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She was there. Then, she was gone.

You are right. “People don’t just disappear.” You declare it as a fact. You proclaim it as a rule of the universe. Nevertheless, twelve years ago, I was holding my sister’s hand when it happened. When reality became a fairy tale.

It was October 31st. I had just turned six, and I was playing hide-and-seek with my little sister in the park. Her golden blond hair caught the radiant rays of the afternoon sun. Her emerald green eyes were glazed with excitement, and a sort of naive innocence lit up the endless universe behind her large irises. Her blue princess dress was caught by the gentle wind, and in the calm breeze it fluttered like a butterfly in a blooming spring field. Her steps carried a sort of hop in them, and lightly holding her hand, I also felt the energy in my own walk. I remember the way she smiled at me when she finally found me behind the bushes-- so careless, so simple, so precious.

I was seeking her when everything changed. After a long search, I saw her twisting her body into the slide. As I walked over, I watched as her body suddenly stiffened. I smiled. she knew she was beaten. Unexpectedly, her figure shrunk to the size of a small pillow. Warm, soft skin turned to rough cloth patches. The universe behind her eyes faded, and her eyeballs hardened into two dull, plastic jade buttons. Her hair was no longer the crests of a glittering wave, but a dry bed of straw. Her dress stiffened against her back and looked stained by some type of black tea or coffee. The bright colors now looked faded with age, no longer soft to the touch. I picked her up and held in my hand a doll from the 20th century. It was lifeless, devoid of joy, and absent of all humanity.

I couldn’t understand it. I threw the doll aside, and continued to seek. The leaves quickly ate her up. I searched everywhere I could for my sister, the one with an endless bounty of vibrant smiles and cheerful laughs, not the doll who was made in a dark cellar a hundred years ago. I looked behind the slides where the snails crawled, I looked under the trampoline where the spiders wove their sails, I looked past the fence where a fierce hound pounced upon the barrier. No, my sister was nowhere to be found. She won that game of hide-and-seek.

That Halloween night, I laid on my bed without candy and cried to the lullaby of my parents’ whispered fears. In the dim moonlight that fell through the slits of the curtain, my wet eyes noticed a little figure sneaking in from the window. In a moment of terror and curiosity, I stared at the silhouette of a doll climbing into my room and working its way up my bed. Like a child uncertain of each step, she tentatively moved every limb forward until she stood at the edge of my bed and looked at me with unseeing eye buttons. With a wickedly wide grin, she greeted me. Seeing me shocked, she whispered in my ear.

I grew up. To the rest of the world, even to my parents, my sister’s disappearance was a mysterious case of kidnapping, but I, who she confides all her secrets to, know the truth.

She was born too perfect. Those who are too perfect in this imperfect world are cursed to be dolls. Our daily faults are too much for them, so their bodies involuntarily retract themselves behind plastic and cotton shells. In their perfection, they lose both their human beauty and their freedom. The only time they can move and talk is the hour before midnight on Halloween.

My sister, being too perfect, was cursed by the world into a doll. She sits at the head of my bed. Every Halloween night, while other children sleep merrily with candies in their pillows, I find no satisfaction in human desire. So I sit, looking into the dull, plastic jade eyes, waiting for the moment when the smooth line of her face stretches into a wide, gaping smile. The seam that holds the two halves then slowly and grimly opens, revealing a toothless black. Then the sweetest words come out.

“Hello, brother! I get so bored of watching you sleep every night. We can finally talk again. Do you have some tea?”

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