Hollow Hearts

by Uma Deverakonda


Perched motionless like a three-foot guardian at the foot of my door frame. Painted porcelain face, plastered with a disobedient smirk. Its skin ripened to a bile-like yellow. Hair styled into stiff mounds covering its pale scalp. Its moth eaten robes hanging limp at its chipped feet. 

I smiled a warped grin. My latest asset to the collection had arrived. A 2000-dollar antique pioneering doll from the 1840s. It belonged to a young girl who died of a severe fever. The doll, although well cleaned and kept, still required a thorough cleaning before shipping, for the poor girl had died with this doll in her clutches.  

Ever since a young age, I was fascinated with the ill-bringing, especially dolls. I kept no company and spent my childhood in solitude. Therefore, my fascination for the fated grew and festered. Many in town called dolls “children of black wings”, further intriguing me. I would surround myself with broken mirrors and dolls, in hopes of attracting some sort of entity. And over time, I developed an unsatisfiable craving for death. A hunger that would never cease to burn. No expert could eliminate this desire of mine. 

I reached toward the small figure, expecting to feel its hollow, cold, lifeless body against my palm. But instead, I felt as if a surge of lightning shot through my arm. It felt like static, its twitching pain multiplied. I yanked my arm away in pain, shock, and fear. A million questions swarmed my mind as I tenaciously stepped over the doll. I fumbled with keys until I quickly slipped the right one in place and stepped inside, slamming the door shut.  

Shocking as the doll was, an evening of chilling stories and some herbal tea slipped my mind into an eased state. I stared at my arm for a time, not paying attention to whatever dark thriller played on the T.V. And somehow, through that time period I fell asleep, the image of my bare arm wavering in my mind.  

My alarm rang in the distance. I groggily cleared my eyes. A blurred image of swirling inky black forms. 

Rubbing my eyes harder, I realized that my entire body was covered in black tattoos. They glowed with seamless luster. It was fresh, yet centuries old. Fascination turned into terror as I realized that this wasn’t some morbid dream, but a truthful reality. Now, I’m not one to be shaken by much, but waking up covered in devilish tattoos is a reasonable reason to panic. 

I made a lame attempt to wash off the marks. But expectedly, it was futile. I sank to my knees and gripped my hair in dismay. 

The black spread across my body. Splitting like clouds of ink in water. Devouring me until I lay motionless on the marble floor. 

Falling into a depth farther than most can imagine. And now I see how Ioving death brought me death, in a deathly fashion. Quick. Still painful. I smiled a warped grin. Well played.