Emily is six years old.
Emily lives with Mommy and Daddy in a big house.
Emily doesn't have very many friends because she doesn't go to school, but that's okay!
Emily has Tabitha! Tabitha and Emily are best friends. Tabitha looks like Emily, too! They both have blonde hair, though Tabitha always has hers in pig tails. They both have green eyes, too. Mommy and Daddy tell Emily that her green eyes means she has a biiiiig imagination; so that means Tabitha does, too! But sometimes Mommy and Daddy don't believe Emily when she tells them all the fun she and Tabitha have together…
They don't believe Emily when she tells them that it was Tabitha who used up all of Mommy's lipstick to make a picture on the wall. They don't believe Emily when she tells them that Tabitha was the one who broke the special plates in the locked cupboard that Emily can't reach. They don't believe Emily when she tells them anything Tabitha does, and it isn't Emily's fault.
"Oh, Emily, darling…it's perfectly all right to have a big imagination, but Tabitha is just a doll! You can't blame all your mistakes on a toy."
Tabitha isn't just a toy. Tabitha is Emily's best friend. Tabitha is real. Because Emily goes to school at home, she doesn't have any friends, so when Tabitha came, Emily was really happy! Because finally, Emily had a friend! Emily doesn't really know how Tabitha got there, because she doesn't remember getting her from Mommy or Daddy, but one day Tabitha was on Emily's bed when she was wishing for a friend. Tabitha told Emily she was here to have fun, and that she was Emily's new best friend. Emily was really happy and told Mommy and Daddy that Tabitha had come to their house just to be Emily's friend!
But…Mommy and Daddy just don't want to believe Emily, and tell Emily that Tabitha isn't real.
"Emily, dear, Daddy and I have to go to a very important meeting," Mommy is saying, smiling really big as she and Daddy stand at the front door. They are both dressed in their important clothes, the ones Emily knows that they wear when something big is going to happen.
"We have called Nora to look after you while we're gone. She'll be here in an hour. Make sure you behave, Emily," Daddy says sternly, "and no blaming things on Tabitha!"
Emily frowns, but nods anyway. She has to be a good girl, or else Mommy and Daddy may get angry and take Tabitha away. "Okay! I promise!"
Emily watches as Mommy and Daddy leave, locking the door behind them. They drive away, and Emily runs up the stairs to her bedroom, bouncing on the bed and picking Tabitha up from where she was sleeping on the pillows. Emily giggles and shakes Tabitha—but not too hard, or else Tabitha will get angry and punish Emily—as she says, "Tabby! Mommy and Daddy are gone, and that meanie Nora is coming to babysit me. I'm six! I'm not a baby! I don't need her!"
Tabitha's painted on smile widens as her eyelids blink slowly at Emily. "We should have some fun with her then, right, Emily?"
Emily nods happily. Mommy and Daddy should have never made Nora come in the first place! Emily can take care of herself! "Uh huh! Let's not let her in!"
"Yes. Let's. And we'll have all the more fun with one another. Would you like to start the fun now, Emily?" Emily forgot to mention, but Tabitha is really pretty! She has this pretty white dress that she promised Emily could wear someday, but only after she and Tabitha had all their fun. Emily doesn't know what that means, though.
"Yeah! Let's start the fun!" Emily smiles and giggles happily, nodding her head as she hops off the bed and holds Tabitha the way Tabitha told her to—she has to keep her legs over Emily's arm, so that Emily is kind of like Tabitha's throne! Tabitha is a princess, she once told Emily, and Emily is her servant. But that's just playing pretend, right? Because that's what Emily and Tabitha do to have fun—they play pretend!
"Go down to the kitchen, Emily," Tabitha says, raising her arm and pointing to the stairs. Emily obeys with a nod and skips down to the kitchen, where Mommy and Daddy normally don't let her be. It's too dangerous, they tell Emily, because of all the sharp things and the matches.
"Okay! What now, Tabby?" Emily asks when she has taken Tabitha to the kitchen, looking up at the clock. Nora will almost be at the house, and Emily doesn't want her ruining the fun! Nora's such a meanie, because she always calls Emily a baby since she takes Tabitha everywhere.
"Find the matches, Emily."
Emily frowns. "But Mommy and Daddy have hidden them!"
"They are in the left side of the top cupboard, the one right there." Tabitha raises her arm again and points once more, this time to the cupboard she is talking about. Emily frowns even more.
"But that's really high up…"
"Emily, if you don't get the matches, I'll punish you." Tabitha's head slowly turns around to stare at Emily, and Emily swallows; Tabitha's eyes aren't green like Emily's, anymore, but red. The same red Emily once saw when she fell down and hurt her leg.
"O-Okay, I-I'll get the matches," Emily says quietly, setting Tabitha down on the counter very carefully as she crawls up the drawers to get on it as well. Emily doesn't like it when Tabitha punishes her. Tabitha does bad things and blames it all on Emily, so Mommy and Daddy think she's lying when she says it was Tabitha. But Tabitha is still Emily's friend, right?
"Be a good girl, Emily, and get your best friend the matches," Tabitha says. "Then we can have all the fun in the world!"
