When I was a young lad, back in the days of VHS, Rick Astley and shoulder pads, my family owned a toy doll. It was the doll of a blonde-haired boy - very similar to me and almost as tall, strangely, back then - with a blue outfit, glazed eyes and a cruel, cherubic face. I can't remember to whom it actually belonged; maybe it was a family heirloom passed down the years. Anyway, my memories of the doll consist of just noticing it lying around the house, discarded and dormant, but waiting. Waiting for me to come along. The doll was, to me, something from a fever-nightmare, gangly and loose-limbed. As a five-year-old boy, I was terrified of the doll, as I was of all kinds of imaginary monsters and bad things. But the doll was real. My clearest, most terrifying memory of it, is coming face-to-face with it while my older brother was carrying me, and he decided to pick it up and hold it inches away from, its moronic eyes staring into mine as it seemed to slyly grin at me. I remember screaming and crying, experiencing the kind of fear that only little children can feel, and I managed to flee from the staring doll and my laughing brother. That was the last I ever saw of the doll.
I can empathise with people's fear of creepy dolls. I understand why dolls are such a successful horror trope. They seem to bring out a particular sort of dread. Well, in me, they do.
I don't know what happened to the doll that plagued part of my youth. Maybe it was donated to a charity shop or thrown away. I sometimes wonder where it ended up. Maybe it's out there, skittering along empty back roads and alleyways, or stalking across sodden fields in search of another little boy to become friends with.
Maybe it's outside my house now, peering in at me, staring and gibbering, as I write this post.
I'll make sure to lock the doors tonight.