The china doll’s head stares blankly from behind the glass, eyeless, expressionless. The effect is uncanny and the hint of reproof from its sightless eyes unnerves me, neither one of us wanting to give in, but the doll has already won. Lidless and unblinking, the holes left where her eyes should have been have already forced me to turn away in irrational fear that I might be turned to stone as the doll stands head erect, open-mouthed, fingers pointing upwards as if a whole army of dolls waits for her orders to advance. I have to turn my back.
Wherever I turn other faces stare impassively, imprisoned by glass walls. I had always longed for a walking, talking doll to act as my childhood companion but instead I had been given a knitted rabbit which developed moth holes and shed its stuffing, leaving a trail behind us wherever we went.
Now I feel relieved that I had never been given such a pink plastic, yellow haired mannequin, whose unblinking stare has become the stuff of nightmares. I have experienced dreams where adult faces stare down at me, talking, lecturing while I stand silently pleading for forgiveness. Now here she stands before me emotionless and relentless in her admonition.
The child in me quakes and walks away, and I await the sound of smashing glass, the creak of long unused joints and the pattering of plastic soles on shining floorboards. Then I hear a voice murmuring “Mama”, and I begin to run.