|Miss Mary Mac
Author: Jenni Mills PM
A very mild spine tingler for the women's magazine marketRated: Fiction T - English - Words: 1,246 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 04-06-06 - id: 2148309
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Miss Mary Mac
My sister loved to sing as a child. Katrina and I would play clapping games in the school playground. And although I was two years older, we were very close after the death of our father. One of her favourite singing rhymes had been Miss Mary Mac. You know the one, don't you?
"Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac
All dressed in black, black, black
With silver buttons, buttons, buttons
All down her back, back, back"
When she first moved from home, she bought a black kitten and named her Miss Mary. Miss Mary only lasted three years, and then disappeared. Sometimes cats do that. Katrina had been upset, and I was the first person she called when, after a week, Miss Mary had not reappeared.
Katrina was delighted the day we stopped at a garage sale. She found a handmade cloth doll that looked just like Miss Mary Mac. She was dressed all in black, with silver buttons down her back. But I didn't like her face. It was white with black eyes and red lips. I thought it looked really creepy.
"She's just sophisticated, Mel" was Katrina's defence.
Several days later, Katrina called to tell me she had found Miss Mary Mac in a doll magazine. There was an entire article about these strange dolls made back in the fifties. The maker of the dolls had resided in a mental institution. The dolls were sold as fund raisers before the patient died in 1965. Collectors called them Institution dolls.
Miss Mary Mac was Katrina's pride and joy. She sat for several years on her sofa. Then she sat a few years more on her dresser and watched as Katrina had gotten thinner and thinner. When she started losing her hair, I urged her to see a doctor. After daddy had died, Katrina had developed a severe disliking for doctors and hospitals. And who could blame her when the only memories they drudged up were of tears and mummy being held up by the nurse as she told us our father was gone.
Early one November day, I realised I had not heard from my sister in a few days and called by her flat. I knew before I let myself in with my key, that she was dead. The coroner had said she died peacefully in her sleep that morning as her thyroid gland failed. How strange it was, that I had known something was wrong at almost exactly the time she had passed away.
As I packed away her things, I came across the creepy white faced doll. I could almost hear Katrina begging me, "Take care of her Mel". So I took the doll home. She lasted twenty minutes on my couch before my three year old son Ben spotted her and started crying hysterically.
"Take de bad lady way mummy" he screamed.
I took Miss Mary Mac upstairs to my bedroom and shoved her unceremoniously into my bedside draw. As Katrina's favourite, I knew she deserved more, but I was not having my child scared by a stupid doll. I decided I would move her later, and was then running back down stairs as Ben knocked over something in the kitchen with a loud crash.
My husband Garry was late home that night. In order to go to Katrina's funeral the next day, he needed to tie some lose ends. I sat up waiting for him and was relieved when finally I heard his car pull up outside. It was past midnight. We talked for half an hour over hot chocolates before falling gratefully into bed.
I fell asleep almost instantly. It seemed my head had just hit the pillow when I was awoken by a violent crash downstairs. The alarm clock showed 1:15. I shook Garry but he was in too deep a sleep to be woken. So I gingerly crept downstairs to find the disturbance. I turned on lights, looked in every room, and scanned the insides of shelves for anything out of place. Everything was as it should be. So I dragged myself back up the stairs. Garry and Ben never stirred.
Once again, sleep came quickly. And just as before, I was awoken with a start. This time, Ben was standing inches from my face in his pyjamas. I looked at the clock. It was 3:30 am. Ben swayed sleepily and then spoke in a voice that sounded nothing like his own.
"Aunty Katrina pushed me out of bed mummy." He articulated every syllable. I looked at him taken aback. Then suddenly he seemed to wake up.
"De Dweam is bad" he said in his usual baby drawl.
I picked him up and put him back into his own bed, cuddling him for a minute more for my own comfort than his. My skin was beginning to crawl.
It was much more difficult to fall asleep after such an unsetteling moment, but eventually fatigue overwhelmed me, and my eyes closed. It seemed only minutes before they flew open again at the sound of singing. I checked the clock again. It was 4:45am. Ben's high pitched voice was drifting softly down the hall. I leapt out of bed to check on him, suddenly very cold and alert. He stood at the top of the stairs swaying gently and singing very quietly. I turned him to face me. His eyes were closed, but his lips moved in an unmistakable rhythm.
"Miss Mary Mac, Mac, Mac…."
Horrified, I shook him. He jerked awake and started crying at the shock. I held him close before lifting him into my arms and holding him tightly. I hurried back to my bedroom and laid him, wide eyed next to his father.
The bedside table draw was open and the face of the doll was turned upwards. She seemed to be smirking. I reefed her out of the open draw and ran downstairs with her dangling at arms length. I intended to take her outside and burn her. On the very last step, I tripped, and fell. I must have hit my head because the next thing I knew I was woken by Ben's wailing behind me, and sunlight was streaming through the kitchen window. Ben was pointing at the kitchen table where papers were blowing without any wind.
I pulled myself to my feet and crept towards the madly whirling pages. With a sudden burst of activity, the magazine on top flew into the air and slammed into my chest before dropping to the floor. And then it stopped. The papers on the table sat innocently ordered as I had left them the night before. I bent down to retrieve the magazine. It was Katrina's doll magazine, and it had fallen open at the page featuring the institution dolls. I knew then what I had to do.
After the funeral, my eyes red rimmed from weeping, and the guests all gone, I picked up the phone and retreated to the privacy of my room. Miss Mary Mac lay quietly and peacefully on the bed beside me. Her face no longer seemed to sneer. Instead it looked like relief on her red lips. I scanned the magazine page and dialled the number.
"Hello, is that Anita Green? My name is Melanie Tate, and I think I may have an Institution Doll for the museum's collection."
By Jenni Mills