Hour 1: Bye-Bye

Bye-Bye. The doll says.
Bye-Bye. He replies without thinking.

The doll was a gift to his daughter, 13 years ago.

She’s gone now. Not dead. At college.

The doll stayed behind. On a shelf. Where it has been for the last 4 years.
He tries not to let dust collect on it.
Not that he’s particularly attached to it.
But, it would seem disrespectful to his daughter to let it get dirty.

She loved that doll.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He laughs at it. Must be a battery thing.

He changes the channels on the TV while his TV dinner cools down.

He knows better than to follow the instructions.
Hell, he doesn’t even know how to change the power on the microwave.
Every night, the same thing – scalding hot TV dinner that takes longer to cool than to heat.

He stops on the news. He doesn’t particularly care for the news. But, sometimes, it’s better to know what is going on.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

Breaking news. A plane has crashed in Nebraska.

His heart skips.

His daughter should be in the air by now.
He checks his phone, looking for the email with her flight number, hoping to whichever god is listening that it doesn’t match the wreckage on the screen.

He checks the numbers twice.

Different plane.

He lets out a long sigh, waits for his heart to slow down, and takes a bite of too-hot lasagna.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He pushes away his TV tray and stands up.
Must be a battery thing.
Not a big deal, but it’s going to get annoying fast.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He rummages in kitchen drawers and finds a half-pack of AA batteries.

He lifts the doll, heavier than he remembers, and turns it upside down.

Batteries must go in the back.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He lifts the doll’s dress, feeling slightly embarrassed. No place for batteries on the back.

Did this doll ever take batteries?

Did this doll ever talk before?

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

His phone rings.

He gently places the doll back on the shelf and answers his phone.

It’s his daughter. She missed her flight. Freak storm or something, the airport isn’t saying much. She’ll be on a red-eye flight and will take a cab to the house so he shouldn’t wait up for her.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.
He asks his daughter about her favorite childhood doll, if it ever used to talk.

What doll? She asks.

She had a teddy bear.

He looks at the doll. The doll that has been on the shelf for four years.

She must not remember. He thought she loved that doll.

He wishes her a safe flight, asks if she needs anything and tells her to call him when she lands, no matter the time, so he knows she landed safely.

He replies he loves her too and hangs up the phone and goes back to his hopefully still edible lasagna.

Back to the news.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

Breaking news. A mass shooting in a North Dakota mall. 64 dead. Gunman at large.
This is why he stopped watching the news. Too depressing.
When did people start hating each other so much?
When did the world stop being such a nice place?

He changes the channel.

He changes the channel.
He changed the channel.
There isn’t anything on that can lift his mood.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He pushes his food away once more and goes back to the doll.

Okay, he says to the doll. What’s the deal with you? Where are your batteries? If they are dying, I’m just going to take them out. Let her deal with you when she gets home.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

A rock smashes through his kitchen window.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

Another rock through one of the living room windows.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.
A knock at the door.

He drops the doll and slowly walks to the door, looking out the little window.

No one.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

A knock at the door. Louder.

Who’s there? He asks, trying not to let his voice shake.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

Hundreds of rocks begin to pummel his roof.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

A knock at the door. Another knock. Another knock. Another knock.

Another knock.

The doorknob wiggles.

Someone is trying to get in.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

His phone rings.

The ring startles him.

He doesn’t recognize the number.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

The phone rings again.

He answers it and screams who is this? What do you want?

Dad, it’s me, she says. I’m outside. Let me in.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

I’m outside. Can you unlock the door and help me with my bags?

He rushes to the door.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He opens the door.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

No one’s there.

He here’s laughter on the other end of the phone. Kids laughter.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He turns back to the living room.

The door slams shut behind him.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

He feels a cold, porcelain hand on his shoulder.

Bye-Bye. The doll says.

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