Chioma is the only child of her single mother who works as an auxiliary nurse at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital. She is twelve years old.
After school, she goes to her friend’s house, Ada to wait for her mum.
Ada is also the only child of her parents. Unlike Chioma, she was pampered with love, care and baby dolls. She has a wardrobe filled with them.
One day while playing Chioma decides to beg Ada for one of her dolls since Azuka, the only doll she had was getting old.
‘ My mum will beat me o’. She said I should not borrow anybody my things. Let me show you the toy cooker she bought for me yesterday’
Ada runs to get it.
At that moment, Chioma is called. She puts one of the dolls she was sure Ada won’t miss and runs to meet her mother.
* * * * * * * * *
With the addition of Mary (that was the name of the new doll), Chioma plays all night long. And many nights after that.
Mary becomes the wicked stepmother while Azuka becomes Cinderella. According to Chioma’s script, Azuka has no happily ever after.
Chioma, using Mary will beat the living daylights out of Azuka. She dresses Mary in fine clothes while Azuka remains in rags.
Mary sleeps on the bed with Chioma. Azuka sleeps somewhere at the corner of the room.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * Chioma wakes up to a startling realization. Azuka was sleeping right next to her.
Perplexed, She searched her room for Mary. She finds her lying still, her body parts were nowhere to be found.
She could remember bathing Mary, dressing her for bed and tucking her under her covers.
So, why was Azuka sleeping next to her? And where was Mary’s body parts?
After another thorough search, she finds them at different points in her room. She shrugs it off and prepares for school.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
However, it happened again for three days. Consecutively.
Afraid, Chioma races to her mum’s room.
Her mum’s room was a small space invaded with clothes and dirts.
‘ Mummy, Azuka is like Anabelle!
‘ What?,’ her mum asks wiping out the sleep crusts from her eyes.
‘ I said Azuka behaves like Anabelle. Can you explain how she is able to move herself? ‘
Gingerly, she sits upright and looks at her twelve year old daughter a bit scared at the speed of her growth.
‘ Annabelle is just a movie. Azuka is um…well a lifeless doll. Maybe she was the one you put to sleep next to you but you forgot ‘
‘ No…I did not…’
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Miss Okorie stirs in her sleep.
She wakes with a start. What was that noise? Oh my God, armed robbers! What should I do?
She remembered her daughter who was sleeping soundly in the other room. Armed with a torchlight, she climbs out of bed.
Outside her room, her feet touches something. She jumps in fright and flashes a beam at the object. It was the arm of a baby doll.
She heads towards Chioma’s room. At the door, she saw a pool of yellowish liquid and the bald head of Mary on it.
Her heart freezes to a stop. This was really weird. What the hell was this? She thought as she tiptoes into the room. Chioma’s bed was empty.
Her torchlight falls from her grip. In fear, she spins and screams.
There in the darkness, she could make out a silhouette of a fallen chair and Chioma walking towards her like a zombie.
Her eyes are firmly shut, her mouth is agape with drool and her footsteps, eerily slow and quiet.
Miss Okorie heaves a sigh of relief. Chioma was sleepwalking.