Most people have a relic from their childhood they keep around. Maybe it’s a beloved toy they can’t bring themselves to throw away. Perhaps a photo of a captured moment; a happy memory to keep in their wallet. Maybe it’s a scar, from the time they fell whilst doing something beyond their ability, or worse - the scars that can’t be seen, the ones that hide on the inside. Baggage that has moulded who they are. Quirks. Passions. Fears.
We all have something we keep. Mine is a dark wooden box. I hate that fucking box. I hide it away, stuffed at the back of my bottom drawer, wrapped in a tea towel so I don’t even have to look at it. My husband doesn’t know why I refused to have ‘walnut’ laminate flooring in our dining room. It’s because it reminds me of that bloody box.
Well, today he found it, and I don’t know what to do. I freaked out. There are a million ways I could have handled it better, but I panicked, I saw the wood, saw him reach for the clasp. I actually scratched his arm pretty badly without meaning to. I’ve managed to convince him just to drop it for now, but I know he thinks I’m crazy. And, worst of all, I know that the moment I leave this house, he’s going to try and find it, and look inside. And then what?
I suppose I should explain.
Growing up in the eighties wasn’t easy, not for my brother and me at least. To this day, I still don’t know for sure what my mother did for work (though I have my suspicions). What I do know is that we were as close to poverty as it’s possible to get without moving outdoors, or out of mainland Europe. Most people dismiss Liverpool because of the ‘funny accent’, but it has darker shadows than anywhere I’ve ever been in my life. There’s a story about a man who travelled the world on his bicycle; visited every country then returned to England, only to get his bike nicked in Liverpool. That says it all. Just like any city, it’s got its nice parts, then there’s the underbelly, where the scrotes live.
Well we were the scrotes. Me, my big brother Jacob and our occasional mother - who visited us from time to time to sleep and eat. Looking back, it was a lot like having a cat. She’d come when she wanted something, leave whenever she liked, and occasionally bring us gifts we didn’t appreciate or want. Cats bring dead birds. My mother bought gold watches, cigarettes and pot noodles. I was seven years old and I loved her so very, very much.
With no father and an infrequent mother, Jacob had no choice but to become the man of the house. I say house. It was a one room bedsit, with a mattress on the floor. Jacob was twelve years old, and whilst he always seemed like a giant to me, he was too young and scrawny to mix with the bigger kids on the block, especially with a younger sister in tow. So we stayed in the flat most of the time, garnering annoyance and sympathy in equal measures. Our flat was four stories high, and filled with all sorts of wonderful characters you’d cross the street to avoid. There were bad ones, like the old man we only ever knew as ‘Mr Creepy’. There were good ones, like Mrs Cooper, who would give us food whenever we passed her door. But my absolute favourite was a rather large Jamaican lady who called herself Mama Jane.
She had an accent that was thick as treacle, and owned the shop at the bottom of our flat. Mama Jane’s shop was the kind of bric-a-brac weirdo-museum you just don’t see on the highstreet anymore, and since she didn’t mind our company, it became our adoptive home. Whilst the shop sold any type of item you can imagine, Mama Jane had a particular fascination with dolls. If it was miniature and had anything vaguely resembling a face, Mama Jane would buy it, display it in her shop window and pronounce it was “not fah sale”. Even those racist little Golly-Dollies that people used to collect. Sometimes people told her she shouldn’t put them in her shop window, but she just shrugged and said it was her shop, and if people didn’t like it they could stick it where the sun don’t shine. “Nothing with a smile like that can be hateful,” she’d say.
If we helped around the shop, we could play with any toy we liked, but only one. I don’t really know how much we helped, but Mama Jane would let us play with something from her shop almost every day. There was an unspoken code about it, something of a ritual. We wouldn’t pick anything that looked like it would break, and Mama Jane would let us stay in the shop for as long as we liked, providing we didn’t bother customers. This was an easy rule to follow, as there were practically never any customers.
People did bring things to Mama Jane though, and one particular day a tall Jamaican man with dreadlocks dangling over his shoulder brought a walnut coloured box into the shop. I know he was Jamaican, because whenever someone from Jamaica came into the shop, Mama Jane’s accent would intensify to the point where a seven year old Liverpudlian girl could no longer gain any meaning. I was playing with my favourite vintage doll - a horrific sun bleached thing that I called Tabitha - and Jacob was playing with his train, driving it along the stained carpet enthusiastically. “Watch the shop, children,” Mama Jane called behind her as she and the man disappeared into the back to talk business.
