When I was twelve, my family and I stayed with my grandparents while my father was training on the east coast with the military. Having spent my entire life in the Midwest, living in New Mexico was very strange for me, but I knew it’d be temporary: as soon as Dad got orders, we’d be moving. We had been there several months when my mother’s little brother and his wife popped in to visit. Auntie D loved dolls so Uncle M bought her a little clown doll as a surprise while they were visiting.
We got home from school one day to see this little doll sitting on the sofa; Auntie had placed it there before they went out for the day. He was 6 inches tall, positioned to be sitting with his hands out, holding a “jack-in-the-box” that didn’t open. He had porcelain hands, feet and face, those horrifically realistic blue glass eyes, and had a music box in his belly that played some romantic song like “When You Wish Upon a Star” or �Dream a Little Dream�.
The first thing we noticed was that this doll was sitting with his face toward the front door, even though the sofa wasn’t straight on to the doorway (he was almost sideways on the sofa). Expectant is the best word to describe the look on its face: this doll’s painted face seemed to be waiting for us to get home– or Auntie to get home, anyway. I looked at my sister, and we both shrugged, trying to blow it off. I didn’t know what to think, so I turned him to face the pillows, buried face-first in a huge pile of sofa pillows. I knew I didn’t want it looking at me (even if I couldn’t articulate that thought at the time).
We went to change out of our school clothes and when we came out the doll was turned back around, facing the hallway (where we could see it straight away when we came into the front room). Our Grandmother was in her room changing, she hadn’t come out yet, and our brother was out back – he had gone right through the house, not stopping in the front room. I looked at my sister, gulped and said, �I don’t care much for this thing�.
She agreed. I picked it up to push it back into the sofa cushions, and nearly dropped it – �it was so cold! I thought it felt frozen, even the cloth body felt like it was solidly frozen. We placed in into a pile of cushions – the air in the front room suddenly felt like a walk-in freezer (in New Mexico, in August). I knew our uncle would be leaving soon, and that he’d be taking that hideous doll with him, so I hoped the feeling of nausea would pass.
That doll seemed to haunt us, my sister and I. No matter where we went in the house it was there: our room, the front room, the dining room, the cupboards in the kitchen. I even found it on top of the piano when it was time for my to practice – that thing seemed to be grinning so knowingly at me. My first thought was that my brother, knowing I hated clowns, that they terrified me (had since I was a very small child) was tormenting me. However, when I went to my mother, exasperated and upset, he swore he hadn’t even seen it, let alone put it on my pillow.
Every time I had to touch it, to move it, that doll felt cold as ice, and very heavy… too heavy for such a small thing. Of course, my Auntie loved it, and thought nothing of the fact that it was never where she put it. She thought with everyone around (including dogs) that either a person or pet was moving her beloved clown. Everyone else seemed to brush it off, as though it was the single most normal thing on earth: a doll that moved itself.
Everyone except my sister and I, that is. My sister and I got more and more uncomfortable around it, until finally I asked if someone couldn’t put it up or something. �I scares me,� I said, hoping that, even if I was a big girl of almost thirteen I could rely on my well known phobia of clowns. Auntie D relented, and packed it in her luggage (I watched her do this myself). She zipped her suitcase closed and I breathed a sigh of relief thinking it would be all right now.
That night I woke up thirsty; it was about two am and the whole house was sleeping. I got up and went through the hall and into the front room, heading to the kitchen. My grandmother had a very real fear of the dark and so always used night-lights (she would turn on the bathroom lights as well). She even kept the light over the sink on, in the kitchen, so the house was never very dark; of course this made it hard for us to sleep, so often we’d close our bedroom doors (otherwise it was bright enough to lay in there and read). When I got to the doorway of the front room, I stopped.
The front room was so cold I could see my breath. Sitting on the sofa was that damnable clown doll. I took a moment to calm myself, thinking furiously, trying to be rational: �Ok, the a/c must be acting up, or I’m seeing things because the night-lights are on and the shadows are weird, or something…� my thoughts trailed off, and it took everything I had not to scream. The doll had rolled his eyes over to look right at me. His head followed. Looking back now, the doll had the same body language as a bored woman does when you ask her to �please look at this�… it rolled its eyes exaggeratedly, peeking out of the corners at me, and then very slowly moved its head.
I was raised in a Baptist home, very faithfully Christian, so I made the (what I thought was educated) assumption that a devil had somehow possessed that doll. I prayed for strength and then told it in the most authoritative voice I could �Leave me alone, you’re not welcome here. The Blood of Jesus covers this home, and therefore covers you, leave us now!� I walked over to the nearest lamp, trying to be braver than I felt, and switched it on. Light poured all over the sofa and doll, as well as myself.
The painted grin animated now, grinning bigger and bigger and finally showing me teeth. I am sure you all expect pointy, meat-rending teeth, but no, it had the most perfect-chiclet smile I’ve ever seen on a doll, but that made it so much worse. I suppose I expected a demonic smile too, not this bland beautiful, too-toothy-in-an-adorable-kind-of-way smile. Slowly, slowly he shook his head back and forth, as though telling me �No�.
That doll and I stared at one another for what seemed like hours. That grin, gleaming in the lamp light, while I kept trying to blink it away. I rubbed my eyes, closed and opened them over and over, and still that doll sat there looking at me, grinning. I glanced over to the VCR and noticed I’d been awake about ten minutes; I pinched my arm, hoping I was dreaming. �I’m just having a nightmare,� I said to myself over and over, wishing it was true.
I was at a loss, and decided to go back to bed. It sounds silly now, but I thought if it was going to kill me that at least I’d go to heaven. I hadn’t done anything to this beastly thing, nor had I done anything to �invite� in to the house such a diabolical creature. I then shrugged at it, went into the kitchen and carried my water back to my room.
The next morning I awakened to the glass on my bed stand, and instantly thought �It wasn’t a dream�. Jumping out of bed, I dashed into the front room to see the light was still on and the clown doll was still sitting there.
His grin was painted on now, no more teeth, but his head was turned toward the bedroom, as though he watched me walk by the night before.
I never told my grandmother or mother about it, as I thought they wouldn’t believe me. My sister and I are still uncomfortable talking about that doll, it gives us the goosebumps nearly twenty years later.
My Uncle and Auntie left later that week and took it with them; I never heard about any other trouble with that doll, with one exception. No matter where they lived, I heard that the doll always ended up sitting on the sofa. I don’t know for certain, though, as I� never saw it again.
I know this one is rather long, and hope it doesn’t detract from the story itself. I’ve always loathed clowns, and now, of course, I hate them even more, especially in “doll” form. It wasn’t the first time, of course, that I’d seen/experienced the supernatural/paranormal, and it wasn’t the last as my family is full of sensitive’s.