"She's such a pretty little thing," my mother cooed.
She held the blonde dolls with large blue eyes at arm's length.
The cold, lifeless glass in the pale face regarded mother's smile with empty indifference.
"Don't you think she's pretty, Katie?" Mother turned the doll toward me.
A creepy feeling slid down my spine as I looked into the pale face of the fair-haired doll.
"I think it's ugly. I don't like dolls."
"Oh, Katie, you'll hurt her feelings." Mother hugged the doll to her chest. "How would you like it if someone said that about you?"
I rolled my eyes. "Mother, please. I wish you hadn't bought it. I won't keep it in my room."
Mother ignored me as she stroked the doll's hair. "Well, I think you're pretty. I wanted a doll like you when I was a little girl."
"Mother, I'm not a little girl," I snapped. "And don't talk to it. It's weird."
"My mother was just like Katie," Mother reminisced. "She hated dolls, she would never let me have one."
"Now I know where I got my sense," I muttered. "I'm going to bed now. Could you take that thing out with you?"
"No, I won't, Katie. I bought her for you and I'm going to leave her on your nightstand so she can be the first thing you see in the morning."
She set the ugly little thing on my nightstand before leaving the room and turning off the light.
After she left I got up and took the doll and put inside my closet. I went back to bed and fell into a fitful sleep.
Some time in the night I awoke to the sound of crying.
I sat up, looking around the dark room. Had Mother come back in? There was no sign of her.
But the crying continued. It continued from my closet.
I pulled my knees up to my chest, fear coming to rest on me like a heavy blanket.
The crying morphed into sobs that continued for hours. I couldn't move, I couldn't call for help. If I did the thing in the closet might have realized I was here too.
Why couldn't my mother hear it? Just as the thing in my closet reached a crescendo of tears it stopped. Complete silence filled my bedroom.
I'm not sure how long the quiet lasted. Just as the terror began to ebb to a bearable state, I heard a voice; low and quiet and childlike.
"Your Mother was right, Katie," it said, almost scoldingly. "That wasn't very nice. I'm not ugly at all."
"YOU'RE the one's that ugly. I'm a doll, stupid. I can't be ugly."
"All dolls are pretty little things."