After a while, they came back, talking quietly amongst themselves. I could tell Mama Jane was excited. The man’s box was gone, and as he left the shop, Mama Jane locked the door, turned the ‘open’ sign to ‘closed’ then burst into gleeful laughter, stomping her feet and swaying from side to side.
“What you get today Mama?” Jacob asked.
“Oh child,” she said, clapping her hands together, “come see!”
We both placed our toys back carefully on their respective shelves - abandoning a toy meant you did not want it, Mama always claimed - then followed her into the back of the shop. This in itself was something of a rare treat, and her excitement was infectious, even without me or Jacob knowing what exactly we were excited about. Inside her back office, on her desk was the dark wooden box. Now I could see it properly. About the size of two big books, stacked on top of each other, it was locked tight with two brass clasps. Mama Jane brushed her hand along the walnut lid and looked down at us.
“D’ya believe in magic, children?” she asked in a whisper. Her wide eyes made me nod without even really thinking about the question.
“Magic’s for kids,” said Jacob defiantly.
“Hmm, that what you think, is it?” said Mama, her voice purring. She snapped one clasp open, then the other. Pausing with her hand on the lid, she met our eyes and drank us in. I realised I was leaning so far forwards, I was close to toppling on my face.
Whatever Mama was thinking, she decided to proceed, and lifted the lid. Jacob stood on tip toes to peer inside, but I was too short to see. All I could see was the green velvet interior of the case, and Mama Jane carefully lowered her hands inside the box. She was so tender lifting the contents out, at first I thought it was a newborn baby. As I got my first good look, I found myself disappointed. It was just a plain doll made out of a hessian sack. It had black button eyes and a stitched-on smile made from black thread. It didn’t have hands, hair or any clothing. I couldn’t see why Mama Jane was so excited about this boring doll until she placed it down. Rather than crumpling to the floor like every other doll I’d ever seen, it remained upright as Mama Jane took her hands away. Even though it was bent forwards, with its arms almost touching the carpet, it didn’t fall over. Even my childlike grasp of physics told me this was strange, though I didn’t understand why.
Then it began to move. It lifted its hessian arms and straightened, standing completely upright. When it clapped its little stumps together, Mama Jane started laughing in her great, big, booming way that meant something was truly delighting her.
We’d seen puppets before, but they had strings. It was a game that we chose to play along with. This was something else. This was real magic.
I was so enraptured with the moving doll, it took me a long time to notice that Mama Jane was clapping in time with it. When each of its hessian hands joined together, a clap would sound from above me. At first I thought she was copying it, but then as I glanced from one to the other, I realised it was the other way around. The doll was copying Mama Jane’s movements. Perfectly. As though they were twins.
“What is it?” I asked.
“How does it work?” asked Jacob.
Mama Jane just laughed, and began walking around the room. The little doll did the same. As they moved, it almost looked like a syncronised dance routine. She jumped into the air, and the doll leapt off the floor in a mirror image, landing back on its feet with ease. We both applauded in sheer, childish glee.
“I want a go!” said Jacob.
Mama Jane leant over to him and wagged a finger. On the floor, the doll wiggled a stumpy limb. “It’s not so easy, child,” said Mama.
Jacob scrunched up his face, eyes locked on the doll. Mama Jane ruffled his hair and the doll reached into empty space to do the same.
“What’s its name?” I asked.
“He don’t have a name yet.”
That seemed a little sad to me. I waved at him and said “hello!”
Mama Jane waved into empty space, and the doll copied her. Even though I knew Mama was doing it, I was impressed how much it looked like the doll was truly waving at me. Its button eyes were staring right at me. Mama seemed less impressed though, and snatched up the doll, placed him inside the box and clasped it shut so quickly I almost didn’t believe it had happened. She rested over the box for quite a long time, long enough for me and Jacob to share a worried look. When Mama Jane turned around, she had stopped smiling, and her cheeks had gone pale.
“I don’t wancha to tell noone about this, ya hear?” she said.
We both nodded frantically. It wasn’t like we had anyone to tell besides each other.
“Run along now,” she said, scuttling us out of the back office. We said goodbye, but Mama Jane didn’t say it back. The door to the office slammed shut behind us and was promptly locked.
