I put one foot in front of the other, and walked home. I really like that phrase. It’s nice. I like to use it whenever I can.
Either way, that was exactly what I was doing. It was Friday, school was over, and my twelfth birthday was this Sunday. I was going to go home and clean up so that we could have a really good party on Saturday, so that we could still go to church on Sunday.
I found a small rock and kicked it around for a couple of blocks, before I ended up kicking it into the road. I wish I had had a friend to talk with while we walked to our houses. Maybe we would live right next to each other, and become best friends! We could spend every night together, and hop over each others fences to grab things from our houses. That would be the best!
Eventually, I got home. I stepped inside, kicked off my shoes, then took off my jacket and hung it up. “Mama, Pop, I’m home!” Most kids call their parents just mom and dad, but I wanted to be cool and different, so I called them Mama and Pop. They seem to like it, too.
“Come upstairs, Jon, I’m in the kitchen,” Mama yelled out to me. I rushed up each step, and hurried into the kitchen.
“Perfect, you’re just in time to lick the cake batter off of the whisk,” Mama handed me the whisk. I thanked her, and did just as she suggested.
“Pop isn’t home quite yet, he went to go get some party supplies,” Mama went to the oven, and turned a knob. ‘Preheating’ is what she calls that. It’s when you let the oven get hot before you try to cook anything.
“That’s okay, Mama. I’ll say hi to him once he gets back,” I took another big lick off of the whisk.
Mama smiled at me. “That sounds fine, Jon. We’ll be heading to the store to get dinner once the oven is preheated and the cake is baking. It shouldn’t take us any longer than an hour, but that’s only if traffic is really bad.”
I nodded at her, with the whisk still close to my mouth.
“I think you should also clean your room while we’re gone. You’re going to get presents, and I think it will be good if you have some extra space to put them.” Mama put her hand on my shoulder, and guided me to the table. We both took a seat.
“I cleaned my room last week, though,” I protested. It was true; I had cleaned my room last week, and I did it well, too.
“I know, sport, but your closet is really jammed up with stuff. Really, it’s just your closet that you need to clean. I don’t think it’ll be that bad, you’ll just get rid of some clothes that you don’t use and toss out some things you haven’t played with for a long time, and don’t think you will for even longer.” Mama was right. I did still have clothes that didn’t fit me in that closet, and I did have some toys that I hadn’t played with in years.
“Alright, Mama. I’ll go clean up my closet after Pop comes back.” I stood up from my chair, and put the whisk in the sink after rinsing it off.
“That sounds fine, Jon.” Mama stood up after me so that she could put the cake in the oven. The oven usually preheats really fast, so Mama doesn’t have to wait long when she preheats things.
Then, because I’m really lucky, I heard the door open from a distance. Pop was home.
“Pop!” I ran over to greet him. He worked in a big, fancy business, so he always wore suits to work. He looked fine in suits, but I think he looked even better in jeans. Jeans are really comfy.
“Hey, buckaroo, how are you doing?” Pop said while he picked me up and tossed me onto his shoulder.
“Pop, I’m getting too big for this. I’m going to hurt your shoulder! I’m too wide!” I tried to climb off of him, but Pop grabbed me and put me down.
“You’re probably right, kiddo. I just don’t remember when you got so big. You’re almost twelve! That’s crazy!” Pop took my hand, and we walked up to the kitchen.
“Yup. Twelve is almost as old as you are, Pop!” Once we got into the kitchen, I hopped onto a chair again and swung my legs.
“I’m not so sure. Thirty-six is three times the age of twelve,” Pop replied. I made angry-eyebrows at him. He just laughed. “Sorry, but you can’t fight facts.”
Mama stood up then. “Well, we’d best get going. It’d be bad if we didn’t have anything for dinner tonight.” She then grabbed her purse and Pop, and started to head out. “Make sure you clean your closet, son!” She shouted at me from the door.
“Will do, Mama!” After they left, I went down into the basement so that I could clean my room. Well, my closet mostly.
I walked into my room, and opened up my closet. It was filled with all sorts of toys and clothes. It also had my guitar that I practiced with every other day, and a few other things. First, I took everything out of the closet and spread it all over the floor. That would make it easier for me to sort out what I should keep and what I shouldn’t.
After clearing out the closet, I sat down in the center of the pile. This was going to take a while. I started sorting things into two piles: things to keep and things that I wouldn’t keep. There were a lot more things that I wouldn’t keep than I would.
After a time, I felt like I had finally sorted through both piles. I didn’t know how long it would take me, but I imagined that Mama and Pop would be home soon. In the meantime, I needed to put away my things back in the closet.
That’s when I noticed a strange little door sitting inside of the closet that I didn’t remember. I thought about it really hard for a few moments, but then I realised that I didn’t have that door when we first moved in. When was it added? Was it while I was on vacation? If so, why did no one tell me about it?
This was perfect! I could put some of my old stuff into that new closet and have extra storage space! I wouldn’t have to throw anything away.
I hopped to my feet, and leaped over to this small door, and opened it up. I crawled into it, and started looking around.
There were dolls all over the wall. There were plastic dolls that looked like Ken, there were porcelain dolls, which were easily the creepiest ones, there were wooden dolls that hung stiffly, and there were even a few dolls made out of metal. I suddenly didn’t want to put my things into this closet.
Then, in the center of this candle lit room, I saw a woman stooped over a table. Her hands were moving furiously. I gasped at the sight of her.
Suddenly, she stopped and turned to look at me.
