Isabelle couldn’t quite name the reason why she didn’t just tell the other girls ‘Hey! There’s a new doll box in the coat closet!’ Maybe it was because she was the oldest, and she felt some personal responsibility for the younger girls’ happiness, or maybe it was because she didn’t want to contemplate a new girl moving in just as she was preparing to think about college.
The week wore on, and Isabelle was very distracted and spacey. She went to her Wednesday ballet class and completely forgot to put her hair in a bun. This resulted in the entire class having to do push-ups, her teacher’s customary punishment for not being prepared.
That evening she pulled out her American Lit homework after the younger girls were already in bed. Her Lit teacher thought it would be “fun” to study Edgar Allan Poe in the month of October. Isabelle smirked as she thought of Poe as the original Goth, long before the kids at high school started experimenting with dyed black hair and dark lipstick. The window rattled. A cold front was coming in, and she could hear the wind sending the leaves into noisy vortexes on the lawn and jolting her back to work. She pulled a blanket around her.
Isabelle cracked open ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ and tried to focus on the first sentence: “TRUE! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad?” ‘Great’ – she thought to herself – ‘Spooky October wind, story told by a madman, and a mystery doll box in the closet right behind my chair. At least this is a short story and I can get to bed soon.’
She dozed off a few times during the story, but after reading about the story’s main character going crazy hearing a “tell-tale” heart thumping under his floorboards she was wide awake and thoroughly creeped out.
What was that sound behind her? It sounded like it was near the closet! Isabelle ran off to her bedroom and swore she would confide in sensible Addy in the morning.