Me and Jacob went upstairs, excitedly babbling to each other about the doll and what we would make it do when we had our turns. I began thinking of names for the doll, but Jacob didn’t like any of my suggestions. Our real mother didn’t come home that night, and I woke up a few times to Jacob accidentally jabbing me with a knee or elbow as he tossed and turned in the night. I remember opening my eyes to see him barely visible in the darkness, staring up at the ceiling.
“You ok?” I asked.
“I don’t get how it works.”
“Mama said it was magic,” I replied, closing my eyes again.
“Magic’s not real,” Jacob said in a grumpy voice, throwing himself onto his side.
That night I dreamed of dancing dolls. Vintage Victorian ones, with rippling dresses. Barbies, all box-fresh and pretty. Golly dollies and cabbage patch kids. All holding hands in a huge circle and twirling, twirling, twirling. At the centre of it all, the hessian doll, with his button eyes and stitched-on smile.
I woke to Jacob nudging me, he already had his shoes on and he was shoving mine in my face.
“Come on,” he said, leaping up and holding the door open for me.
Still rubbing sleep from my eyes, I started walking towards Mrs Cooper’s flat, but Jacob pulled my arm and whirled me towards the staircase.
“But I’m hungry,” I moaned, grabbing my belly dramatically.
“We’ll get food later,” said Jacob.
It was difficult to keep up with him that morning, he leapt downstairs and ran across the halls, stopping and waiting for me whenever he went too far. He grinned like a Cheshire Cat when the back door to Mama Jane’s shop opened, and we crept inside. Mama was polishing shelves, and looked up at us as we entered.
“Good lord children, you out ‘ere early today! I’m thinking you be wanting something?” She chuckled to herself and threw her duster over her shoulder.
“Have you got chores for us, Mama?” Jacob asked.
I watched him closely. We did chores, sure. But we never asked for them. Especially not Jacob. He was up to something. It didn’t pass Mama Jane’s notice either. She narrowed her eyes at us.
“Dat what ya both want, is it?”
I looked down at the floor, instinctually trying to look small and pitiful. “I want food,” I said in a small voice.
She let out a disapproving ‘hmm’. That was the sound she often made when we discussed our mother, either directly or indirectly. She held out her hand and led me through the back. As we walked away, she called to Jacob over her shoulder.
“Ya can clean the windows then boy! Keep gwan ‘til ya see ya face in dem!”
Mama Jane didn’t make us food very often, but I was hoping for a bit of lamb patty she’d shared with us once. No such luck on that day though; I just got jam on toast. She picked me up and let me sit on the counter of her makeshift kitchen, humming to herself as she buttered the toast and spread the jam. I told her of the names I’d thought for the doll, and she said they were pretty. After I’d eaten the last crust (Mama Jane would have never let us eat outside the kitchen) we walked back into the shop. I was ready to do some chores now, if it meant getting to play with the doll again. But as we walked around the shelves, the shop was empty. Where my brother should have been cleaning windows, there were just dingy net curtains and dolls perched on wooden chairs. Mama Jane walked outside, bell jangling as she looked left and right, but Jacob wasn’t there. She came back inside, eyes darting around the shop. I tried looking too, but I couldn’t see Jacob anywhere. My eyes fell on the door to the back office, which Mama Jane always kept locked.
Mama Jane seemed to have the same idea, and walked over to it, testing the handle. It opened. She pushed the door open and in the centre of the room was Jacob, scrambling on his knees. The walnut box was wide open, green velvet insides on show. Jacob was crying, and kept turning so we couldn’t see what he had in his hands.
“I just wanted to see how it worked!” he said through tears.
He turned to us, and stuffing spilled out of his hands onto the floor. There was a small gash in the side of the doll, and Jacob’s pocket knife lay on the floor, still open. I began crying too. Mama Jane moved over to Jacob, but as she moved, the doll stayed still. I charged towards Jacob and shoved him as hard as I could.
“You killed him!” I cried, eyes stinging so badly I couldn’t even see my brother. “He didn’t even have a name yet!”
Mama Jane said nothing, and as I wiped away my tears on a sleeve, I saw Jacob only had eyes for her, fearfully waiting for her reaction. We’d never seen Mama Jane angry, not really. She was a woman who gave a hint of what her anger could feel like, and that made you never want to prod further. In that moment, I became afraid too. Afraid that we’d lose our second home. Afraid that we’d lose Mama.
