Skip to content

The Dollhouse by Pauline Yates

The vintage dollhouse at the back of the antique store holds me captivated. The shingled roof, frosted glass windows, and carved front door are exquisite. The entire front wall opens on hinges and I’m eager to see inside. But the house is obviously a timeless treasure and I’m mindful of the ‘Do Not Touch’ sign pinned above it.

The house catches Katie’s attention, too. She kneels on the floor and peers through the window. Watching her reminds me of my childhood dollhouse. Oh, the hours I spent arranging furniture and playing house with my dolls. Katie’s the same age as I was then, and this dollhouse would be perfect for her.

Katie frowns. “She’s crying.”

“Who’s crying, darling?”

“The girl in the house. She wants to be let out.”

Crouching, I look through the window. The girl Katie refers to is a six-inch high doll wearing blonde ringlets and a grey nineteenth century pinafore dress. I smile; my sweet Katie and her vivid imagination. Already she brings this doll to life.

“Can I hold her, Mummy? Please?”

What harm could come from having a closer look? The dollhouse is solid timber and sturdily built, hardly an item easily broken. If I say no, what does that tell Katie? That I don’t trust her and I think she’ll break something? She’s the most careful child I know. The doll will be safe in her gentle hands.

I peek over my shoulder. The store owner is busy at the counter, and we’re partially concealed by a display stand.

“Let’s open it,” I whisper, to Katie’s delight.

Shifting so my body hides my eager hands, I tug the corner of the house. A hidden clasp releases with a soft click and the front panel swings open on creaky hinges. Reaching inside, I pluck out the doll. It’s hard and white and feels like bone, unlike any doll I’ve ever played with. Keeping a watchful eye on the shop owner, I give the doll to Katie.

Her eyes widen in wonderment. “She’s beautiful. Touch her hair, Mummy, it’s so soft.”

I stroke the doll’s hair and the child in me wishes to brush it until it shines like spun gold. “She might be a princess. What do you think her name is?”

Katie gives a little shriek. “It moved.”


I stare at the doll. Is it my imagination or has it grown larger? Katie whimpers and drops it. I catch the doll before it hits the floor, but it squirms in my hand. Horrified, I drop it. The doll’s mouth parts and it expels a soft gasp.

The doll continues to grow at a speed that whips up a wind. It swirls around us like a mini tornado. I clutch Katie to me, but the wind shapes into a funnel, lifts us up like loose confetti and blows us into the dollhouse.

We hit the floor with a thud. Behind us, the front panel swings shut and closes with a snap. Jumping up, I look around, alarmed. The inside of this dollhouse is as big as our real house. So is the furniture, a table, beds, and chairs. How did it grow big like the doll?

Kate clings to my leg. “Mummy, I’m scared.”

Terrified, I run to the front wall and push. It doesn’t swing open. I try the door, then the windows, but all refuse to budge. We’re trapped.

Outside, the giant doll scrambles to her feet. I gasp, horrified. Not a giant. Not even a doll. It’s a real girl about the same age as Katie. The dollhouse didn’t grow bigger, either. We shrank. I opened the door to something evil, and now it holds us captive.

The shop owner arrives and shoos the girl away. He mutters about irresponsible parents and returns to the counter. I pound on the window and scream for help, but my arms stiffen and my voice dries in my throat. Standing beside me, Katie cries, her face turning bone white.

About the author
Pauline Yates is the Australia author of Memories Don’t Lie, a fast-paced science fiction novel inspired by her love for dark and dangerous action and adventure. Her short-form horror and dark fiction appear in numerous publications in Australia and abroad. She loves writing at midnight when her muse is the most volatile, and enjoys taking pictures of the sunrise, if she wakes up in time. Visit her website at