I was involved in a conversation with a group of students on the subject of ghosts, the other day. I admitted that I don’t know what to think about the existence of spirits, maybe because I have never encountered one.
This caused the students to launch into protracted stories of their own experiences with the spirit world, and the usual “touches in the night” and “weird, unexplained noises,” were repeated in mysterious half-whispers. I wasn’t listening too closely until one of them started talking about possessed dolls.
Now, I’ve always had a problem with dolls, even when I was young enough to play with them. I always thought Barbie had kind of a superior smirk on her face as she stood there in her permanent high heels and fancy suit, judging me in my sweatpants and tank top. However, I have never run into a doll that I thought was possessed or haunted…that is, except for one.
My beautiful Aunt Lois once spent two years teaching in Spain and when she came home, she brought beautiful Spanish dancing dolls for all of her nieces. I will admit the expression on the doll’s face always spooked me a little–she reminds me of one of those supercilious, heavily made-up actresses in a play production, who you get to see close-up as she is grabbing a sandwich at the diner next to the theater. Very unnatural, but still, my doll is a performer too, so maybe that’s all right.
My mother kept the doll safe and preserved on a closet shelf for many years, which is the only reason it survived my childhood, but eventually she turned it over to me. I was so glad! Until I began to have the sensation that it was staring at me…no worse, it was watching me. This feeling was so persistent and pervasive that I took to storing the doll on shelves in rooms where I did not have to see her all of the time.
That’s when the head-popping began. I would pass through the room on some mission or other and I would suddenly realize that the doll’s head was missing. Sometimes, it would be right by the doll and other times, it would be somewhere around the room. I solved this problem by gluing it on the little post that was supposed to hold it on her shoulders.
Eventually, the glue came loose and the head began to swivel on the doll’s shoulders. Sometimes, I would walk by that doll and it had this whole Exorcist thing going, with its head turned to the back. This doll has freaked me out over the years and the conversation with my students got me to thinking about her, stashed as she is on a shelf over the bed in my back bedroom.
Yes, there she was, her head turned forward for a change, staring at me. As I was looking at her, I realized that she was incredibly dusty, so I took her down and cleaned her up. I positioned her head and placed her back on the shelf so she was staring straight out. As soon as I let go of the stand, her head snapped to one side and looked at me.
I was so startled, that I knocked it off the shelf and it fell on the bed where I had been standing and immediately tangled up in my feet and nearly caused me to fall off the bed. When I finally stopped stumbling and staggering and yelling, I realized that the doll’s head was now missing.
Roy came in to see what the commotion was about. “What in the world is going on?”
“It’s the Spanish doll!” I exclaimed. “It was looking at me because it was dirty, so I cleaned it and it turned its head to look at me again and when I knocked it off the shelf, it tried to kill me by making me fall off the bed and now the head is on the floor looking up at me!”
He took one look at me, took the doll out of my hands, plopped the head back on and placed it back on the shelf…where it never moved, of course. “That’s it,” he said, “no more talking ghost stories with your students.”
I’m going to put the doll on a shelf in the garage. Maybe a summer of her staring at Roy while he’s working around the yard will make a believer out of him!