My mom sent me a doll as a joke. She knows I’m terrified of those realistic porcelain faces and gets a good laugh out of it.

I live in Ohio, but my parents live in New York, so my mom had to send me the doll through Fedex. The doll had red hair, pale skin, and a crack on the left cheek. My mom, as usual, added a note, well two notes this time, inside the box:

“Hey honey, I heard you needed some company. Just kidding. Don’t be mad.” and another note that said “There you are.”

Typical. It did get a laugh out of me though.

Oh, there’s a thing you have to know about my mom: she’s obsessed with antique shops. When I was little, we used to go and I used to flip through the many old albums that were there and it was until much later that I realized they probably came from dead families. Over the years, I collected a photo of a young girl on a swing, being pushed by her father, many black and white portraits, and other things like that. I didn’t find them creepy back then, I think I just felt happy knowing my mom let me buy something. The old people behind the counters would give me my change and put my photos in a paper bag while my mom waited in line behind me.

I felt all grown up. I wanted to grow up. Joke was on me. This is not what I expected it to be like. I live with other roommates from college, and for the first time ever I had to purchase my own house cleaning supplies and groceries.

One of my roommates is really cool, but the other one never comes out of her room. We find her a little odd. She’s an international student from somewhere in Europe and has the coolest accent, but we don’t get to talk to her much. We hear her walking around in the middle of the night though, she doesn’t understand that here, we don’t slam the cabinets shut while the rest of us are sleeping, but she got angry with us when we brought it up so I glued a dish sponge to the corner of the cabinet door but I didn’t think it through because it doesn’t close properly now. But it doesn’t make noise at least.

I left the box by the door and next to the couch in my living room, grabbed my bag and left for class, but when I got back, the box was on the dining room table, opened, and as I got near it..

“I love. Can I have?”

My roommate said from the couch, holding the doll with both hands, making it stand on her lap. She never turned to look at me, she seemed too distracted with the doll. I thought it was weird, but I said:

“You can keep it in your room if you want, but it’s my mom’s, so she might want it back eventually.”

“Yes…” she said, seeming as if she was going to say something else, but she never finished and just sat there. I could swear I heard her humming a song, but I can’t be certain.

Things got creepy since that day, and all my friends that I tell this story to tell me to leave the house. There’s lots of things that have happened, but I’ll mention only a few.

I got up to go to the bathroom around 3am one night after holding it in for far too long, so I opened my door, and as soon as I felt the rush of cold air, I bee-lined to the bathroom and sat on the cold toilet seat. As I was peeing, I noticed a small ball of yarn on the bathroom sink, stained with some type of black ink. I was reaching out to it when I heard pounding (and I mean HEAVY pounding) on the bathroom door. It wasn’t locked, but whoever was outside wasn’t aware of it. I yelled out “just a minute!” assuming that one of my two roommates was about to pee herself and the pounding stopped. I flushed and reached to the door to open it when the weird roommate pushed me out of the way and grabbed the yarn from the sink. I washed my hands next to the ink that was left behind on the sink. I went back to bed and didn’t give it much thought.

About two days later, I heard some noises next to my bed. Someone was whispering words in a language I hadn’t heard before. I sat up and reached for my lamp when my door swung open and shut, but I could barely see a silhouette leaving my room. I turned on the light, and my jacket that was hanging on a hook behind my door was moving from side to side. Yep, someone had just been in my room. I got up and opened my door just in time to see Helenke’s door, the roommate that asked me for the doll, close slowly in order to not make any noise. I walked up to her door and knocked, but she didn’t respond. I knocked again and again. Suddenly I heard another door open, it was Stacy’s door.

I explained to her what happened, and she said that yeah, and signaled me to come into her room across the hall. She told me that I have to watch out for her because apparently Stacy’s cell phone had gone missing the week before but was able to trace it back to here with the GPS locator app. When the alarm went off to locate it, it had been in Helenke’s room. Stacy said that Helenke had accidentally grabbed it thinking it was hers and apologized, which sort of checked out because Helenke eventually found her own cell phone in her kitchen cabinet, the one with the sponge I glued.

Odd things kept happening on occasion, some involving the sounds of pacing back and forth in the middle of the night, laughter and random times, and a sheer coldness to the air in the apartment. Sometimes I would catch Helenke sitting on the couch smiling at the wall very early in the morning and I would have to keep throwing out stinky bananas and other stuff that belonged to her because she would let them spoil in the fridge.

