The Living Doll

While shopping downtown one day, you find an antiques store that has a rare, old doll. You buy it for your daughter. A few days later she tells you her new toy can talk. You don’t believe her, until one afternoon you find yourself alone in the house, and it starts talking to you. Write this scene.

Writer's Digest prompt

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The man at the store said that an antique doll would be just the birthday gift for my Elizabeth. It was a porcelain doll from the late 1800’s, dressed in Quaker fashion. Given Elizabeth’s recent foray into Goth, its glum appearance would probably please her. A hundred and thirty bucks later it was mine.

As I expected, the now thirteen-year old studied the doll without any expression. Wordlessly she went to her room. But she did take the doll.

That evening I heard a sound that had become alien in our house. Elizabeth’s laughter. I fought to control myself as I went upstairs and stuck my head into the forbidden zone.

“Elizabeth, are you all right?”

“I’m fine, Mom. You know, this is a really nice doll.” She didn’t even chew me out for not knocking.

“I’m glad you like it dear.”

“Uh huh. It sings to me.”

“It sings to you? But dolls that old don’t have voice chips. They don’t even have drawstrings.”

“Not like that, Mom. It taught me a tune, like this.” She hums an odd sing-song cadence, seven notes then eight. It sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t remember from where. “There’s words, but I want to practice so I can sing them perfectly.”


The next day while Elizabeth’s at school I check the doll over. There’s no sign of anything that could cause it to make sound.

“Elizabeth is a good girl.”

Who said that? I look around. It couldn’t have been the doll.

“She has an ear for music.”

Now I start searching in earnest. Is it the doll talking, or am I imagining things? It’s probably Elizabeth’s computer. She really likes playing tricks on me. After a while I haven’t heard anything else; shaking my head, I go back to the housework. I find myself humming that same silly snippet of tune over and over. For some reason I can’t get it out of my head.

By mid-afternoon I’m just plain tired and I can feel a migraine coming on. I lie down on the couch with a cold towel over my eyes. Even in the silence I can still hear that tune ringing.


Apparently Elizabeth is home.

“Yes, Dear?”

“I can sing that song for you now.”

“All right dear. Is it okay if I don’t get up? I have a migraine coming on.”

“All right, Mother. Just lie back and listen.”

She hums through the tune once more, then starts the words.

“Lizzie Borden took an axe …”

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For those who are not familiar, here is the entire rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.