A Story Written on the Back of a Doll

Ransom Riggs

So I have this novel coming out in a few months, and the publisher has asked me to make a book trailer for it. (Yes, book trailers Are a Thing Now, and I've done others for other books not written by me.) It's a fantastical book full of creepy imagery and vintage found photos, so the trailer needs to be commensurately creepy -- which is a long-winded way of explaining why I got a filthy, old children's doll in the mail the other day. (It's just a prop, I swear!)

I got it from a seller on Etsy, seemingly a repository of handmade and vintage Gothic weirdness. I thought this doll would look particularly wicked on camera thanks to its extreme state of decay -- it's literally cracking apart, as if this inanimate doll were mimicking biological decomposition.

Anyway, if you keep up with my posts, you know I'm a collector of old photos with writing on them. It's become an unbreakable habit -- any time I handle an picture I have to flip it over and check to see if there's anything written on the back. So imagine my surprise when I turned this doll over to find a note written on the back -- in pencil on masking tape.

Here are some close-ups so you can read what it says:

It says: "Madge Smith's doll / She was left out in the rain / Her name was Ruth." How strange! Why would someone bother writing this on a doll they were going to throw away? And the way they refer to Ruth in the past tense -- as if the rain had killed her -- is another layer of oddness.

Anyway, thanks for humoring me -- I just wanted to record this unusual find before the doll endures a film shoot from which it may not return.

Have an uncanny day!