Story Orgy – I Am Not Myself, Part 2

Good Monday morning, Story Orgy friends. The first full work week of the new year is stretching out before us, but don’t worry, your Story Orgy is here to make your Monday manageable.

Did you get yourself over to Breathless Press to download Lee Brazil’s latest story, The Librarian, which was released on Friday? Click here to go there now and get the latest romance from a great writer.

Our prompt this week is a bit of dialogue: “I think you broke it.” Lots of possibilities in that one, aren’t there? Don’t forget we’ve changed up our posting: half of us post Hook Ups, short posts of maximum 250 words and the other half posts a full post, then we switch itup. This week JR Boyd, Jade Baiser, and myself are on full post duty while Em Woods, Lee Brazil, and Havan Fellows will be posting Hook Ups.

Our pic this week was found, as usual, by the lovely Jade Baiser. Whew!

I’ve come up with a tentative title for this new blog story currently brewing inside my cluttered skull: “I Am Not Myself.” Yeah, I know … I said it was tentative, right?  Anyway, Dan and Jack from last week’s post will be part of the story, but for now, I’d like you to meet Nora and Angelica in my first full post for the new year. Ready? Scroll on down

I Am Not Myself

by Hank Edwards

(c) 2012

“I think you broke it.” Nora Archer knelt on the hardwood floor to cradle the doll in her hands. The porcelain face was cracked. A fine line ran down the middle to divide the eyes, slipped off to the side of the slight bump of the nose, then finally bisected the painted lips.

“She’s broken?” The weak voice across the room pulled Nora’s attention from her study of the doll, and she looked at the wrinkled face that peered over over the bedrail.

“I’m afraid so,” Nora replied and got slowly to her feet. She paused a moment, eyes closed, letting her body catch up to her new position on the world. That damn new blood pressure medication Dr. Bastian had her on was really messing with her equilibrium. She was tempted to stop taking it, but if Dan found out she’d stopped, there’d be hell to pay for sure.

“Who broke her?”

Nora crossed to the bed, white shoes squeaking on the laminated wood planks. She held out the doll, waited patiently as Angelica reached a trembling, wrinkled hand to take it from her.

“I don’t know,” Nora told her and looked up at the countless dolls jammed side by side on the shelf that ran around the entire room. It was high off the floor, too high for anyone to reach without a step stool at least. An empty spot above the window at the foot of Angelica’s bed let Nora know where the doll had once sat. She shuddered as she looked at the dozens of blank faces staring back at her. She really didn’t like this room, not at all.

“It was on the floor over there when I came in the room just now,” Nora explained. “Did the night nurse give it to you to sleep with last night?”

Angelica looked up at her, faded brown eyes swimming in teary confusion. “Oh, I don’t think so. It’s been years since I’ve slept with a dolly.”

Nora turned for the door. “Well, she must have just fallen sometime in the night, then. Hold on to her while I get breakfast going, okay? I’ll put her back up on the shelf with the others after you’ve eaten.”

“Magdalena,” Angelica said, voice barely a whisper, but loud enough to bring Nora to a stop and look back over her shoulder.

“What’s that, Angelica?”

The old woman stared at the doll’s face, one bony finger shakily tracing the crack that marred it. “Her name is Magdalena.”

“Okay, well, you and Magdalena catch up while I get your breakfast.”

Nora left the room, leaving behind Angelica’s quiet whispering. She walked toward the kitchen, down the long hallway made of dark wood that had been cut from the nearby grove of trees at least a hundred years ago. The light shades were all handblown, the paintings spaced along the walls hand painted, many by Angelica herself, back when she could still hold a brush.

Nora had taken this job as day nurse to supplement her retirement from the tire company, which had come to about enough to pay her utilities but not her taxes. The house, thankfully, had long ago been paid off, but that was when Owen had still been alive, when they’d had both their pensions as income plus social security. Dan had tried to help her out after Owen’s death, but even after his promotion to detective, she knew Dan barely made enough to keep a roof over his own head.

Breakfast for Angelica was always the same: one poached egg, three pieces of buttered toast, cut into triangles, with mixed berry jam, a banana cut into bite-sized pieces, and a small glass of grapefruit juice. It was what the woman had demanded the first day Nora had come to work for her six months ago, and it was what she expected every day from then on.

