The blood of the doll is on my hands, so I must ink this story.”- Linda Lee Lyberg
“We have no choice. We must do it. The shaman said it’s the only way.” The four women stare down at the fully dressed cuddly doll on the ground. Sucking its thumb, the blue eyes stare back, challenging their decision.
One month after her husband died, Leanna still couldn’t believe he was gone. And the worst of it was he was dead from his own hand. She was fortunate, he could have taken her with him. But God had spared her life and she was grateful.
She didn’t have much left that was his. His family took everything, even things that once belonged to Leanna. At the time, she was too shell-shocked to protest, so now all she has are a few of his shirts, and the jewelry he was wearing when he shot himself.
It was all she had to show for almost 7 years of her life.
One rainy afternoon, her daughter Devon came by with her friend Rachel. The two of them grew up together and usually where one was, there was the other. One thing they did not have in common- Rachel sees ghosts. They communicate with her. It is a gift, one that she isn’t fond of. But over the years, she’s become accustomed to people in the afterlife speaking to her.
Leanna showed Rachel her tiny house, moving from room to room. When they reached the bedroom, Rachel halts at the doorway. “I can’t come in here. Don’t you feel it?”
“I don’t know but it’s not good.”
They walk into the kitchen which is next to the bedroom.
“Do you have something in there Leanna?”
“Hmmm. No, not really. Unless…wait.”
She rushes back into the bedroom, opens the small box where she put Johnny’s jewelry. Two bracelets, and a St. Christopher’s medal on a chain.
“Yes! I can’t touch it, you must get rid of it.”
“But it’s about all I have.”
“Doesn’t matter. It needs to go.”
Leanna puts it back in the box. She puts a piece of obsidian (a protective stone that repels negative energies) on top for good measure. ‘I’ll have to ask Jenny about this’, she thinks.
Jenny was Leanna’s dearest and best friend. They met when Johnny hired her husband to play bass with his band. Over the next few years, they became close and Jenny shared her knowledge and belief in crystals. She knew a lot about the spiritual world. At first Leanna did not believe, but the more she learned, the more she realized there is so much she didn’t know. And with Johnny’s death, she took comfort in the healing crystals and burning white sage incense.
Once her daughter and Rachel left, she called Jenny and told her what happened. As Leanna relayed the story, Jenny was quiet. Once Leanna finished, she said, “We need to send the jewelry to White Feather. He can tell us what’s going on.”
“Do you think that’s necessary?”
“Yes, and I know how to get in touch with him. He moved, you know. To South Carolina. And what’s unusual, there is a psychologist who is studying his gift.”
“Okay. Well let me know.”
After the conversation ended, Leanna sat thinking about the first time she met White Feather. For her birthday one year, Jenny had given Leanna a ‘naming reading’ conducted by the Indian shaman. She was skeptical about it, but thought she would go along with it. What would it hurt?
It turned out to be quite an experience for her, and one that left an indelible impression. During the naming, he talked about things that no one else knew. Some of her deepest thoughts and ideas came out during the session. She came away with advice, to stand firm on her beliefs, and the name Crystal Blue Coyote.
So, she would send the jewelry to White Feather and see what he has to say.
One month later , the package from South Carolina arrives. In it is the jewelry, and a cassette tape with instructions to listen to the tape and then follow the instructions.
The psychologist asked White Feather all the questions Leanna had sent along with the jewelry. She wasn’t surprised by some of the answers.
Yes, he’s been communicating with her. His act of suicide was done to keep him from hurting others any longer. He is stuck, in a dark place, all he needs to do is turn around and move to the light. But he hasn’t done so yet.
White feather instructed her to take the jewelry and bury it deep within the soil. The earth will cleanse it over time and it will lose its dark presence.
The psychologist asked the last question- “Do you have a message for Leanna?”
White Feather answered, “Yes, burn the damn doll.”
Leanna sat in her darkening bedroom, trying to make sense of it all. What does he mean, burn the damn doll? She calls Jenny.
“You are not going to believe this. I received the tape from White Feather.”
“Well, he said a lot of things but there was one that I am completely puzzled by. When the psychologist asked him if he had a message for me, he said ‘Burn the damn doll.’ What doll?”
“Think Leanna, is there a doll?”
The phone line went dead. ‘What the hell?’
Leanna walked through the now dark house and went to the back room where the land line was. She called Jenny back.
“I don’t know, I was on my cordless phone in the bedroom.”
“Okay, so back to the doll, Leanna. Do you know what doll he is talking about?”
“No…oh no.” She shivered, slowly turned her head and looked over at her piano. There, on the bench was the stuffed doll that Leanna had dressed in baby clothes a long time ago. She always teased Johnny about the ‘fantasy’ baby because it had blue eyes and his hair.
“Jenny, I know what doll he’s talking about.”
“Bring it here to my house now. I’ll call Devon and Rachel and have them meet you here.”
While Jenny was waiting for everyone to arrive, she called White Feather to ask him some questions.
“Yes, yes I understand. Hmmm, I see. And that’s what we have to do?”
By the time everyone arrived, Jenny had prepared everything.
“Did you bring the doll?”
“Yes, here it is.” Leanna handed it over, glad to be rid of it.
“Aha. I see what White feather was talking about. I called him after you and I spoke to get clarification.”
“So, what do we have to do?”
“Come outside and I will show you.”
The four women walked outside to Jenny’s herb garden.
There, on the ground was a circle of salt.
“White Feather says we must burn the doll because it represents sucking medicine and it is full of bad spirits. The salt is to protect us. We must put it in the circle of salt and set it on fire.”
The other three women look around at each other. Leanna speaks. “So, we seriously have to burn this doll?”
“Yes, it’s the only way.”
The women gather around the salt circle as Jenny places the doll within its boundaries.
The doll is laying face up. Jenny tries to light the clothing, but it doesn’t want to stay lit.
“Wait here, and don’t take your eyes off this damn thing.”
She goes into the garage, comes out with charcoal starter fluid, soaks the doll.
At last the flames catch as the 4 women stand around the circle holding hands.
As the fire begins to take hold, the doll flips over onto its belly and begins to move, as if it is trying to crawl out of the circle. Jenny grabs a stick, pushes it back. Once again, it begins to move, as if it wants to crawl away. With force, she pushes it back in, holds it down with the stick.
Jenny says, “We need to say a protective prayer right now.”
Gripping each other’s hands, they begin to say a protective prayer. The doll begins to burn at last, the fire eating away any resemblance to her late husband.
The strange deed done and over, there is nothing left but a pile of ashes where the doll once lay. Good-bye baby Johnny.
At last, there is peace.
Linda Lee Lyberg