Andujar: Nora the doll

Nora the doll. Photo courtesy of Suzette Andujar

I listen to a podcast called “Lore.” In this show, the host and creator Aaron Mahnke talks about how folklore began in different countries and, let me tell you, it’s really scary stuff. He tells of how witch hunts started and how vampire hunters really dug up corpses and stabbed the heart to kill the monster it was bound to become. In the 1600s, medical professionals didn’t know when a person was really dead. There were bells attached to the deceased from the toes in the casket to the ground above. If the person moved, the bell would ring, hence the origin of “saved by the bell.” “Lore” also talks about the history of haunted dolls with a scary story about Robert the Doll in an episode entitled “Unboxed.” Apparently the doll communicated with the little boy it was given to and terrorized and even killed people in the house. The origins of folklore are frightening. My family said the same thing about my doll, Nora.

Nora was a gift from my parents. Her head, arms, and legs were plastic and her body was soft. Her skin was tan and she smelled like powdery, manufactured freshness. I loved her black hair and big sticker eyes. The problem was that over time, her hair thinned out and turned into strings and her eyes peeled, making her look like a freak of nature. My brothers always made fun of us and Nora didn’t like it one bit.

I was angry when they made fun of Nora. Whenever my little brother would come and say, “Nora is ugly, na-na-na boo-boo,” I’d scare him and reply, “Nora’s gonna get you for that.” He was five years old. He totally deserved it. Whenever we went out and I didn’t bring her, my older brother, who was a twin, would ask, “Where’s Nora?” the other twin continued, “Yeah, did she die or something?” Knowing the power I had of freaking them out, I replied, “She did die. A hundred years ago and her soul lives in the doll!” They laughed right in my face, but I knew that underneath, they were scared. Though I have to admit that at night, she kind of scared me too. Her eyes were always open and in the dark, well, how else do I put this…ah yes, she stared into my soul as if wanting revenge for years of injustice in her human life.

When I heard about Robert the Doll, I knew that Nora was nothing like him. She never murdered anyone! Not that I believe he’s really haunted. Robert is preserved in a glass case in a museum and haunts visitors. Nora, however, was not preserved. As I got into my teenage years, my interest settled on Leo DiCaprio and the doll was lost. Drawings of Nora and I were replaced with posters from “Titanic.” Nora’s stringy hair, frightening eyes and mysterious origins will live in our family lore forever. I’m just glad her name wasn’t Robert.

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