cheek of a doll with a sailor’s dress, her hands folded neatly in her lap.

And then the lovely thing slipped from my fingers, smashing on the floor in a mess of shattered shards. I was so very sorry, and I cried over her broken little body until my grandmamma came running. She was most upset with me and said I was a naughty little girl. She picked up the broken pieces, the doll with the shattered face, and lovingly cradled it in her arms. I watched, my face streaked with dried tears, as she tucked the doll into a box, and surrounded her with tissue paper, covering her shattered form with soft layers of ocean blue. And she took her up to the attic and slid her onto a shelf in a dark corner to rest. I knew not to touch the dolls after that.

But this Cindy. She is new here. She doesn’t belong. When my father places his arm around her shoulder and kisses her, she seems to melt into him. My fists ball in my lap. How could my father have forgotten my mother so soon? They asked me to go to his wedding, and they explained it to me in their false patient voices, like the whole thing was an exciting adventure. “Your mommy and daddy still love you very much…they just aren’t happy together anymore…” Our lives used to fit perfectly, three puzzle pieces. My father, mother, and me.

She stands in our way. Cindy and her face caked with make-up and her eyes like a doe’s, soft and shy.

I hate her. I hate her with everything I am.

They asked me to be the flower girl at their wedding, and they dressed me up in a frilly pink dress with shoes that pinched. Because, they said, pink was Cindy’s favorite color. I held my basket of flowers, I was standing in front of Cindy, and she was dressed in a white gown.

The man at the organ began the music and it hummed through the air. It hurt my ears. People were so happy, and my father looked so proud, with eyes only for her.

But when I looked around the church, my momma was nowhere to be found. Had my daddy stood so proud and so handsome in a dark suit for her too?

When the time came, I didn’t walk down the aisle, scattering the pretty petals like I was supposed to. I ran from the room with my hands over my ears. My basket fell in a heap, scattering Cindy’s feet with blossoms, and her face crumpled, the white-toothed smile wiped away. Don’t do this, I wanted to tell her. He’ll leave you like he left my mamma. He’ll find another painted doll to love.

***

“Lilith!” They call me now, tonight, at our Christmas celebration. “Where is that silly girl?” I am not silly. I understand better than anyone. They are the silly ones, all my aunts and uncles and cousins, with their high pitched voices. They rock back and forth, roaring with laughter, though no one has said anything funny. And though they giggle and talk of meaningless things, of holidays and snow, their eyes are cold and dead. Lifeless. The room is full of pretty little dolls.

They pull me from beneath the table, and my father ruffles my hair, holding me close. His sweater smells of coffee and shaving soap. I do not want to be near him, this man who has forgotten his promise. His vow to stay with me and my momma. The room is lost in a rosy glow, and the blur of voices and tinkling of glasses echoes in my ears like an eerie music. I turn to look at Cindy and she is smiling tentatively, her horsey brown eyes staring anxiously into mine. Hoping for acceptance.

Somewhere from deep inside me, there is something cold. My lips burn with frost and the room fades. There is only her and there is me, and my deep inky eyes boring into hers. I want her to feel my rage. I want her to feel lifeless.

She jumps from her seat as though she has been stung. The adults turn to stare. She smiles tightly and excuses herself, ducking out of the room, her black dress swirling in her wake. A smile dances on my lips as my daddy plays with my hair, his blue eyes twinkling, and the adults go back to their Christmas merriment. They are so quick to move on.

Nobody notices as I slip from the room, turning back only once to look at the champagne-colored dresses and the chandelier dripping with glass tears.

Darling Cindy is in the bathroom, the door open as she stares into the mirror, her porcelain hands fluttering around her cheeks like frantic birds, watching in horror as an eggshell sheen spreads across her face. She turns to me and there is terror in her eyes. What have you done to me? they say. And I want to tell her that all I have done is made her outside match who she is within. But I say nothing, my hands folded behind my back, watching.

Watching as Cindy fades behind a mask of paint and china. I blink, and she is gone. All that is left is a little doll, laying on her back in a dress black as midnight, with sequins that sparkle like the stars. I bend down to pick her up and I stare into her eyes. Her face is cold and hard, framed by a soft bob that sits just so, unruffled. The doll’s eyes are wide and helpless, the one thing I did not change. The painted lips exhale one last breath and Cindy is gone forever. Trapped in her own skin.

I smile down at her lovingly and drop her to the cold linoleum floor of the bathroom, where her face breaks, splintering into a web of cracks.

Carefully, I carry her shards to the attic and wrap her in a box, surround her with clouds of tissue paper. Pale pink, because it is her favorite. And gently, I slip her onto a shelf in the back. There she will rest with the others forever. 

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54 comments

Emma Sunshine
23:15 Nov 22, 2020

Fantastic story. It was full of vivid description and rich emotion that was quite strong. The twist/ending was also very nice and a surprising turn of events. Overall, very well done. I can’t wait to read more of your works.

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Willow Byrd
23:26 Nov 22, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Emma Sunshine
01:30 Nov 23, 2020

You're welcome!

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Willow Byrd
01:44 Nov 23, 2020

:)

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Hey Helen! I really loved the description of the story, it's beautiful! "Her name is Cindy. Sitting here, under the Christmas table and looking up at her thin, boney little face, I see how her lipstick is applied so thickly that it cracks when she parts her lips. Her eyes are stuck in a permanently worried expression, her thinly plucked eyebrows turned up and her brown eyes wide and scared in the dim glow of the candles. She jumps when anyone touches her lightly, as though she might break. She is a china doll, I think. Like in grandmamma’s c...

