Lucy loved her little harlequin doll.
Her grandmother gave her the doll on her fifth birthday, telling her it was an heirloom and very precious and she was finally old enough to take proper care of it. Lucy solemnly took the responsibility and promised to keep the doll from harm always. She asked her mother to place it high on a ledge in her bedroom, above her library of childhood books. Up there it could watch over her, but be too high for her troublesome brothers to reach or damage it, as they would otherwise have a want to do.
She told her mother that sometimes in the depth of night she would wake up and look up to see the red eyes of the doll glowing, watching over her. When she talked this way her mother would chuckle at her imagination. Lucy would protest that this was true, but whenever she tried to get her mother to see the phenomenon the red lights would disappear from the doll’s eyes and so she wouldn’t be believed.
This didn’t make Lucy love the doll any less. She came to think of it as their special secret, and that the doll was alive and only she knew that. Each afternoon when she came home from school she would tell the doll her secrets and her dreams, and when they were very, very special the red eyes would glow all the more brightly that night.
One day Lucy came home crying, having been bullied at school by one of the older girls. Her mother tried to comfort her, but she could not be consoled. Eventually she ran to her room and relayed all her grief and fear to her little doll. That night the eyes blazed, watching over her, and the next day the doll was gone.
Lucy was too distressed to go to school. Her parents could not convince her to give up her search. She accused her brothers, who swore they were innocent. She demanded her parents to admit they had taken the doll. But none admitted anything, and nothing could be done about it. At the end of a terrible day she fell to fitful sleep, too tired to grieve any more.
Then in the middle of the night she awoke to find the red eyes gazing at her again. She cried for joy, then fell asleep again.
The next day school was suddenly closed. The headmaster said it was because one of the children had died, had drowned in a nearby lake. No-one knew how, or why, but Lucy understood when she heard who it was. The dead girl had been her bully, and she’d died when the beloved doll had gone missing. And now the girl was dead and the doll was back.
Lucy went into her bedroom that afternoon and looked up at the harlequin doll.
The doll looked back at her, calm and gentle as ever.
“Thank you,” said Lucy to the doll.
(c) Helen M Valentina 2017