She plucked the doll from Jacob’s hands and carried it over to her desk without saying a word. Mama calmly scooped up the stuffing pieces from the floor. The only sound was Jacob’s choked sobs and my sniffles. Once every piece was on the table, she gazed down at the doll, shook her head and muttered something under her breath. Then she buried her head in her hands and said “this is a very bad thing you’ve done, Jacob.”
It was the first time I’d ever heard her call either of us by name. We were always ‘child’ or ‘children’. Mama Jane began to cry, and to our complete surprise, she turned and wrapped both of us into a tight hug.
“I’m really sorry Mama,” whispered Jacob, “can you fix him?”
Still clutching one another, we walked over to the desk and stared at the unmoving doll. He looked so sad now, half deflated with his insides missing.
“I’m not sure I should Jacob,” said Mama Jane, clamping hold of my arm and squeezing tight. “Some things in this world aren’t to be toyed with.”
Nodding to herself, Mama released us both and began to pull out the rest of the dolls stuffing. Once there was nothing left, she placed the doll back inside its walnut box and closed the lid. She placed it high on a bookshelf that even she could barely reach, and gathered up the stuffing into a pile.
“I’m sorry Mama,” said Jacob again.
“Run along now, children,” she said without looking at us.
We skulked out without another word, walked back up into the flats and spent the rest of the day sulking in our bedsit. Our own mother came home that night, quite late, collapsed without a word at the side of us onto the mattress. I waited until she fell asleep, then cuddled her arm.
Mornings with mother were terribly quiet. We would wait to see what mood she was in, creeping around and whispering. At the time, it just seemed like a game to me. It seems considerate not to wake her. I realise now Jacob was doing it to extend the time we had where she wasn’t awake.
The sirens ruined that. Police. Ambulance. More police. Something bad had happened, and our mother was convinced we should stay inside until they went away. Me and Jacob peeked through the curtains, watching the street below, but we couldn’t see anything other than the tops of cars and people gawking at our building.
Eventually, anyone in uniform left, and our flat returned to normality. We could leave, and our mother was first to do so. Me and Jacob visited some neighbours, but kept inside the halls, too afraid to go back to Mama Jane’s so soon. Mrs Cooper made us peanut butter sandwiches, and taught us how to tell the time. Or tried to, at least. We asked her what had happened with the police, but she said we didn’t need to worry about that.
The next day, when we tried to visit Mama Jane, her door was locked and covered with tape. It said ‘police’ on it, but neither me or Jacob really knew what that meant. We went outside and tried to go to the front door, but that was locked too. It would be two more days before we found out Mama Jane was dead. Murdered, our mother said. Our neighbours had spared us all the gruesome details, but we pestered our mother until she spilled every last drop. Someone had stabbed her to death. They’d tried to make it look like suicide, but it was too obvious. They’d cut her open then put the knife in her hands.
I cried myself to sleep that night. Jacob refused to lie down, and curled up in a ball near the corner of the room. Our mother got sick of our whining and left in the middle of the night. She said Mama Jane was a bitch anyway, and probably got what was coming to her. I didn’t believe that. I think that was the night any love for my mother began to unravel for me. She said a lot of nasty things that night. Things I don’t truly remember, but I remember how it made me feel.
Days passed, and we began to hear more details. Mama Jane hadn’t just been stabbed. She’d been disemboweled. Her intestines had been pulled all over the floor, and parts of them were missing.
When we heard that, we crept downstairs the same night, and Jacob showed me a trick with a pocket knife, a debit card and a door lock. I’d never been inside Mama Jane’s shop in the darkness, and everything about it took on a dark tilt without her in the world. I clutched hold of Jacob as we made our way towards the office, where Jacob repeated his trick. Inside the room, I noticed the only thing different about the shop other than no light and no Mama. The carpet. A huge rectangle of carpet had been cut up and removed, just beneath the desk. At the time, it had baffled us. Now I know that was where she had died.
Of course, there was only one thing we wanted to check. One suspicion we couldn’t let lie. Together we moved the chair and the desk, and Jacob climbed on top to reach the walnut box. As soon as he placed it down and ran his thumbs along the clasps, I wanted to leave. I wanted to forget the whole thing. I missed Mama and I couldn’t bring her back. I was just a little girl, but I knew, I knew nothing good could come of this. But I couldn’t stop Jacob. He snapped open the clasps and threw back the lid.
