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“Anna, would you like some more tea?”

A stuffed lion, several worn dolls and a teddy bear with a missing eye sat in a congenial group on the attic playroom floor. The early autumn sun slanted through the little windows, making the air hot and still and illuminating the drifting dust motes. She picked up a chipped cup and poured the imaginary tea.

Downstairs her family was busy preparing for their departure. The furniture lay under white shrouds. The shutters were closed. Mother’s voice echoed through the house, ordering the servants to attend to last minute tasks.

“Violet,” she admonished, “You always eat too many scones.” The doll slumped in silent attrition. She poured more tea.

The trunks were loaded, the locks checked and rechecked. Mother and her brothers and sisters and the servants climbed into the four waiting carriages, amid much commotion, and rattled away. The sun was slanting low through the little attic windows and dusk was filling the playroom when she noticed the fading light, the unusual silence.

She stood up and listened. The house was quiet as the grave. She went to the window. The driveway was empty. She’d been forgotten.

She ran to the door, twisted the knob in a panic. It refused to budge. They hadn’t realized she was in here, her racing mind thought, and they had locked her in when they locked up the house. She beat against the door with her tiny bird-like fists, screamed, cried, but no-one came.

The playroom was almost dark now, her tea party guests indistinct lumps on the floor amid the growing shadows. She fumbled her way across the room until she found the doll cradle. There was an old baby blanket inside. She went to a corner of the playroom and wrapped the blanket around herself, a huddled, frightened ball. Eventually she fell asleep.

“The worst part about it all,” the docent says as he leads the party down the narrow hall to the playroom, “is that the door wasn’t locked at all.”

He turns the knob, throws open the door. He relishes this bit of drama, considers it a fitting end to the tour of the historic house. The visitors crowd into the charmingly antique room, furnished with relics from the past. A cradle, some teacups, a teddy bear with a missing eye. The late summer sun slants through the little windows, making the room hot and still.

“The knob was merely tricky, hard to turn. Sometimes it got stuck. The door was unlocked when they found her, poor thing.”

She sits in a corner, invisible. She waits to be found. When she is alone, she has tea parties.

Credits to: bottlerocket23


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