“I need my children with me,” Grandmother had said, a polite demand I fetch them for her.
But they were gone, yet I hadn’t moved them, all of those boxes of Grandmother’s family dolls, her “children” as she called them. The ones I packed to help her move. But the boxes are gone, sealed with the small dolls I had grown up with, their narrowed, painted eyes following me, their arms adjusting without having been touched, some switching spots when you leave the room, but it’s the whispers you hear from around the corner that really unsettled me.
Finally, I find them, in the living room where Grandmother is seated. The boxes lie empty, the tape not cut but ripped open. They lie scattered about the room as if thrown aside.
But Grandmother is seated in her wheelchair, eyes glazed over from cataracts as if dipped in milk, having lost her ability to see, to move anything but her weak, twig-like arms and head. Her smile is small as she clutches a weathered doll in each hand, their cracked heads twisted to look right at me in the doorway. Several more are arranged on the floor around her wheelchair, facing me as they circle Grandmother, wispy hair frazzled, faces with frozen smiles. The all-too-familiar whispers rise up in the air like menacing ghosts.
Grandmother chuckles under her breath, her white-glazed eyes impossibly focusing on where I stand, and she whispers, “I need my children with me.”
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