Short Stories

CHARLOTTE

My sweet neighbour of a few months, Jo, moved, downsize to be exact, and to sell most of her knick-knacks, trinkets, curios, and other articles she had collected over the years.

My first encounter with Ms. Jo was when I moved next to her, and she invited me for tea and scones.

She was such a lovely elegant lady; I accepted knowing in advance from the neighbours across the street that she was an excellent pastry cook and quirky.

How much of a quirk I did not realise until I walked into her parlour and saw at least a 1,000 dolls of all sizes, fashion, texture, and styles.

As we sat in her parlour, Ms. Jo told me stories about the dolls.

When she bought them, who gave her which one and, of course, her favourite, ‘Charlotte.’

Not knowing a thing about dolls, the only way I can describe ‘Charlotte’ is to use Ms. Jo’s own words.

“When I found her at the local op-shop, she wore a beautiful frock with a lace-up bodice, a pretty petticoat, and knee-length lace trimmed panties. She even had a smart pair of cream and fawn lace-up boots,” said Ms. Jo.

“She was a bargain,” Ms. Jo delightfully exclaimed. “I got her for $10.50 at the local op-shop, and she has been my favourite ever since.”

Ms. Jo continues her litany of love toward the doll, saying that she placed Charlotte on a little bedroom chair in her room, looking all tranquil and sad, maybe even wishing ‘Charlotte’ was alive so she could speak with her.

It was a lovely story which I enjoyed even more as I partook of my third, or was it my fourth, scone?

Then Ms. Jo dropped a bombshell.

“I will sell all the dolls in the coming weeks, but I want you to have Charlotte. I know she will be an amazing companion to you.”

First, I was astounded, but then I felt a warm feeling knowing that this treasure Ms. Jo thought so much of would be mine, and I felt honoured.

So, I accepted and took ‘Charlotte’ into my arms and brought her into the bosom of my home.

It only took four weeks for Ms. Jo to sell all her knick- knacks, trinkets, curios, and other articles she had collected over the years as well as all her dolls.

Add another week, and she sold her home.

Add another month, and I stood on my front porch waving to Ms. Jo as she left her home on new adventures, as she calls it.

A few days passed, and I thought of the times I used to see old Ms. Jo watering her flowers or running after her old cat ‘Beauty’ which tended to run out the front door every time she could.

Scared by ghosts she looked like at times, only to be caught and brought back in the cradled arms of Ms. Jo into the home.

A few more weeks passed, and the most darn things began

to happen.

While watching TV downstairs, I would hear voices emitting from my bedroom upstairs.

I never have more than one TV on at the time, and I seldom forget to turn one off or the other on, so I am in bewilderment as to the whereabouts of the voices.

Every time I heard them, I was downstairs and when I went upstairs and entered my bedroom, no voices were to be heard.

No TV on, nor the radio. All you would find is ‘Charlotte,’ sitting on the divan next to my bed, exactly where Ms. Jo suggested I place the doll.

Over time, I gave up investigating the voices, but then, even stranger things happened.

As I slept late into the evening, the same voices would awaken me, but as soon as I opened my eyes, and turned on the nightstand light, nothing.

The TV was not on; the radio was not on, and I never brought my mobile phone into the room, so it could not have been someone calling and the message going into voicemail.

Very strange.

These occurrences went on for a few months until the time I heard the voices, turned the nightstand light and, do not think I had been drinking that night, but I could swear that ‘Charlotte’ had moved from the divan to the chair next to my bed.

Now it is possible that maybe the last time I watched TV on the divan, I might have moved the doll into the chair and just forgot to place it back.

Yes, that had to be it.

I put her back on the divan and went back to sleep.

A few hours passed and again voices startled and woke me. This time I turned the lights on again fast, and I noticed that ‘Charlotte’ was not on the divan but in the chair next to my bed.

OK, now I am not a believer in ghosts or being possessed, but I distinctly remember taking the doll from the chair and placing it on the divan, turning off the lights and going to bed.

I repeated the process and tried to catch a few more minutes of shut-eye before dawn.

Just before dawn, voices streamed into my ears, so close, as if whispered, and I turn and find ‘Charlotte’ in the bed with me.

As I jumped out of bed, the bejeezus scared out of me. I thought I saw a smile on the doll’s face.

A quick shave, a quick shower and at precisely 9:01 am I am at the local op-shop dropping off ‘Charlotte.’

Since then, I hear no more voices in the house, and I wonder to myself if the other 999 dolls Ms. Jo had given to their new owners had the same effect on them.

I for one, am not game to find the answer, nor find Ms. Jo again.

 

Jose’ Nodar    ©    2018

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