Who knows better how to torture you than your sister? She knows what you like, what you dislike, what you fear most. As a small child, I had an overactive imagination and a curious fascination for all things frightful, like monster movies, scary stories and “The Twilight Zone.” But the one thing I feared most was my older sister Angella’s prized possession, her beautiful “Simone” doll. I was sure Simone was pure evil, with her long silvery hair and perfect features, and that cold, hard stare that followed me around the bedroom my sister and I shared. And Gella, as we called her, loved to take advantage of my doll phobia at any chance she got. Whenever I would annoy my older sister, or get in her way, or behave like little sisters often do, Gella would simply smile a knowing smile and remind me that Simone was watching me, so I’d better behave!
Evil Simone reminded me of that doll in that “Twilight Zone” episode, the one named “Talking Tina” that was determined to kill Telly Savalas. And no matter how hard Telly tried, he couldn’t get rid of that doll. He even tried to burn it, crush it, chop it up, but the doll lived on, and in the end, it was Telly who suffered the consequences. So whenever Gella really wanted to put me in my place, she would sneer and repeat the line from that Twilight Zone episode, “My name is Talking Tina, and I’m going to kill you!” This so terrified me that I often resorted to turning Simone’s head around to face the wall so the doll couldn’t watch me as I slept at night!
Gella loved to watch me squirm in fear as she recounted all the ways Simone would punish me if I didn’t submit to my older sister’s wishes and whims. Often, I would be so terrified, I would secretly lock Simone in the clothes closet. The next morning, Gella would chide me about how angry Simone was for being locked up all night, and how the doll planned to get revenge. I would be so afraid of Simone’s wrath, I would get down on my knees and beg the doll for forgiveness and lavish it with praise. All the while, Gella smiled in the background, knowing she had me, her goofy little sister, under her thumb. She loved to make me scared, it gave her a feeling of such power!
But the great day of equalization came when my sister and I both received a special gift from our grandparents: two paintings of scruffy children with big, round eyes… the kind that followed you everywhere and seemed to plead for attention. Both of us girls hated those awful, intrusive pictures, which our mom had promptly hung on our bedroom wall. Now, Gella also knew what it felt like to live in fear of ever-watchful eyes, and together, we plotted to destroy the paintings, turning them towards the wall and locking them in the closet when we thought our mom wouldn’t notice.
Eventually, we both outgrew our silly little girl fears, although the last time we saw those paintings in the attic of our grandparents’ home (somehow the paintings had made their way back to their original owners!), neither one of us could hide our displeasure. To this day, I am still fascinated with all things scary, even if they do give me nightmares. But there is one thing I refuse to have in my home. Dolls. Thank God my only child turned out to be a boy!
And as for my older sister, Gella, she still loves to remind me that Simone is still out there somewhere waiting, watching, plotting my demise, and that I’d better behave… or else!