A Close Call

Submitted into Contest #97 in response to: Start your story with an unexpected knock on a window.... view prompt


Fiction Suspense Sad

A Close call

Karen tapped on the glass windowpane. Nobody answered. More urgent now she banged harder while her eyes searched up and down the road.

Tom heard the second knock and eased himself out of his chair. He went to the window and looked through the curtains. Though in shadow, Tom could see a young girl standing on the doorstep, looking up at him. He shuffled along the hallway and pulled the door open slightly.

‘Help me,’ the girl pleaded, ‘I think I’m being followed.’

Tom closed the door, released the chain, and pulled the door wide. The girl that stood on the step was thin and looked scared. She held a doll tightly to her chest.

‘Come in,’ he said.

Looking back at the street again, she stepped over the threshold and Tom closed the door firmly, locking the catch with a key that hung from his belt. He placed one hand on her shoulder and ushered her into his living room.

 ‘Sit down and tell me what is troubling you?’ The girl didn’t answer. Tom felt awkward. ‘I’ll make you a drink, then you can let me know what I can do.’

He came back to the living room with a glass of squash. Switching on the overhead light, he noticed that she had put her doll on the settee, and covered it with her cardigan. This exposed her body that was slim and pale.

‘Here drink this, you will feel better.’ He handed Karen the slightly cloudy glass of juice and sat down beside her. ‘Now what’s wrong?’ he asked in a soothing tone.

‘Someone was following me, and Mrs. Killman said if I was frightened I must go to the nearest house and ask for help.’

Tom shuddered. ‘Mrs. Killman?’

Karen turned to the doll and tucked the cardigan tightly around her. ‘Mrs. Killman is my friend and she is very tired.’

Tom frowned. When he had first looked at her, he thought she looked about twelve years old, but in the harsh overhead light, he knew she was much older. ‘Mrs. Killman was right,’ he said. ‘So what do you think we should do now?’ Tom placed his hand gently on her leg.

Startled, Karen grabbed the doll and pulled it to her chest as a defence. ‘Don’t be frightened,’ Tom urged. ‘Drink your juice, it will make you feel better.’

‘I don’t want anything to drink,’ and she threw the glass on the floor.

‘Perhaps if Mrs. Killman had a drink too,’ Tom said. ‘Shall I give Mrs. Killman some juice as well? Let me have the doll, he said.’

‘No, shouted Karen, she wants to stay with me.’ She held the doll even tighter. ‘They were going to take her away from me, that’s why I ran away.’

‘Okay, he whispered,’ trying to pacify her. Placing his rough fingers on her bare shoulder, he started to stroke her porcelain skin.

‘Don’t touch us,’ she said through gritted teeth.

‘Sorry,’ apologised Tom. ‘It’s just that my daughter also had a doll like that.’ His voice trailed off as if the memory was causing him pain. ‘So no-one knows you’re here. Won’t there be someone looking for you’, asked Tom.

Her eyes grew cold as she stared at this old man. ‘You reminded me of my Father? I hate my father. He wanted to take Mrs. Killman away from me. I couldn’t allow that. Mrs. Killman is my friend.’

There was a knock at the door. At first, Tom ignored it. He didn’t like visitors. They always brought trouble. But the tapping continued.

‘Don’t answer it,’ urged the girl. ‘They want to hurt me. Why did they come here?’ There was a brief look of recognition, before she asked, ‘why did I come here?’

‘Hush!’ urged Tom. The girl looked bewildered. She hugged the doll tighter and started rocking. Tom gazed at her. It had been twenty years since his wife died and he had been alone since then. He looked at the girl, she looked so vulnerable, he wanted to pull her to him and kiss away the hurt. For a brief moment, he wondered if he could hide her.

The door rattled again. ‘Tom are you in there? Is Karen with you? Open the door.’

Tom sighed and took a last look at Karen, who was now humming serenely. He shuffled defeated into the hallway. Tom barely opened the door before two policemen and a paramedic rushed in, followed by a detective and a nurse.

In the living room, Tom heard a struggle and closed his eyes to the pain. A sedated Karen, wrapped in a blanket was brought out. She looked straight through Tom as she was escorted into a waiting ambulance, still clutching her precious doll.

‘Come and sit down.’ The detective ordered. They went back into the room where the police had searched. The detective showed Tom a knife with a six-inch blade, which had been found beneath a cushion on the settee, under where the doll had been.

‘You’ve had a close shave, Tom. Another few minutes and who knows.’

He was handed a hot cup of tea. Tom sipped the sickly sweet liquid. ‘Will they take her back to the asylum?’

‘Probably, she was reasonably happy there, and the doctor said she was gradually getting better, that is until a new member of staff tried to take the doll away. She stabbed him. God knows where she got the knife, but while the staff tried to stop the orderly bleeding to death, she managed to escape. We thought she would come here, it’s where all her memories are.’

           ‘It wasn’t all her fault,’ Tom explained. ‘We adopted her as we had not been blessed with children of our own. But from the start, she had always been difficult, unable to get on with the other kids, though she loved Alice, my wife, she really did.’ He paused to wipe his eyes with a shaking hand. That doll was her imaginary friend. On the day it happened, she refused to go to school without the doll. I tried to take it away from her. She attacked me with a knife’ He rubbed the scar on his arm. ‘Alice tried to pacify her and stood between us. She died trying to protect me.’

Tom’s eyes filled with tears, and his shoulders shook. ‘She was only twelve when they took her away.’ 

‘We know, Mr. Killman. We know.’

June 06, 2021 11:03

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Daniel R. Hayes
05:47 Jun 14, 2021

Hi Ann, This was a really good story! I thought it had a great flow and I really liked it. I think for your first story you did an excellent job! I hope you keep writing :)


Ann Smith
17:14 Jun 18, 2021

Thanks Daniel.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply