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Doll on the Wall by Christina Hagmann

Updated: Nov 4, 2020

Quickwrite - A Story Written in 30 minutes

“Jessica, just read your book.” Garrett rolled his eyes at his best friend who glanced around the room taking in the surrounding students slumped in their seats in various positions, captivated by the pages of their books. She could hear the fluttering of pages like the pitter-patter of children’s feet across a hardwood floor.

The walls in the small classroom were covered with overstuffed bookshelves that left behind a stale perfume of ancient texts. Jessica picked up her book to read, but her eyes wandered back to her phone that remained out on her desk.

“Don’t do it,” Garrett warned, already knowing that Jessica couldn’t resist the temptation to check her phone. “You’ll get it taken away.”

She sighed, leaning closer to whisper to Garrett. “I hate reading. I hate this class. And I hate Ms. Sneed.” He raised an eyebrow before Jessica continued. “Well, no. I don’t hate Ms. Sneed. She can’t help it. She’s a weirdo who loves books more than people. I just don’t understand why she needs all of us to love books too.”

Ms. Sneed looked up and Jessica pretended to look down at her book. When the teacher’s eyes went back to the computer, Garrett continued. “It’s her job. And you should be thanking her. You won’t be able to play soccer next year if you can’t read any of your assignments. High school is going to be a lot harder than this.”

“Blah, blah. That’s what they all say.” Jessica pulled one leg up and settled her chin on her knee, her eyes traveling back and forth across the page as the words swam through her head.

“Ms. Sneed,” Rianna waved her hand at the teacher who was currently hunched over her computer trying to input attendance. “Ms. Sneed, I found that creepy doll you hid. Why doesn’t it have eyes?“

“That’s nice,” Ms. Sneed answered. Not hearing Rianna’s question, or choosing not to answer it, she typed something on her keyboard.

Jessica’s eyes moved to the ugly, battered thing that squatted on the bookshelf next to her desk. Her lip curled in disgust. “Geez, that thing scares the heck out of me.” She hadn’t even noticed it sitting there. Since Ms. Sneed started this weird Halloween Doll on the Wall game, Jessica had barely glanced at the doll.

Garrett put his hand over his mouth, stifling a chuckle. “It looks like you, Jess.”

“Shut up. I have green eyes, as opposed to no eyes.” Jessica stared into its black eyes. Old dolls gave her the creeps.

“Very special people have green eyes.” Jessica jumped when Ms. Sneed’s voice came from right behind her, as though she was learning over Jessica’s shoulder. Jessica hadn’t even seen her get up from her desk.

She made a face that Ms. Sneed couldn’t see before turning to face her teacher. “Ms. Sneed? I can’t read with that thing staring at me. Can I turn it around?”

Ms. Sneed shook her head. “Oh, I wouldn’t dare touch that thing. It curses anyone who touches it.”

“But then how did it get there?” she questioned, her voice oozing with sarcasm.

Ms. Sneed shrugged, shuffling off to help a student find a book at the bookshelf in the front of the room. With her teacher’s back turned, Jessica pulled out her phone and glanced at her Snapchat notifications.

“Jessica, just read your book otherwise you’ll be stuck in 7th grade English forever.” Garrett settled down in his seat and opened his book.

She slipped her phone in her pocket and picked up her book, trying to concentrate on the words that came in and out of focus on the page.

When the bell signaled the end of class, the herd moved en masse toward the door. Lunch was next, and Jessica could feel her stomach lurch with hunger. As they spilled out into the hall, she stopped, causing Garrett to run into her. Some of his books fell to the ground and students parted around them, still pushing forward to their lockers.

“What’s your deal?” Garrett asked, piling his books on his arms as kids moved all around him, rushing to be first in line for lunch.

“I forgot my water bottle. Come with me. I’m not going in there alone.” Jessica dragged Garrett back to Ms. Sneed’s room, but it was empty. No Ms. Sneed. She must have walked out when they did, probably getting her own lunch.

Walking over to her desk, she bent over to grab the bottle and came face to face with the creepy doll. “Ugh, that doll.” Then she had an idea. She plucked it off the bookshelf and dropped it to the floor, kicking it under the desk.

“What are you doing?” Garrett asked.

“You don’t really think it’s cursed, do you?” she challenged him.

“No, but it’s a teacher’s property, and that was disrespectful.” He leaned down to see where the doll went, but his books almost toppled from his arms again. He stood upright.

“You’re such a goody, goody Garrett. Come on, it’s time for lunch.” She dragged Garrett back out the door and all the way down the hallway as he protested.

Later that night, after soccer practice and a shower, Jessica cuddled in her bed to do her homework. Her damp hair chilled her, and she pulled the blankets up to her chin.

“Jessica? Are you doing your reading?” Her mom called up the stairs.

“Yes, mom.” She was sprawled on her bed with her book next to her, but she wasn’t reading. She was on her phone, watching one of her favorite YouTubers, but she kept an eye on her door just in case her mom came in to check on her.

It didn’t take long for her to grow drowsy. She closed her eyes, drifting like a teeter-totter between sleep and awake when her brain registered a gentle tapping across her hardwood floors.

Her eyes opened. The room was dark but for the lamp that cast little light beyond her bed. She squinted beyond the reaches of light, unable to tell if her door was open or not. She always closed it when she went to bed, but she couldn’t remember actually doing it.

She considered the icy floor on her bare feet and how that would jolt her awake, but it was a risk she was willing to take. Rolling on her side, she heaved her legs over. She took a deep breath and in one swift movement, hopped across the cold floor to her door, pulled it shut, and stopped, staring momentarily at the handle.

Behind her came a light tapping noise.

She spun on her heels, scanning the room for the source of the noise. “What the?” she asked no one, before sprinting back to bed and burrowing deep under the covers, pulling them up around her ears so she couldn’t hear anything.

She could only hear her muffled breath under the covers, and her rhythmic breathing lulled her to sleep. Just when she started to drift off, she heard the rustling of blankets. Her eyes popped open as she looked up at the ceiling, not wanting to move for fear there was someone in the room with her.

There was more rustling. She felt a tug on her blankets. It was coming from the foot of her bed.

Jessica peered over the bunched up blankets, but she couldn’t see anything. She lifted her chin, gazing to see over the folds.

Then she saw it.

A lump under the blankets.

At first, there was no change. Then, she watched in horror as lurched at her, moving up the bed.

She drew her feet up so as not to touch whatever was under the blankets. She tried to scream, but her breath caught in her throat, and soon she was choking. It was as though all air had been sucked from the room.

The thing lurched closer, and she tried to call out again, fumbling with the blankets in an attempt to shove them away.

She twisted off the side of her bed, her feet trapped in a tangle of bedsheets. Lying flat on her back, clutching at her throat, her eyes bulged as her brain misfired from lack of oxygen.

The doll from Ms. Sneed’s room, with its empty black eyes, peered over the bed at her, its movements lurching like a puppet on a string, but there were no strings on this doll.

It’s not real, Jessica thought. It can’t be.

She reached up on the nightstand, trying to get her hand around her phone to call for help. But it clanged to the floor and twirled out of her reach.

Jessica’s vision swam around the edges of her eyes, threatening a blackout.

But the doll continued its approach, crawling down the bed skirt toward her. Once more, Jessica tried to scream, but it was too late. The doll was upon her. The dark void of its eye sockets swallowed her whole. Blackness took over her world.

Garrett walked into class the next day, expecting to find Jessica in her assigned seat, but it was empty. He checked his phone again. He had no notifications from her, which was almost unheard of. Maybe her mom took her phone away because of her grades. Garrett took a seat and opened his book to read.

By the time the bell rang, Jessica was still not in her seat.

Rianna had her hand up even though Ms. Sneed was at her desk doing attendance. “Ms. Sneed, I found the doll again. It’s over here on the wall. That’s funny, I could have sworn that doll had no eyes. Ms. Sneed? Were the eyes on that creepy doll of yours always green?”

Garrett only half registered Rianna’s question and felt a sense of deja vu. Didn’t they talk about this yesterday? He let the thought leave his mind as he settled into reading.

“That’s nice.” Ms. Sneed did not answer Rianna’s questions, but the corner of her mouth crooked in a smile.

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