Friday, 20 May 2011

Flash Fiction #12: Poppet

She made him from twigs, straw, and a lock of hair.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the hair had been the trickiest ingredient to acquire; but anything worth doing demands you go that extra mile.  And this, Amy thought, was definitely worth doing.  It was a simple enough design - two legs, two arms, a loop of straw for the head - but Amy worked lovingly over it, tying the dried out leaves and twigs together until they looked just right.

Mark, it seemed, lived in complete obliviousness when it came to Amy.  He knew her name, or at least she flattered herself that he did, but that was about it.  She had been in love with Mark for years, but to him Amy was a nothing word, a face on the periphery of his existence.

Until now.

The straw doll was the first step.  Next came the blood.  This was a lesson Amy had learned early, and learned well.  To give your hopes life, you give them your blood.  Amy sliced into her own hand, not even flinching from the searing pain, and let three drops of blood fall onto the doll.  She watched as the red seeped into the straw and wood.

It was days before Amy next saw Mark.  Then one morning they collided quite literally outside a cafe.

"Hey there," Mark said, putting his hand on Amy's shoulder to steady her.  She felt the blood rush to her face.  "It's Amy, isn't it?"

"Yes," she replied, desperately nonchalant.  "Mark, right?"

"Yeah."  A second or two passed.  Then; "Well, see you." 

And he was gone.

When Amy returned home that night, she immediately snatched the straw doll from her nightstand and looked at it accusingly for a moment, before taking a blade to her right palm once again, allowing another three drops to fall onto the poppet.  The lock of Mark's hair knotted around the neck of the doll quickly absorbed the fluid.

The next day, Amy sought him out.  She wore her best summer dress, and had let her hair fall freely around her shoulders.  If a love spell was too much to ask for, how about a little lust?  But Mark seemed curiously immune to her charms; he smiled politely and went about his business.

So Amy returned home once again, crying with frustration and longing.  She took her ceremonial blade and slashed at her arm, smearing the straw doll up and down the cut.  If she hadn't been sobbing quite so loudly, she may have heard something to give her pause - a soft, suckling sound.

Of course, spells are not the same as wishes.  Magic is a living thing, with a puckish, mercurial will of its own.  As unpredictable as the weather, is how Amy's mother used to put it.

Feeling faint from the loss of blood (although oddly, there were no stains on her dress or the floor), Amy made her way to bed.  She collapsed onto the mattress, the straw doll still clutched in her hand.  To love, and be loved back - she thought even a hopeless witch like her could have managed that.  She brought the doll to her chest and thought of Mark.

"I love you," Amy whispered, her eyes fluttering closed.

"I love you too," answered the doll.


  1. Brilliant! I didn't see that one coming - gotta love those dolls, but I don't think I'll call my little boy 'poppet' any more!

  2. Haha, sorry if I ruined that word for you - half the idea of this story was to take an innocent little word like "poppet" and make it something more sinister. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


  3. Top points for “creepy.” Cool.

  4. A fascinating twist - I much prefer understated "horror" to the splatter kind.

  5. You took that cliché and you used it - you made it creepy. Nice work. I don't think I've ever had those kind of chills over the words 'I love you too' before. Perfect last line.