I knew Helenke’s family probably had money because I knew that she didn’t work, and supposedly did all of her classes online, so she hardly went anywhere. But now I don’t know what to think.

About two months ago, I saw a post from Stacy on Twitter. It was a photo of a porcelain doll with dark hair, and I tweeted back “Creepy.” to which she replied “I know, right?” and almost immediately, she text me with:

“I found it on my phone, I have no idea where it came from.”

Call it paranoia or fast reasoning, but I put the pieces together crazy fast. I looked back at the photo and saw the crack on the doll’s face. That was the doll my mom had sent me, but with dyed hair. Helenke had probably used Stacy’s phone to take the photo before Stacy found her phone again and didn’t delete it.

I confronted Helenke about it, and she got visibly upset at me. She said that the doll doesn’t sleep in her room anymore, and she said it with exactly those words. I didn’t know what to tell her, but I yelled at her calling her a creep and a witch and I don’t know what else I said.

Helenke hasn’t talked to me since then, but she talked to Stacy sometimes. Well, before Stacy left.

Stacy moved in with her boyfriend and promised to help us find another roommate to split the bills with but so far its been three weeks and nothing. Also, she said she caught Helenke sitting on the floor of the living room smiling at the wall and got freaked out by the whole thing.

Not knowing what to do about my rent situation, I called my mom and she said she could help me out, but that I should try to sort out the issues with my roommate because, in her words, she was legitimately concerned about my health. I had grown a little distant, that’s true. I also stopped feeling hungry.

I was staring at the ceiling from my bed, around 2am, with episodes of New Girl playing on Netflix on my phone, when I heard a cabinet slam shut. Then some dishes got moved around. Then soft laughter followed by some humming, and then more slamming of the cabinet doors. I got up ready to let her have it, but as soon as my door creaked open, Helenke ran toward her room and I caught a glimpse of her, and a small dark figure walking behind her.

She closed her door.

I went to the kitchen to turn off the lights when I noticed the sponge I glued to the cabinet door had fallen off and was on the side of the kitchen sink, but the cabinet door was left open. I walked up to it and found a doll-sized chair, a miniature lamp, and one of my mom’s notes. On the shelf above, there was an old book, an album, and a stack of photos.

I grabbed the album and flipped through it only to find my black and white photo of a young girl on a swing, being pushed by a man. Every page after that was empty. Helenke must have taken it from my room. The stack of photos were mine also.

I ran to Helenke’s room and twisted the doorknob, which was unlocked, and I flicked on her light switch but the light didn’t turn on. I didn’t care. I went off on her. You’re crazy! Who are you? What makes you think this is okay?

I yelled at her while she tried to speak over me but I wouldn’t let her. I must have told her every single thought I’ve had about her ever since she moved in. She started crying and ran to my room and locked herself inside. I pounded on the door but all I heard was her annoying voice yelling back in some other language. I must have spent ten minutes knocking as hard as I could.

There were knocks at the front door. I looked through the peephole only to see a pair of police officers waiting for me to open. I did, they asked what the commotion was, and I let them in. I was up until 6am that night with the police until Helenke finally opened the door and started answering the police officer’s questions. For once, she seemed normal.

The police didn’t find anything weird about the cabinet or the fact that she had been stealing things from my room.

I woke up around 3pm that afternoon to the sound of the front door slamming. I had been hearing sounds of things being moved around all morning but I was just so tired that I would fall back asleep again right away. I walked over to the living room to see Helenke’s door about halfway open. It was a Thursday and I had already missed my classes so I decided to go out to buy something to eat and come right back, but I ended up visiting Stacy at her new place to talk about the whole thing, so I got back to my apartment pretty late.

I didn’t want to see Helenke so I didn’t even bother to turn on the lights and just went straight to my room, locked the door as always, and changed into my pajamas.

Then, like clockwork, I heard the cabinet door slam again.

I got up, opened my door, and went straight to the kitchen but then I heard Helenke’s door slam. She must’ve been doing this only to bother me. She didn’t even cook or anything at night, she just wanted to make noise just to get on my nerves.

I opened her door and flicked on the light switch. The ceiling light turned on.

Helenke’s room was empty. She had moved out and taken everything.

Well, not everything. She left my doll. Her hair was dark now.

It was sitting on the corner of the room on top of a piece of paper. A note.

I slowly walked over to it. It said:

“There you are.”

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