The doll was still inside. But it was whole again. The gash Jacob had made had been stitched back together. It’s stuffing was back, apparently.
“Maybe Mama fixed it?” I hissed, creeping towards the door.
Jacob clearly wasn’t happy with that explanation, and he reached into the box to pick up the doll. As he did, it squelched. I had no comparison as a child, but it was the sound that raw chicken fillets make if you squeeze them together. Disgusted, Jacob flinched, and dropped the doll onto the floor.
It twisted in the air.
And landed on its feet with a squishy noise.
I don’t know how long we stared at that doll for. Neither of us dared move. When Jacob finally moved to pick up the doll, the doll took a step forward too. This made Jacob flinch back, yank his hands away, and the doll copied him on the floor, stumbling back then raising its little stumps defensively.
“Pick it up!” Jacob screamed.
I tried to calm him down - we were supposed to be keeping quiet - but my brother was being hysterical.
“Pick it up!” he screamed again, his voice high-pitched and terrifying.
I did it. I reached down and picked up the little doll. It was moist and soft in my hands. It made that same sickening squelch as I placed it down in its box. Jacob paced around the room, head in his hands, babbling to himself so fast and so quietly I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I couldn’t take my eyes off the walnut box. It wobbled around as the doll walked into its edges, trying to imitate Jacob’s movements in what tiny space it had. I didn’t really understand why Jacob was so scared. I was glad the doll was back to normal and alive again. We might have lost Mama, but at least we had the doll.
“Did Mama fix you?” I asked him.
The doll stopped pacing, looked up at me and nodded.
To my side, Jacob let out a sheer animal yelp of fear. He toppled onto the floor, kicking himself away to curl up against a wall.
“It made me move!” he cried, lips quivering, tears streaming down his face, “it made me move!”
I looked inside the box. The doll was imitating Jacob perfectly, pushing backwards and shaking with fear. I didn’t truly understand, I was just a little girl, but my brother’s fear was enough to make me close the box and encase the doll in darkness. Without knowing what to say, I did the only thing I knew how and curled up next to my brother, hugging his arm as he cried like a baby. He was always the strong one. Always the protector, who knew what to do next. God knows I didn’t. We must have sat together like that for a long time. Eventually, he composed himself and said “we need to hide it somewhere.”
He stood up, sliding free from my grip and nodded to himself.
“We need to hide it somewhere nobody will ever find it.”
And he did. Jacob made me stay upstairs in the flat whilst he went out. He refused to tell me where he’d go, but he was gone for three hours. When he came back, it had just started raining, and his clothes were wet. He didn’t say anything as I helped him undress. But when he lay on the mattress, I wrapped the duvet around him, as he had done so many times for me. He met my eyes then, and smiled.
“Love you,” he whispered.
We fell asleep hugging, and when I woke up, for the first time in my life, I was alone.
No mother. No Jacob. The front door was still ajar. Our singular room had felt small all my life, but in that moment it felt impossibly large and daunting. I searched the flat for him, I walked the halls, I cried. Mrs Cooper eventually rang the police and I stayed at hers until they arrived. Of course, it didn’t take long for a picture to be painted. Missing boy. Abandoned girl. I never saw my mother again.
Turned out I had an Auntie though. I stopped with them that night, and I never said a word. Especially not when I found out Jacob was dead. Years later, I would learn police found him floating face down in the canal. It got recorded as an accidental death; just another kid who ran away from home, slipped into the waters and couldn’t climb back out. But I knew the truth. Jacob wouldn’t run away, not without me. It had been the doll. Jacob threw him away, so he had thrown Jacob away. Mama Jane had pulled out his insides, so the doll had done the same to her.
My Auntie had a huge flat, and I got to sleep in the bed whilst she stayed on the sofa. I’d never slept in an actual bed before, but that night I didn’t really appreciate the experience. My body clearly did though, as I fell asleep not long after my Auntie wished me a good night and turned the light off.
I dreamed that night. A vivid dream that I was walking down a cold, wet street. The glare from the lamp posts above me made me want to blink and squint, but for some reason I couldn’t, and they were impossibly large, towering over me. One hand was behind me, dragging something. For a long time, I just kept walking, but some numb part of my mind wondered what I was dragging. I turned, and met Jacob, staring at me with wide, glassy eyes. He was sat upright, and I was dragging his coffin. It was filled with dark, dirty water up to his shoulders.
