Watching the world around her, Annie walked in a daze. She had just found out her grandmother passed away. She was so close with her and this was a major blow to her. Everything just seemed wrong. The sky was a beautiful blue, the temperature was perfect at 70 degrees, and there was a slight breeze playing with her hair. Wasn’t it supposed to be raining and cold out instead? Isn’t that how it happened in the movies? But this wasn’t a movie was it? No, this was harsh reality. Annie sighed and shook herself. Her mother called her this morning and she had to catch the next flight home to go to the visitation and funeral. She was going to help her mother plan it. Looking up at the sky while walking, she failed to notice the stranger as she ran into him. She fell backwards and the breath momentarily left her. Her eyes were scrunched shut with pain. “Ouch.” She groaned. A hand was out in front of her. Without looking she reached out and allowed the stranger to help her up. Hey, at least the person stayed around instead of walking away as if she had the plague. “Thank you. And sorry.” She mumbled while straightening her clothes. She hadn’t even looked up yet. “You’re welcome.” The voice was a deep, quiet strum. It gave her pause and she looked up. Eyes of coal black stared out from under a rimmed hat. He had a trench coat pulled around him. He looked like he was right out of those old Noir movies. You know the ones… with the sluth and the dames and the beautiful black and white coloring. Annie stared a bit too long. “Miss are you ok?” Again the deep strum went right through her and she shivered despite the warmth of the day. “Yes.” she murmured. He nodded and bid her good day before walking on his way. Annie went to walk off as well when she noticed something on the ground. A beautiful porcelain doll lay face down on the ground. The man must have dropped it when she ran into him. She looked up and went to shout his name when she realized he was no where in sight. Looking round there were thousands of people walking all around her. She would have to take out an ad in the paper later. Right now she needed to catch her flight. She grabbed the doll and turned it over. The doll had a beautifully painted face with glass green eyes. Annie shivered again. Dolls freaked her out. Their glass eyes always made her feel as if she were being watching. They always had smiles painted on them and placidly looked out at you. She shuddered again before nestling the doll against her and running on her way to the nearest bus stop. She needed to get to the airport.
Arriving at the airport around five in the evening, Annie promptly went to find the next flight she could get out to her mother in Arizona. It was going to be so hot there. She was not looking forward to it. Flight set, she relaxed a bit. She was sitting down and heard a murmur near her. She looked down to see a little girl admiring the doll she was holding. “Is this doll yours?” The child asked with such wide innocent eyes. Annie smiled, “No, but I’m keeping it safe for a friend.” a friend? He was a stranger but this little girl didn’t need to know that. She ooo’d and aaaahhh’d over the doll a bit longer before her mother called her to board their flight. The girl stood, giggled, waved at Annie and ran on her way. Annie felt the doll shift. She looked down and figured she imagined it since it was still right where she set it between her arm and her body. It was finally time for her to board. Standing and taking the doll with her she got on the plane.
The flight was odd. Every time she would doze off she would have the beginnings of a nightmare she couldn’t remember as she woke back up. Sleep, it would seem, was not happening on this flight. She turned the doll around and began to really examine it. Usually dolls had a pained face but this one didn’t seem to have that. There was no remarkable color on it besides the piercing green eyes. The dress looked like an antique white gown worn to a wedding, and there were black slippers on her feet. The hair was in brown ringlets around her head. The doll was very pretty and remarkable considering it was so different. A chill went up Annie’s spine and she put the doll next to her on the seat again. She grabbed a pair of headphones and plugged in to watch the inflight movie.
Landing in Arizona, Annie departed the plane and went to the baggage claim area to meet her mother. She brought no suitcase with her. She would just buy some clothes while she was here. Her mother waved and greeted her cheerily considering the circumstances of her flight home. “Hello there Annie. You look beautiful.” She hugged Annie and wisked her away to the car. The drive home was quiet. Once in a while Annie’s mother would mention how her grandmother asked about her and talked about her often. Annie began to feel horrible. She wasn’t even there for her grandmother’s last moments. She missed the holidays this year because of work deadlines and only talked briefly on the phone. The doll suddenly felt heavy on her lap. Her mother looked over at her. “I thought you hated dolls?” Annie glanced at the doll. “I do.” She shrugged. No other words were spoken about it. Annie’s mother prattled on about who was coming in town and when, plans that were already made, and what the next couple of days would look like.
The days went by fast. Annie saw more family than she even remembered having. They all shared great memories about her grandmother. Some made her cry while others made her laugh her way to tears. It was finally time to say goodbye. The night before the funeral Annie had a horrible nightmare. Her grandmother was trying to warn her about something but all Annie could do was look over at her with a placid smile and glazed blue eyes. Annie woke with a start the day of the funeral. The doll was on the chair next to her bed. She had sworn it was left in the kitchen. Her mother must have moved it with all of the visitors and she just overlooked it last night. She gave another look at the doll and ignored the shiver she felt. She really really hated dolls. She got up and dressed herself and then met her mother downstairs.
The ceremony was beautiful and many tears were shed. Annie was back at home sitting on the back porch with her mother. “Everything ok?” her mother asked her. “Hmmm.” she nodded and swung a little on the porch swing. Sighing her mother got up. “I’m going in and going to bed. I suggest you do the same soon. You have an early flight dear.” Annie embraced her mother and nodded. “I”ll be in soon.” The backyard was large and nice. The smell of fresh cut grass assaulted her nose. She inhaled deeply and closed her eyes. A noise of something falling near her caused her to open them again. On the floor near the swing was the doll. Annie looked at it. The doll was face down. How did it get out here? She must have brought it down with her at some point. Shaking herself from her surprise she picked up the doll and walked in the house to go upstairs.
Annie drifted off to sleep and dreamed yet again. This time she was sitting on a chair rocking. Nothing was in the room with her and no one seemed to be around. She tried to get up but couldn’t. She tried to look around but couldn’t see much. Her limbs wouldn’t move either. It was such an odd feeling. Annie just wanted to wake up.
Morning shone through the windows of the farm house. The beds were all made and breakfast was cooking. The porch swing creaked as Annie’s mother got up and went inside. She walked around the house picking up small things left over from everyone being there for the funeral. She sighed sadly as she opened Annie’s room door. The bed was already made. She smiled at it and then looked at the chair were the doll sat. She picked it up and took it into the sitting room. There was just a rocking chair in there now. The rest of the furniture was taken out. The house would be put up for sale and everything in it would be leaving. She looked at the doll. It was beautiful. Annie so hated them. She wondered at it. The beautiful glass blue eyes seemed to follow her. She shuddered and left the room closing the door behind her.
She failed to hear the scream issued from the room she just left as she walked down to the kitchen to eat her breakfast. It was a shame that Annie couldn’t make it in town. It was nice of her to send the doll though.