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Willow Byrd
13:16 Dec 17, 2020

Aw thank you so much for your kind words!! -Helen :)

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Willow Byrd
13:16 Dec 17, 2020

Aw thank you so much for your kind words!! -Helen :)

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Willow Byrd
13:16 Dec 17, 2020

Aw thank you so much for your kind words!! -Helen :)

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Willow Byrd
23:37 Nov 22, 2020

So... yeah. I'm not sure where this spawned from and I actually don't like it that much but I just needed to write something to get myself going again. Let me know what you think and please be honest!!

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23:34 Nov 22, 2020

Great work, Helen! The ending was very creepy, I guess, there isn't really any other way to put it. Well, creepy and sad. Great job, though!

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Willow Byrd
23:36 Nov 22, 2020

Thanks for reading, and I kinda don't love this story for its creepiness, I honestly just needed to write something to get myself going again :)

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23:38 Nov 22, 2020

No problem!

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23:18 Nov 22, 2020

Hi! I'm so glad you came out with a new story! The switch between the doll and Cindy is crazy, and it's amazing! Great work!

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23:19 Nov 22, 2020

The title of this story is also amazing!

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Willow Byrd
23:28 Nov 22, 2020

One of my weirder stories, but thanks so much for reading!!

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23:30 Nov 22, 2020

Haha, but I didn't think it was that weird, it was very metaphorical though!

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Willow Byrd
23:33 Nov 22, 2020

:)

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23:17 Nov 22, 2020

Wow. This was a really good story. It had so much emotion in it and was so good. I feel kinda bad for her throughout the story (Lilith not Cindy) Also what the heck. Is she (Cindy) really a doll or was that just a comparison...? That was really a good twist and kinda freaky.

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Willow Byrd
23:28 Nov 22, 2020

Hi Blair! Thanks so much for reading. Yeah... this story kinda scares me... I honestly have no idea where that dark idea came from, but yeah, she turns into a doll at the end.

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23:43 Nov 22, 2020

Of course! Wow! Yeah, lol. That part was a little scary and definitely unpredictable. Now that I think about it, I can kind of see where you gave little hints about it but when I first read the story I had no idea at all.

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Willow Byrd
23:44 Nov 22, 2020

Yeah someone else said the same thing lol :)

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01:29 Nov 23, 2020

Yeah, you wrote it really nice though. And pease let me know when your next story comes out! I would love to read it.

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Willow Byrd
01:44 Nov 23, 2020

Thanks! Will do!!

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Ellen Boyd
18:09 Dec 01, 2020

WOW. I'm late to the party, but what an amazing story. The imagery is so vivid, and I feel for both Cindy and Lilith. Marrying into a new family isn't easy for anyone involved. But what an ending. Fabulous.

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Willow Byrd
19:39 Dec 01, 2020

Thank you so much! I really appreciate your kind words!

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Kevin Broccoli
20:42 Nov 28, 2020

"Watching as Cindy fades behind a mask of paint and china. I blink, and she is gone. All that is left is a little doll, laying on her back in a dress black as midnight, with sequins that sparkle like the stars." This was such a beautifully constructed story. Well done.

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Willow Byrd
00:14 Nov 29, 2020

Thank you very much!

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Akshaya Sutrave
03:49 Nov 24, 2020

Hi Helen! I enjoyed the details and description in your story. The twist at the end was unexpected and creative! The emotion you portrayed was true to life and amazing. Great job!

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Willow Byrd
13:18 Nov 24, 2020

Thank you so much!

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Helen amazing work! I loved the descriptions of the dolls. The ending was unexpected for sure! Great work!

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Willow Byrd
23:38 Nov 23, 2020

Thank you so much!

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no problem, do go check out my stories and tell me what you think!

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Willow Byrd
00:53 Nov 24, 2020

I will absolutely do that! I don't have time at the moment but can't wait to read some later!

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Maya W.
00:01 Nov 22, 2020

Hey Helen! It's been a while! Wow! That ending, though! Like, what the frick? She's a doll now? Seriously? Lol, sorry, I was just so not expecting that ending, it felt like it came out of nowhere, but then I reread the story with the ending in mind and I realized it fit perfectly. Really nice job here! I don't often get that emotionally invested in a story, lol. I wrote two stories this week, would you mind checking them out if you have the time?

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Willow Byrd
00:08 Nov 22, 2020

Hi Maya! Wow, you found that fast, I just put it out like 20 mins ago. Thanks so much for reading, and, yeah, it was one of my creepier stories. An idea just popped into my head and suddenly I was writing up a storm. Maybe the ending was too abrupt, but I tried to drop hints along the way. :) Wow, two stories! I will definitely check them out, and though I can't promise a comment right now, I will absolutely come back and comment on them later!

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Maya W.
00:10 Nov 22, 2020

Haha, that happens sometimes. I go to my favorite boba shop to write after school when I'm not swamped with work, and sometimes I just get so into writing I forget about my tea completely! I think this was the sorta story where you do what I did and have to read it again. I look forward to seeing your comments!

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Willow Byrd
00:11 Nov 22, 2020

Thanks for stopping by!

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