Nora’s phone buzzed in her pocket and she rinsed her hands at the sink before fishing it out. It was, of course, Dan.

“Good morning, son.”

“Hey, Mom, Happy New Year.”

Nora smiled as she tucked the phone between her shoulder and ear to fold Angelica’s silk napkin. “Happy New Year to you. Did you have a good New Year’s Eve?”

Dan seemed to have a smile in his voice that countered his words. “Nah, I had to put in some time at the station.”

“On New Year’s Eve?”

“Well, you know,” Dan said, “low guy on the totem pole.”

“Oh yes,” Nora assured him. “I’m familiar with that space.”

“How’s Mrs. Kirkpatrick?”

“Angelica is just fine. I’m putting together her breakfast tray right now.”

“Poached egg, three pieces of toast, sliced banana, and grapefruit juice?” Dan asked.

“Such a memory you’ve got. I’m sure it serves you well as a detective.”

“I’m sure it would, if I ever got a chance to work a case on my own.”

“Patience, son,” Nora said while she laid a fork on the silk napkin. “It will come. Your father would be very proud of you.”

“Yeah, I know.” Dan sounded sad and Nora regretted her words immediately. Sometimes she forgot that Dan missed Owen as much as she did herself.

A series of loud thumps from down the hall startled her and she gasped, turning quickly and grabbing the phone in her hand to keep it from falling off her shoulder.

“What is it?” Dan asked, voice sharp, alert. “What’s wrong?”

“It sounded like something fell in Angelica’s room,” Nora replied, her words coming between breaths as she hurried down the hall and turned into the first room just past the stairs. Long ago it had been the receiving room where guests met with the gentleman or lady of the house, but, now that Angelica was bedridden, it had been turned into her bedroom.

“Is she okay?” Dan’s voice buzzed in Nora’s room, but she couldn’t really hear any longer what he said as she stood in the doorway of Angelica’s room.

She gripped the dark wood of the door frame with one shaking hand, held the phone to her ear with the other as she surveyed the mound of small bodies piled in front of the closet door. Dolls, all of the dolls from the wide shelf that circled the room ten feet above the floor, now lay in front of the closet door in a heap of ruffled dresses, blank expressions, and blond, brunette, and ginger curls.

In the bed, Angelica still held Magdalena in her withered hands, still whispered and giggled with a coquettish tone Nora had never before heard her use.

“Mom?”

Dan’s voice brought Nora back and she drew in a breath. “I’m here. It’s okay.”

“What’s wrong? What happened? Do you need me to come over?”

That was Dan, always ready to drop everything and come help her. Just like his father.

“No, no, it’s okay. The dolls fell off the shelf, that’s all.” But all in a group like that? How did they all end up in a pile by the closet?

“Dolls?”

Nora let out a breath but still clung to the doorframe as she tried to understand what she was seeing. “Angelica has a doll collection up on a shelf and they fell off.”

“Oh,” Dan said, relief evident in his voice. “Okay. Sure you’re all right?”

“Of course,” Nora replied, glad to hear the shaking she felt in her gut did not come through in her voice. “I need to go now, son. I have to get Angelica her breakfast and pick up these dolls.”

“All right, I’ll talk with you later. Love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, son.”

Nora ended the call and slid the phone in her pocket as she stared at the dolls. She raised her gaze to the now empty shelf running all around the room as, in her bed, Angelica whispered and giggled to Magdalena.

~~ * ~~

I hope you’re enjoying this new spooky story. I think those dolls in Angelica’s room might have something to say later, don’t you? For now, though, click on over to the other Story Orgy blogs and enjoy the rest of your Monday, and I’ll see you next week.

J.R. Boyd,    Lee Brazil,     Havan Fellows,     Em Woods,     Jade Baiser

Follow our tweets during the week:

J.R. Boyd: @JR__Boyd

Lee Brazil: @leebrazil

Hank Edwards: @hanksbooks

Havan Fellows: @HavanFellows

Em Woods: @EmWoodsAuthor

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