Illustration by: Ray Piedra
"Happy birthday, sweetie!".
Her mom greeted her excitedly. She’s got a present. And what a surprise, another lovely doll. Another one to add on to her seemingly never-ending collection.
"Thanks, mom! I love it! She’s the prettiest one I have now!"
This doll was different. She had a long black hair, with dark green eyes and wore the fanciest pink dress. She came with a tiny mirror. She went upstairs straight to her room and played with her new doll.
"I’m gonna name you Esthrya and you’ll be my best friend!", brushing her hair.
"Oh, you have a hair brush and a cute mirror." She took a look at herself in the mirror. "Do you want to see how you look like, Esthrya?"
She was playing, laughing and giggling with Esthrya as if the doll was real.
Her mom was right behind the door ajar. She smiled and walked away, content with seeing her daughter finally happy again.
She didn’t really have too many friends. She spent most of her time talking to her dolls, brushing their hair and just about anything if she wasn’t in school. And even if she was, she would bring with her at least one of her favorites. And now it would have to be Esthrya.
"What’s your new doll’s name?" asked her seatmate in English class.
"Her name’s Esthrya. My mom gave it to me on my birthday."
"Oh. She’s lovely. I wish I had a doll like her."
Her seatmate told the other girls how pretty Esthrya was and how she wanted to have one on her birthday, too. Almost all the girls in the class knew of Esthrya and they adored her.
"Mommy! My friends love Esthrya! One girl said she wanted to have the same doll on her birthday." she said, giggling.
"Wow! That’s wonderful, honey! You’re having so much fun with your new doll! I’m so glad you like it!" said her mom.
"Are you kidding me? I love it, mom! I love her! She’s my favorite! Her hair and eyes are so pretty!"
"But finish your homework and dinner first before you play with her, alright?"
"Yes, mom." she answered back.
So again, she went up to her room, shut the door and instead of drowning herself with textbooks, she played tea with Esthrya.
"Would you like another cup of tea?", long pause… "and then you say: yes, please. That is how you ask for tea, Esthrya." laughing.
She and Esthrya went on like this for weeks. Mom thought it was somewhat a good thing to see her daughter at least be happy even if she wasn’t playing with other little girls outside. What mattered was that her daughter was happy.
But in a not-so-faraway kingdom, somebody was not happy at all. Somebody was infuriated about having Esthrya as the new favorite.
Someone envied her. And this somebody wanted to punish her for being the brand new favorite.
This someone lived close enough to Esthrya and the little girl.
She lived on top of the little girl’s drawer.
She was another doll named Alicia. All the other dolls in their world used to envy Alicia. She had long red hair, her legs were perfect and she had deep black eyes unlike the usual ones which were brown or hazelnut.
She used to be the little girl’s favorite. They always had an afternoon tea (which was fake anyway) and a lot of the other girls in her class also wished they had a doll just like hers.
But that was before the little girl’s birthday. Now everything has changed. Now, she’s just going to be one of the neglected dolls inside a dusty chest. Forgetten.
"This can’t happen to me! If I won’t be her favorite, then no one’s ever will!" Alicia said with all madness and hatred. She hated Esthrya. She hated the fact that Esthrya even existed. And she greatly hated the idea of the little girl forgetting about her because of the new comer. It just wasn’t how the world should go.
Ever since Esthrya came into the little girl’s life, Alicia was knocked out helpless just like that. But she had a plan. A very auspicious plan for her, she thought.
It was pure evil.
"No Alicia! You can’t do it!" said one of the forgotten dolls.
"The little girl has been selfish all this time, forgetting all of us has been her biggest mistake ever. She deserves the punishment, Alicia." opposed another.
One day, the little girl was in her bedroom playing with Esthrya when her mom called her for supper. She went down but didn’t bring Esthrya with her. Strange. But it was just the perfect moment for Alicia.
"Now’s the time, girls", evil Alicia said.
She started casting a spell, a voodoo chant she learned from her mother way back when. She started humming an unusual and spooky sound, versed a series of words that the other dolls could not understand but knew was dangerous for somebody being casted upon.
"Stop it, Alicia!" said the other doll, begging. But she was freakishly unstoppable. Nobody actually dared to stop her.
They heard the little girl yelling Esthrya’s name from outside the room, she was excited to get back and play with her new doll again.
"Now’s the right time, Alicia", said the other doll with a smirk on her plastic face.
"Esthryaaaaa…" the little girl yelled.
"Esss.." she stopped. Her heart stopped. She was too horrified to see her room so dark only her music box making a sound from nowhere.
"Esthrya? Where are you? Why is it so dark in here?" said the little girl, her voice quivering.
Suddenly, a loud bang from her back came. Her door shut. She tried to scream her mom’s name but no voice was coming out of her mouth. It was like the world was on mute.
Alicia continued chanting, raising her voice higher and higher and screamed.
After a one whole long minute of silence, the little girl awoken. Everything around her was glistening, shining as if she were in a different place, like in a fantasy world, just like how her mom used to describe in her stories before she’d go to bed with Esthrya.
Esthrya. Where was she?
"Hello, my dear. Missed me?" said Alicia to the little girl.
"Where am I? Who are y… Alicia? Why are you talking? How can.. How is this even possible? Where am I?" the girl said with all disbelief. It could not be happening, could it?
"Everything’s for real, little girl. This is where you belong now. With us. And Esthrya? Stop looking for her, you’re inside her body now." Alicia said, laughing with all evilness.
"Why did you do this to me?? Mommy!!!"
"Your screams are useless, no one can hear you from that side of your world now. You’ll be here with us, forever."
"Why did you do this?" Tears started pouring out from her pretty green eyes.
"We used to be best friends, remember? What happened to us? Ever since that Esthrya came everything just became different and aweful! How could you just forget about us? We were all your best friends!"
"I did’nt know you’d feel this way, Alicia."
"Well now you do. And you deserve this. Don’t worry, I’m still going to be your best friend, your secret will be safe with me. No one will know you’re here with us", her eyes were almost grinning madly, amusingly massive as well.
"But I don’t want to be here! I want to be with my mom! With my real friends, in the real world!"
"You don’t have any friends! We are your only friends! I killed Esthrya and replaced her as you so we could all be together from now on! That way, you wouldn’t have to trade us for anyone new. Isn’t that lovely, my dear?"
"But how did you do this?!"
"I learned it from my mother. My mother was once a witch. Before I became a doll, I was a pretty girl just like you. One night, two strangers went into our home to steal things from us and we caught them. They tried to kill us but before they could kill my mother, she casted a spell on me so that I become my own doll and so nobody could hurt me from that day forward. It was the most disgusting thing that’s ever happened to me but I knew my mother did it because she loved me. I assume it was for my own good. But seeing real girls like you made me envy. And every time this jealousy in me grows, the more I want other girls to become just like me. And I’ve had it with you! I envied you for being a real pretty girl and for having a mother. But you just had to rub it in our faces how neglected we’d become every time a new doll comes into your life. Well all that’s over now. You should be happy I did not kill you."
"Just kill me then! I’d rather die than be like any of you!"
"No. We want you to be with us. Just like us. Forever. Dolls don’t die. We just stay like this for the rest of our little damned lives."
The music from the music box was the saddest thing she remembered after what had happened. It was also the last lovely thing she’ll ever hear after her mom’s I love you on that night.
They called her Esthrya from that moment on.