“Alex… Alex, is that you?” She stood up from the table. She was wearing a red dress that was torn in many places, and had a few patches of blue. The biggest patch of blue was on her right leg. Or was it her left?
“Alex, come here!” She rushed toward me, and picked me up. I wanted to scream, but she covered my mouth.
“God, Alex, I was worried I’d never see you again.” She put me down in a chair, and tied my arms to it.
“MAMA! HELP ME!” I screamed as loudly as I could.
“Sh sh sh… Don’t worry, Alex. I just want us to be together again. We’ll be a family once more.” She started to play with my hair.
“M-m-my name is Jonathon,” I managed to say. “I don’t know anyone named Alex.”
“Oh, Alex, is that what the kids at school told you? Look at all of these dolls! Don’t they look like you? Don’t you like them, Alex?” She held my hands, and I looked around desperately.
I looked around at the dolls, secretly scared. I couldn’t let her see my fear. The dolls did have a similarity to each other, but none of them looked like me. Most of them looked like they could be another boy, but I didn’t know that boy.
“No, miss, they don’t look like me. Their hair is too long, and too dark. Also, I have green eyes and theirs are brown. My name is Jon. Please let me go, miss.”
“What about this one, Alex? I was just making it before you came in. Doesn’t this one look just like you?” The lady pulled the doll off of the table that she had been at before. The doll was made out of what looked liked sewn together shirts and jeans. It was messy, and didn’t look as clean as some of the other dolls. Its eyes were just small holes torn into the fabric, and it didn’t have any hair yet.
“Miss, that doll doesn’t look like me. It looks-”
“Oh! Of course it doesn’t look like you! It’s missing something!” She crawled over to the table where she had it, grabbed something, put it on the doll, then came back to me. The doll now had a full head of hair. “Here we are! It was missing its hair! Isn’t this better?” As she spoke, she shook the doll around in her hands. Every time it was shaken, the hair would fall off, and she would stick it back on.
I took in a deep breath, and collected all of my courage. “Miss! Listen! Your dolls aren’t bad, but they don’t look like me.”
She stood up and stared at me. Her dress was dry and stiff in the places where it was red.
“Alex. I worked hard on these dolls,” Her stare was scaring me, and I wanted to cry. “Are you going to sit there and insult my hard work? The details, don’t matter, but they are you Alex!” She leaned back down toward me.
“I think I could give you some longer hair,” She said that, then took the hair off of the doll in her hands and put it on my head.
“I don’t think that’s enough.” She quickly grabbed a doll off of the wall and tore out its hair and placed the hair on my head. She threw the doll away, and I heard it shatter.
“There. That’s better. Isn’t that better, Alex?” She grabbed my hands and held on desperately. I felt hot tears roll down my cheeks.
“Please, miss. My name is Jon.”
“Alex… Jon. You aren’t Alex. Are you sure?” She stared at me. Her eyes looked empty, and it felt like she was looking through me.
I nodded, still crying.
She sighed. “Alex, I’m going to let you out of the chair. I want you to hug your mother, like a good boy would.” She did as she said, and started to untie my arms.
“There you go, poor dear. Now come hug me.” I stood up, wiped tears off my my face, then ran past her. I looked back, and saw the lady limping after me.
While, I wasn’t looking, I ran into a wall and fell on my butt. I looked up at the wall, and saw something crazy. I stopped my sniffles, and simply admired the doll on the wall. It was made of porcelain, and it almost looked like a real boy. I could have easily pretended that this doll was my younger brother or something.
“Alex!” I shouted. I figured out what the doll was. I looked back at the lady. She was still limping after me.
“Yes! Alex, that’s you!” She smiled at me, got on a knee, and held her arms open for me.
I pulled the doll off of the wall.
“Alex, what are you doing?”
I lifted the doll above my head.
“ALEX! DON’T YOU DARE!”
I threw the doll onto the ground, and it shattered. I saw its face break into a million pieces. One of its eyes didn’t break, and it sat on the ground and faced me.
“Alex! It’s going to take me weeks to fix that doll!” She stood up, and started to limp towards me again.
“Miss! I’m not Alex! My name is Jon! JON!” I was angry now, and I knew that she couldn’t run as fast as me. There was no way that she could get me if I decided to run off.
“Alex, you will not get away with this. You are going to be in a lot of trouble.” Her head started twitching. I felt a lot less brave.
“Miss, I’m still not Alex. My name is still Jon…” My voice got quieter with every word.
“Alex…” She sounded angry and threatening. My eyes got blurry. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I made my feet push me forward, and I ran past.
At least, I tried to run past her, but she managed to grab me again and hold me in one arm.
She held me in front of her and looked at me. Her eyes stared into my eyes. I looked away, and my vision got even blurrier. I held my breath, so that she couldn’t hear me cry. “You aren’t Alex. I can’t make you Alex.” I looked up at her, and wiped the tears out of my eyes so that I could see her face. I wish I hadn’t.
“Then I don’t want you here!” She threw me away from her.
Everything began to move slowly for me. I saw how angry the lady was. I saw the blue of her dress swirl with the red. I felt the wall hit my back, and I felt it crumble behind me. I saw my legs flailing forward and I saw dolls slide off of my skin, pelting me and breaking once they hit the floor.
Then, the tiny closet was in front of me, and there was a large hole in my closet that led into that room. I felt my back hit another wall. I fell to the floor. At least I’m not in the chair anymore.
I looked up at the lady, but she was no longer in the tiny room. I felt my eyes close.
“Mama…” the word left my lips, and I fell asleep.