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Maeve Costello

Grade: 8

Rocky River Middle School

Instructor: Melissa Stickney

Behind the Mask

Flash Fiction

Behind the Mask

I knew that there was something wrong with that doll. I've always known. Even when I was little and I used to play here at my grandma's house I knew that something about that doll just wasn't right.

Was it the way that she sat without her arms supporting her? Or maybe it was how pale her delicate, porcelain face was compared to the over-saturated and colorful house around her. The cabinet that she sat on was a cheerful sky blue color and it sat right in front of the bright green stairs. The whole house had this same color scheme. It was like walking in a rainbow. Even the forks were a brilliant scarlet color.

And then there was this doll. This pale, little thing that was no more than half a foot tall even with her little white boots on.

Maybe the thing that was so off putting about this doll was that she was so normal. She wore a little pale pink dress with lace details and her light blonde hair was done up all pretty with a nice light blue bow.

Or maybe it was the mask that she wore. I knew that her face wasn't real. There was obviously a layer of clear, rubbery glue that was holding her face on to the rest of her body.

I had asked my grandma multiple times about the mask and she always denied that there was a mask. But it was right there! Clear as day, the mask that this little doll wore was hiding something, and I would find out.

"Grandma," I asked with extra sweetness in my voice. "May I hold the pretty little doll that you have in the blue cupboard by the stairs? Please?"

"The one that you always accuse of being broken or something?" by the tone in her old, crackly voice, I could tell that the answer would probably be a no. "Why, did you know that that doll belonged to my great, great, great grandmother. It is over one hundred and fifty years old! No, you may not hold it! You could break it!" she said while sitting on her orange couch waving her walking cane as she spoke.

"I would be so careful and-" she cut me off.

"Sweetheart, that doll is so very precious to me. She will stay in the cabinet." And she did stay in the cabinet. Or, she did for the next fifteen years. I decided to have patience and wait until my grandma had died and nobody could stop me from holding that doll.

It was a late October afternoon when I was cleaning out her house by myself that I remembered the little pale doll. I had the old windows open for the first time in ages to let in the last rays of the autumn sunset. The faded red curtains fluttered in the gentle breeze that brought in a gust of fall air. I hadn't seen the doll for years because I hadn't visited her house while I was in college. But once I walked into the house and smelled the vintage rugs and the old, chipping paint, I immediately was reminded of that small, porcelain face. I rushed to the cabinet which was right where it was fifteen years ago, and carefully opened its doors.

I could hear the creak of barely used hinges and some blue paint chipped off while I opened the door. I then gently placed my hand on the doll just to be sure that she wouldn't turn to dust if I held her and to my surprise, she was very sturdy.

I carefully pulled her out of the cabinet and I was sure to only touch the stiff pink dress that she had been wearing for the past almost two centuries. Once she was safely in my hands, I brushed my hand over her small, delicate features. She was a very well preserved doll. The paint that made her eyes and lips hadn't even begun to chip off. I walked over to the kitchen and set the doll on the kitchen table and got an old gift card out of my wallet. I slowly touched the plastic to the glued spot and began to slide it making an almost saw-like motion. Slowly but surely, the glue began to peel away and soon enough the face was loose enough that I could almost lift it off.

So I was right, there was a mask. I wish that my grandma would have known. That way she wouldn't have thought that I was crazy. I decided to go for it and take the mask off of the doll. I was alone, so who would care if I broke one of my grandma's creepy prized possessions. I carefully slid my thumb under the mask and pulled off the doll's face, only to find that there was nothing under the mask and there was just black under the mask. But then, as another fall breeze was brought in, I heard the sound of a scream, so loud and high pitched that it could break glass.