The sight of it was enough to shock me out of my dream. I wanted to sit upright, throw my covers off and find my newly discovered Auntie. But I couldn’t move. I couldn’t even blink. Locked in position, all I could do was stare at the ceiling and wonder why it felt like there was ground beneath my feet, even though I was lying down in bed.
Then my arm moved. It’s a difficult sensation to describe. It was like cramp, or a spasm, without the pain. My muscles were moving, but I wasn’t in control. I couldn’t even try to wrestle with it. I couldn’t strain or fight it. I could only watch as my right arm lifted, bending at the elbow. My hand formed a fist, and as though I were knocking on a door, my hand ‘knocked’ the air.
There was the faintest little ‘tap tap’, perfectly in time with my gesture. Then my paralysis melted away and I was back in control. After flexing my fingers and wiggling my toes, I threw back the covers and looked around the room. Something had made a noise, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I looked under the bed and inside the drawers, opened the cupboard and climbed the table to search the shelves. As I walked back to the bed, something took hold of me and my entire body went rigid. Again, my hand made a fist and raised to knock on nothing at all. I let out a little whimper, not wanting to scream and wake up my auntie. As my knuckles rapped on the air, once again I heard the faint ‘tap tap’. This time I realised where it was coming from.
I was released again, and almost fell to the floor as my muscles struggled to adjust to my sudden regained control. The curtains were drawn over the window, and I made my way over, slowly peeling them back. It was so dark outside it was hard to make anything out, but the dim orange haze from the street lights at least let me see there was something on the exterior window sill.
A walnut box. Open. And staring through the window at me were two glinting black button eyes.
My brother’s killer. Mama Jane’s killer.
The doll had come back for me.
How had it got here? Had it been controlling me while I slept? Walking down the dark streets of Liverpool, dragging its wretched box and making me dream of coffins?
We watched each other for a long time. It didn’t take control of me. That made me think it was waiting to see what I did. Jacob and Mama Jane had been retaliation for the way they treated it.
As quietly as I could, I opened the window, and carefully pulled the box through, doll still standing inside. My hands were shaking so much that any normal doll would have shaken too. But even though the walnut box trembled in my hands, the doll stood completely still.
I closed the window. The doll was drenched from rainwater, and with the window shut I could almost feel the stench rising upward. I lowered until our eyes were inches apart, then kissed him softly on the top of his hessian head. It was wet on my lips, and the smell was unbearable.
“Goodnight Mr Buttons,” I whispered.
Picking the doll up, I laid him tenderly down in his box - trying my best to ignore the squelch - and found a little dust cloth to wrap around him like a bedsheet. Closing the box, I hid it under a few papers in one of my Auntie’s drawers. I went to bed, but didn’t sleep.
By the end of the next day, when nothing bad had happened, I repeated my actions of the previous night. Open the box, take out Mr Buttons, wish him “good night”, tuck him in, close the box. The kissing was the hardest part, and the smell, but I’d hold my nose and keep a tissue to wipe my lips. When it kept working, I kept doing it. I’ve done it every night since Jacob’s death. On Christmas eve. After nights out with friends. My wedding night. I still do it to this day. Jacob’s birthday is always the hardest, but I don’t even need to force myself to do it anymore. In fact I think it will feel strange to stop.
I never told anyone about any of this, because even as a child I knew nobody would believe me. But now my husband has found the box. We want children soon. What if they find it one day? It’s too horrible to even think about. I’ve been trying to decide what to do all day, but my mind is finally made up. Jacob and Mama hurt the doll, but they didn’t destroy it. It only took revenge after they’d done something to it. But if I destroy it, completely and utterly remove it from this world, it wouldn’t be able to take its retribution against me.
That’s my plan, anyway. If it doesn’t know what I’m planning, it won’t be able to get revenge. But I don’t know how any of this works. I never have.
I have to try. For my husband. For my future children.
Tonight, I’m going to kiss the doll good night, as I always do. I’m going to tuck him in and close the box. I’m going to wait for my husband to fall asleep and creep downstairs. And then I’m going to burn that fucking box, with the doll inside. I’ll wait until it’s nothing but ashes, and then I’ll pour more petrol on the flames. I’ll watch it burn all night. For Jacob. For Mama. I’m going to end this horrible doll once and for all.
Good night, Mr Buttons.