"Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Nightly, I thought this prayer in my head. I believe my parents taught it to me because they felt this prayer created an invisible force field around me that might prevent terrible things from happening to me. And, should terrible things end up happening to me, at least God knew where I wanted to go. I didn't feel protected by this prayer; it was just a constant reminder that horrors lay around every corner and of how utterly helpless I was in bed.
I, like most kids, had specific sleeping needs when I was a child. I required the blankets to be pulled up to my chin. If someone were going to come in and stab me, the soft cotton would protect me from the deadly blade. My back had to face my sister. If I turned away from her, she could give me a warning holler if an attacker snuck up behind me. This freed me up to watch just my front. My bed, also, needed to be the furthest one from the door, so that if someone walked in, they'd kill my sister Sarah first. While she screamed in agony, I could hop out of the window to escape. I assumed that the murderer would come through the door (as opposed to the easily accessible window with no lock right next to my bed) because the murderer wouldn't be a human. This leads me to my next requirement. All my dolls needed to be outside of my closed doors because they were going to come alive at night and kill me.
I was a child who wanted to like dolls and stuffed animals. On tv, the cutest kids always walked around with a floppy bunny under her arm or a baby doll in a stroller. I wanted people to perceive me as an adorable kid, but I would only be pretending. I'd carry a stuffed animal around for a good fifteen minutes before freaking out and locking it in the closet or sticking it in the car, far away from me and my soul that it wanted to steal. And this is because I saw Child's Play when I was six, and I knew what dolls were capable of.
Darla is, also, incredibly afraid of dolls. Although fears aren't passed down through DNA (I don't think), her anxiety is my fault because she watched an episode of Twilight Zone before I remembered to turn on the parental controls on Netflix. The episode she watched was about a doll who comes to life.
I found out that she had watched the show after I told a story about how I thought the Twilight Zone was the Toilet Zone when I was younger.
"The Twilight Zone is really weird," Darla said. "It starts really scary with space and the eyeball. And I didn't like the story about how the doll came to life."
Ever since she watched it a year ago, she's requested I put her baby dolls and other dolls outside of her room at bedtime every night. I don't question it because I know. I understand how, in the day, these doll's souls lie dormant somewhere else. They naturally can't come to life in the day; if people saw them walking and talking, they sure as hell wouldn't keep buying them. But when we close our eyes, their glass ones open and their reign of terror begins. I won't sleep with a doll in my room and I sure as hell am not going to force Darla to.