by August Leaf
A sleepover haunts her
Cabbage Patch Kids were all born in Cabbage Patches obviously and adopted by little girls around the world. The story was that when us adoptive mommies slept at night, the dolls came to life. If we were attentive and loving, the dolls did some good deeds around the house. If we were neglectful and careless, the dolls turned evil. Sometimes, they would try to harm us in our sleep and sometimes they would simply run away back to the Cabbage Patch to escape the cruel parenting of mean little girls.
I was never worried about my darlings; they were very well tended. They were both fed plastics bottles of fake milk and orange juice and changed their diapers at least once a week. Their Gramma knit us all matching sweaters one winter and we all three wore them with pride. My girls were loved and so was I.
One night when I slept at Lisa Chandler’s house, I left my dolls at home with Gramma and Grampa. I had heard from Shelly Thompson and Tammy Murphy that Lisa’s dolls were the haunted kind. But I promised a sleepover and besides, her house was fun. Lisa had two sisters and a brother and five cabbage patch kids. One doll’s yarn hair was all tangled and unruly; a boy had no diaper on and marker on his face and there was a preemie with a bit of old apple stuck in its mouth. We watched scary movies like Firestarter and Pet Cemetery and ate gummy bears on our ice cream at Lisa’s house and I was never allowed to do that at home.
I had a hard time falling asleep on the floor in Lisa’s den that night. We had watched Unsolved Mysteries which was a show where just the opening music was enough to give me nightmares. The dolls were scattered all around the house and not tucked properly in the stories Shelley and Tammy had told me were running around in my head. Lisa slept soundly on the floor beside me.
I eventually fell asleep. I dreamt that one of Lisa’s dolls was being dunked repeatedly in the bathtub by her little brother. The doll was staring at me and begging me to save her from the neglect and abuse. Her brother just kept laughing and sticking the doll in the cold dirty water, drowning its cries.
I got up out of my Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag and tiptoed to the bathroom. I was washing my hands when something in the mirror caught my eye. My heart thudded in my chest and I whirled around to see one of Lisa’s Cabbage Patch kids peeking at me from the bathtub. I didn’t remember seeing it there earlier, but it must have been there all along. I grabbed the wet doll and raced back to my sleeping bag, jamming her safely down to my feet while fear rang loudly in my ears.
Lisa never did notice that her doll was missing. I,on the other hand, continued to be haunted by her every night as I snuck her out of the sleeping bag and into the crib with Catherine and Gabrielle and woke up early every morning to hide her back in the bag before my Mom came to wake us.