The Doll House
The little girl, Emily, had gone missing over 70 years ago. The newspaper clippings were fading but still legible. My Aunt Lizzy had followed the story closely as her daughter was of a similar age to the child, everyone was praying that their children would be kept safe. The whole village had been out trawling the fields, making use of every inch of daylight. The police had become so desperate that they had even enlisted the help of the local psychic.
The psychic told the police that Emily was still in the village and that she felt that she was scared and cold. That was all she could give them.
With nothing to go on the search continued, door to door, houses were turned upside down, ponds and lakes were dredged. There was nothing, not one shred of evidence to give any indication to where she had gone. She had simply vanished.
My Aunt visited the lady across the road from her house every day, Mrs Taylor. Mrs Taylor was as old as the hills and as mad as a hatter, she was well-known in the village. She would sit on her porch every morning and wave to passers-by taking their children to school, on their way to work or the postman on his rounds, although he never delivered anything to her. She was harmless enough but had certainly lost her marbles long ago.
My Aunt would take her some cake or a drawing that her daughter had made for her. They’d sit on the porch and chat over a cup of tea. Mrs Taylor once told my Aunt how this sort of thing had happened before but the people of the village always forget, the parent’s of the missing children always move away, as staying is too painful, full of memories. The people left behind move on with their lives and the stories get forgotten.
She never believed her, she just listened politely. Mrs Taylor always invited my Aunt in to house but she always declined, the old lady was a doll collector and they gave Aunt Lizzy the heebie-jeebies. There were shelves filled with staring eyes that followed you around the room. Mrs Taylor spoke to them as if they were alive, but it kept her happy and stopped her from feeling lonely.
Emily’s parents had last seen their baby on a warm sunny morning, the perfect Sunday. She was playing in the garden with her new dolls house, she’d been given it as a gift just days earlier for her fifth birthday. It was a beautiful old Victorian house complete with furniture and a family. Five figurines, Mother, Father, Son, Daughter and a doggy. Emily would play for hours. She would pretend that the Mother had just cooked a delicious roast dinner and that the children had been out playing in the woods all day.
Emily’s Mum, Susan, had been hanging the washing out just feet away from her daughter. She turned her back for less than a minute to return the laundry basket to the porch and when she turned back Emily was nowhere to be seen. Susan called and called for Emily to come out of her hiding place now, Mummy wasn’t playing anymore; but Emily never appeared. The police were called and the community rallied together to find this lost little girl.
That was over 70 years ago as I said. I found the newspaper cuttings in my Aunt’s attic, the story intrigued me. I wanted to know what happened, did they find the little girl? Did they find who took her?
So here I am back in that village, it wasn’t far from where I live now but it’s as though I’ve slipped in to a time-warp. The village looks exactly like it did back then.
The newspaper cuttings had photographs showing the old market street, the shops, the church and some of the houses of interest from when Emily went missing. They were identical down to the curtains, they obviously weren’t too keen on moving with the times.
I spent a few hours wandering around the creepy village’s main street. Peering in to shop windows, wondering in bewilderment at how they’d managed to keep everything so old fashioned. The newspaper clippings were from 1947, you could see from the shops window displays and adverts that the town was ready to throw itself in to the 50’s. Still, the street was deserted, it was a warm Wednesday afternoon, I’d expected the street to be bustling.
As I carried on down the main street the shops slowly filtered out and were replaced by town houses and cute little detached homes, complete with front porches and white picket fences. The houses appeared to be more up to date than the rest of the town. They didn’t seem so deserted neither; they were freshly painted and the gardens were well tended to, there was even a swing set and tree house in one of the gardens. Nothing at all like the vacant main street.
My Aunt had given me the address of the house she used to live in. It wouldn’t be hard to find; all of the pristine white gates had the corresponding numbers on them, painted and mounted on to plaques.
As I approached the gate I was looking for, the house directly opposite my Aunt’s caught my attention. It was the house that belonged to Mrs Taylor; it only occurred to me because it was exactly how my Aunt had described it. It had not been updated like the rest of the street. It seemed almost dilapidated; the paint was peeling from the wooden slats and a couple of the window shutters had lost a hinge and were just hanging there, teetering on the edge, ready to drop at any moment.
As uninviting as this place was, I was intrigued. Why hadn’t this house been updated? It didn’t just look deserted like the main street, it looked neglected.
My Aunt had said that Mrs Taylor wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. She felt sorry for her though and had never seen any reason to fear her.The other villagers felt differently. Stories of her being a witch and putting curses on women and children of the town circulated every so often, usually around Halloween.
Well I had nothing to be afraid of. Mrs Taylor wasn’t here now, she as in her 80’s when my Aunt lived across the road and that was 70 years ago.
My thoughts suddenly turned to the description my Aunt had given me about Mrs Taylor’s house. It was filled with those antique porcelain dolls with creepy eyes that seem to bore in to your soul.She’d been inside once and after seeing them all lined up she never had the desire to step inside ever again.
I shared those feelings.
I crossed over the tree lined road and made my way towards the garden gate. It looked as though it hadn’t been opened in a decade and I had to give it a good shove to open it. It flew back and banged in to the protruding pathway which had been pushed upwards by some unruly tree roots. A murder of crows flew up from the tree, startled by the noise in an otherwise silent street. I watched the birds fly away then brought my attention back to the path ahead of me. As my gaze moved across the garden I noticed that the mailbox still had the name ‘Taylor’ written on the side. Maybe the house is empty after all, unless the house had been passed down to her children, although my Aunt had never mentioned Mrs Taylor’s family. There was only one way to find out.
Hannah had been gone for a few days now. I wasn’t overly worried, I’m not some weird stalker boyfriend. This was usual for her. As a freelance journalist she often got caught up in whatever story she was researching and became unreachable; mentally and physically. I don’t normally pry in to her research, I like to read the finished product; but the newspapers she’d left scattered across her kitchen were hard to miss. I’d only called round to feed the cat and pick up her mail.
It was the lack of a story that made me curious about Hannah’s research. Why had she decided to re-investigate the disappearance of a child from over 70 years ago? Not only that but why is it taking her three days to do it? Surely she only needs to take a couple of pictures, ask a few questions. There can’t be much else to do and there certainly wouldn’t be any new leads. That should have taken her a day, tops. There was always the possibility that she has gotten so caught up in her writing and has ended up in a motel for a couple of nights. Surely there’s not much to be said here though?
The little girl went missing, she was never found. Unless Hannah has uncovered some terrible secret that has been kept hidden all these years and she’s about to unveil the mystery..? Yes, okay, I should go look for her.
Obviously her phone is switched off.
Maybe I am being paranoid? Should I call the police? Sod it, I can drive down there quicker than the police would answer the phone.
Don’t ever let anyone make you think you’re not good enough.
Follow your dreams right now! Don’t wait until tomorrow,
next week, next year. Stop planning, start doing 🙂
‘Blind faith is no way to run a world’ – Victor Stenger
R = A x EIM x t