Emily nods again and slowly begins to open the cabinet doors, pulling herself up on the shelves and knocking cans down so she has room. Emily doesn't know how she does it, but suddenly she's at the very top of the cupboard, her head almost hitting the ceiling. Emily makes the mistake of looking down, and she gets really scared.
It's really high up, and Emily doesn't like it.
"Emily, the matches! Quickly! Nora will be here soon!" Tabitha sounds mean—the kind of mean that Emily knows she'll get punished if she doesn't do what she says. So Emily makes herself pretend she's an angel who's learning how to fly, and looks back into the cupboard for the matches. They're in a box, she remembers. A red box…
Emily sees the box.
Emily grabs the box.
Emily loses her balance on the cabinet shelf.
Emily falls, and the box of matches falls with her.
Emily doesn't have time to scream. She falls really fast. She thinks she hits her head on something, because suddenly it hurts more than anything in the world. She's on the ground, and her head hurts, and she wants to cry but for some reason she can't, and she can't move, and the box of matches are still in her hand, and Tabitha is looking down at her from the counter.
Her eyes are red.
The same red that Emily thinks is coming from her head now, but she can't see.
"Idiot," Tabitha hisses, and suddenly she's standing on Emily's chest. Emily can't breathe—and she's scared because it hurts so much, and she's seeing in red now, and everything is red, and she just wants Mommy or Daddy or even Nora, anyone to make the red stop and to make Tabitha stop being mean. Tabitha yanks the box of matches from Emily's hand, and Emily tries to say something, but nothing comes out.
"We could have had so much fun, Emily," Tabitha shakes her head as she pulls out a match. She strikes it against the thing that makes fire happen on the side of the box, and holds it in front of Emily's face—so close that Emily feels her nose burning. Emily tries to move, but all she can do is blink, as she stares at the pretty dancing flame on the match. Seeing it makes the pain go away, just a little bit. Emily wants to keep looking at the fire. It makes her forget about the red that's coming out of her head. "But then you had to ruin it by falling and getting hurt. I was going to burn Nora for you, Emily, but now that you're dying…"
Tabitha's smile widens, and her eyes are even redder, and Emily thinks she can see something really big and black hovering above her. Tabitha really does look like Emily, Emily realizes. Like they were meant to be sisters, and not just best friends.
Emily can't stop looking at the flames, even as Tabitha lowers the match to Emily's shirt.
"I'm afraid playtime is over, sweet Emily, and now you must be punished for the last time."
Emily manages to smile. She's happy, because that means Tabitha won't be mean to her anymore—w-wait…why is Tabitha holding the match against Emily's shirt? Why is…Emily's shirt smoking? Oh! There's…fire on Emily. It's hot. It's red. It's dancing. It's pretty. It's…it's…
"Rest in peace, sweet Emily~"
It's burning her.
M-Mommy…D-Daddy…h-help Emily…help Emily, please…h-help…m-me…!
I'm scared…and Tabitha's just standing there, laughing, and lighting more matches—no, Tabitha, stop! Please! Why are you doing this?! You were my friend—IT HURTS! IT'S BURNING! IT'S ON MY SKIN OH IT HURTS MOMMY DADDY HELP ME TABITHA IS BURNING ME EVERYTHING IS BURNING THERE'S SO MUCH PAIN SO MUCH RED I'M SCARED HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME HELP—
Mysterious Fire Possibly Caused By Young Girl
Yesterday, at approximately 6:30 in the evening, a fire was started at the Branston house. Jillian and Marcus Branston are known for their work as developers of web design, and were out of the house for a business meeting. Their six year old daughter, Emily, was at home when the fire began, supposedly, and babysitter Nora Thomas was unable to enter the house before the incident occurred. According to her testament, she had arrived immediately after the Branstons' departure, only to find the door locked and her key would not open it. She left to go get a different key, and it was at that time that the fire was started.
According to firemen who arrived on the scene, the fire began in the kitchen and made its way throughout the rest of the house. The damage has not been fully appraised.
Investigators believe the fire to be started by Emily Branston, whose body was found burned almost to an unrecognizable state on the kitchen floor with a box of matches in her hand. The cabinet that she had apparently climbed into had been torn apart, and from the abrasions and blood surrounding her cranium, it is believed she fell from the cabinet and her skull collided with the floor on contact. It is still being investigated how the young girl could have had the energy to light the matches, but it is to be concluded that when she managed to do so, she dropped the lit matches on herself; thus starting the fire in the process of burning herself alive.
Emily's body was lying next to what the parents described to be her beloved doll, Tabitha. Miraculously, the doll was not harmed in the least during the fire, which firemen have discussed to be the result of where the fire was spread and where the doll was sitting.
Memorial services are to be held tomorrow from three in the afternoon to seven in the evening. Funeral services are yet to be announced. It will be a closed casket ceremony; however, the Branstons have said they wish everyone to know Emily will be wearing a white dress fashioned after the one her doll, Tabitha, wears. Emily will be buried with the doll as well.
Rest in peace, sweet Emily.