The Animals

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So when I was 12, our neighbor’s 6-year-old daughter was abducted. This was 2004 and porch cameras weren’t really much of a thing, so there wasn’t footage of it. She was playing out in the front yard and was there one minute and gone the next. It was a really dark time afterward. The police never found anything, which I think made it way worse for the family. Finding a body or something means some sort of closure. My parents wouldn’t let us go outside without a parent for probably over a year.
It was hell for the girl’s family. She was their only kid, so it completely ruined their lives. Her mother stopped showing her face in public and would only really leave the house to buy food. They ended up selling the house and moving somewhere else after a year or so. I still feel guilty that our family didn’t show them more support. We were neighbors, but we didn’t really talk to them much. Anyway, it’s really sad to talk about and I’m only doing it to lay the groundwork for later.
So fast forward 8 years. We’re still living in the same house from 2004, I’m still living at home but go to a community college. The neighbors with the lost daughter have long since moved out and we don’t really think much about it anymore. It was 9 pm and everyone was at home. Someone may have been asleep, but most of us were watching the TV. Suddenly we hear a knock on the back door of our house, which weirded us out.
Just to preface, we’re from western Maryland in a sort of mix between the suburbs and rural forest. There were other houses nearby, but behind our house and yard was just forest for a good distance. Nobody would approach our house from the back, it was obvious we were home. Any normal person would just use the doorbell at the front door.
We didn’t answer the door at first and just waited for probably 10 minutes before my dad went and checked the door to see if anyone was there. We don’t know who did it, but on the concrete landing for our back door was a little beanie baby stuffed animal. We didn’t see anyone there like someone knocked and made a run for it. We brought it over to the workbench and left it there.
It happened again 5 days later. This time I went to the door as quickly as I could and found another little-stuffed animal. Over the next three weeks, we would get two more stuffed animals like this. The third one was collected by my sister when she was home alone, and we weren’t home for the last one. We went out to eat and found it when we got home that night.
The animals were a gray cat with a yellow ribbon, some dog that looked like a beagle, a bear with fairy wings, and a pink owl. They were all in really good condition, with only minor play wear. They kind of smelled like cigarettes. There was never a note or explanation, and we never saw who it was. There would just be a knock on the back door late at night, and a stuffed animal would be left behind. I don’t think we ever got rid of them, they’re probably in a box somewhere in our basement. It was weird at the time, but upon further thought, it just gets worse.
The neighbor’s kid was probably playing with something when she got taken away, but there wasn’t anything there when the police looked for her. I just get really uneasy when I think about it. If I’m right and they are the girl’s toys, who is leaving them, why were they coming from the woods behind our house?

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