by Kelli-May

This happened when I was 7. My birthday had been 2 weeks ago and I had received the loveliest presents a 7-year-old could have. My parents promised me that I could have anything that I wanted. Therefore, I reacted as any child my age would.

On my birthday morning, I woke up early and pattered downstairs, eager to see my presents. I whooped with joy, waking up my puppy, a beautiful creamy-white Husky, with sky blue eyes, and coffee-colored patches around his eyes, ears, tail, muzzle and paws. Surf barked frantically and bounded after me down the wooden stairs. I exhaled slowly, causing my wavy black fringe to flutter. I had caught a glint of gold.

I sailed down the stairs, my face glowing with excitement. My little, blunt fingernails stabbed uselessly at the hugest, prettiest-wrapped present I set my happy green eyes on.

Frustrated that it didn't open, I slapped the colossal, golden-rose-patterned parcel into my dog, Surf's mouth. It was heavy, and I had to strain the tiniest bit. Surf's pearly-white teeth did their job just great. He started demolishing the pretty wrapping paper from the bottom. As he did, I caught a glimpse of a delicate pair of feet wrapped in Prussian blue satin fixed with neat heels, and an impossibly small duo of shiny silver buckles. Suddenly Surf stopped ripping. Now only the little face was left to uncover. He whined unsurely and then growled, backing away from the ripped package as if it were dangerous. Then he turned tail and fled as if my doll scared him. Alone, I kneeled motionlessly beside it. Even though my dog was gone, I was pretty sure I could manage the rest on my own. I set to work with shaky hands.

Gina is the most beautiful thing that I have ever laid my eyes on. Her hair cascades down her slim waist in an elegant, curly platinum-blonde fountain. Her bronze skin is silky porcelain with a dusting of honey-brown freckles across her rosy cheeks.

Her rosebud lips are pursed in a smile as soft as an angels laugh. She is the kind of doll that closes her eyes when you tilt her back, and her honey-colored lashes brush her freckled cheeks when her eyes close. She wore a dark blue medieval gown, but my keen eyes spotted a stack of tops, hats, dresses, shorts, skirts, jeans, leggings and shoes as well as bits and bobs like earrings, bracelets and hair slides etc. In a small satin bag. But what truly struck me- and still does- was her Prussian blue eyes. Her whole outfit, from her tiara perched daintily in her silky, creamy-white hair to her shoes, seemed to be matching her eyes. Her kohl-darkened almond shaped eyes seemed to scrutinize me. It was silly, but I began to feel self-conscious.

"Hello, Gina. I'm Kelli-May," Suddenly, Gina slipped in my fingers, and in my lunge to retrieve her, I felt a small button on her hip." Heeeey- what is THIS, Gines?" cautiously, my probing fingers found a small slit in her cotton dress, into which I slid my index finger. I found the button and pressed it. For a moment, nothing happened.

"Oh," disappointed, I turned to her clothes. "This is pretty, Gina." I mumbled. And then--
"What's that? I can't hear you, Kelli-May!" Gina cocked her pretty head to one side and her arm rose, stiffly and mechanically, to her left ear, like she was straining to hear.Jesus, even her lips moved! Her big blue eyes blinked! I let out a bloodcurdling scream and scrambled to my feet.

"Let's play!" she suggested brightly. Her arm lowered -- and she climbed to her feet.

"Let's play!" she repeated. But the doll couldn't stand. She fell to her back, but her feet made walking movements. I was weeping by now, and my screech had got my parents darting down the stairs. My mum, her raven-black hair rumpled, came in first, yawning.

"What's wrong, honey? Happy birthday! Ah- you found the dolly!" then she caught sight of my face. "Oh, baby, are you scared? Don't worry- she's only on interactive mode! That means she talks to you when you talk to her!She called you by your name because I entered it in her memory package! So- what's her name?" Mum hugged me, and dad laughed and picked Gina up and pressed the button on her hip again. Switching her off. She returned to her usual position.

"Gina," I sniveled pathetically and clung to them. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Gina is a lovely name! Hey, now what about the rest of your presents?" dad exclaimed, pretending to be cross. "I-I just need to put Gina in my room." I lied.

I ducked into the kitchen and grabbed a large carrier bag, stuffing the doll into it. I held her gingerly, but her hand flopped out and hit my thigh. I whimpered- she is made of porcelain, she cant flop. Gina's deep blue accusing eyes glared at me through the darkness in the bag. Her pearly teeth that were bared in a false smile suddenly seemed full of menace. Her platinum locks were white in the gloom, glowing illuminatingly in the dark around her round face. I bounded up the stairs. As I ran, I began to weep in terror. In the spare room, I ran to the wardrobe. I was a short child, so Gina was almost as tall as me, and that simply made her scare me more. Whatever my mum said, I was freaking terrified of the thing lying stiffly in the carrier bag. Still in the bag, I stuffed Gina into the wardrobe. I unhooked the key from the peg, and locked the door behind her. But as I did, a low, muffled voice full of false brightness sang out from the wardrobe.

"We'll be together for EVER! We can be BEST-FRIENDS-FOREVER!" the wardrobe doors shuddered, as if something had fallen against it. I stifled a cry and darted out.

"Kelzi, honey? You coming? There's Pain au Chocolate!" Mum called.

"C-coming!" my voice wavered as I ran back downstairs..

I'm 13 now, and I read the instruction manual. It says that all the things Gina said are in her speech catalouge- and it also says that sometimes the doll can react slowly to being turned off- but the slowest reaction, it seems, is a mere 8 seconds. This went on for easily 60 seconds, maybe less. But I don't think I'll ever understand that day. After a while I took Gina out, and she was simply a normal- but beautiful- doll. She never talked after being turned off, but sometimes I feel penetrating eyes on me, and she regularly falls off the dresser in my room where she sits. Some times I leave her facing the door but when I get back she's facing the mirror instead. No-one is at home during the day, apart from Surf, but I lock my door with the sliding bolt on top of the bolt.

Sometimes I get back from school and Surf refuses to let me go in my room. He stands in front of the door and refuses to move, even when he has a dog treat dangling in front of his nose. He sniffs, growls, hackles raised, and then whines and cowers into a corner. I go in my room and there's nothing wrong, but maybe Gina's smile is wider, her eyes shinier. Once, I was curling my hair before going to my boyfriend's party, and I switched the curlers OFF, and when I got back the red light was flashing, indicating that they were on.

So, was all of this supernatural experiences, or a technology malfunction? Did Gina simply react slowly to being turned off? If so, why did Surf flee from the doll? Why did he refuse to let me in my room? And-most intriguing of all-how did Gina face the opposite direction I'd left her after a few hours, in an empty (well, almost empty) house? It's up to you to decide.

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