Friday Fiction – Tea Party

What a great idea – to recycle some old prompts while Rochelle takes a well-deserved break from commanding the massed ranks of the Fictioneers. Let’s hope we can all survive her absence! Her blog still hosts the rules, prompt and links to other stories. This week’s prompt came from Mary Shipman.

My original story for is can be found at this link if you’re interested. My new story is below. I’d love to hear what you think, about either or both! I’m also away this weekend (sadly not in the same place as Rochelle, but happily at the wedding of a very dear longstanding friend), so please forgive any delay in reading / responding to your comments and extreme curtailment of my reading / commenting.

mary-shipman-old-wallpaper

Tea Party

“Welcome, welcome,” cried Florence, bustling around the little sitting room, a whirl of crinoline and scarves. “Sit wherever you please.”

I perched on the edge of a too-small chair, and glanced around. The furnishings were tired and mismatched, but their mistress was clearly proud of her little house, and the warmth of its welcome vastly outweighed its lack of style.

“Maisy, sit up straight. We have company!” Florence whispered aloud, “Daisy, could you pass the sugar please?” Then, when her daughters answered her only with vacuous smiles from plastic faces, “I’m sorry Mummy, but you know, they are only dolls.”

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38 Comments

Filed under Friday Fiction, Writing

38 responses to “Friday Fiction – Tea Party

  1. Great imagery here, and I love the twist at the end. It struck me with a creepy vibe, but I wonder if I’m misinterpreting it. Is she just trying to be an enthusiastic mother? 🙂

  2. That’s a perfect scene-setter of an opening line. Well done!

  3. Dolls just lend themselves to a creepfest. Good one.

  4. Really creepy. But I’m confused about the last line. It’s written as if Florence is saying it, but would she admit they were only dolls, and who is ‘Mummy’ – is that the narrator?

    • Sorry it isn’t clear, Claire. I’ll try to find time to reread and see if I can clarify. My intention is – Mummy is the narrator, joining in her daughter Florence’s tea party (and Florence’s “daughters” are the dolls, Daisy and Maisy). And yes, Florence knows they are just dolls, she’s a child not an idiot, so she pretends to talk to them, but then comes out of character to talk to Mummy. I don’t know much about children, but this felt realistic to me from the little girls I’ve met and played with.

      • Ah, it works now I know that Florence is a child! I don’t know why that didn’t occur to me. I thought she was one of those odd adults who talks to their dolls like they are real. It all makes sense now!

  5. Dolls. They start off as our best friends and as we become adults are scary as hell. Well done!

  6. I read this as a sad story about the mother going insane, and her daughters trying to cope… but I might have misunderstood it.. not creepy at all — just terribly sad.

  7. I kind of agree with everyone else about it being sort of creepy and someone humoring a mother’s breakdown. From your comments I can see it different now. I loved the story though!

  8. Jen, I think if it weren’t a FF story, the readers wouldn’t come to it expecting creepiness or a bad ending. I thought it was Mom and daughter until I re-read it, then wondered…for just those reasons I mentioned. Shouldn’t have gone with that happy ending. 🙂

    janet

    • Well, I’m glad it worked at least on first reading, Janet. I know what you mean about expectations from FF. I try to go to each story without expectations, but it doesn’t always work and it’s definitely harder the more others I’ve read!

  9. So it’s make-believe? Good! I too worried that one or more trains hadn’t reached the station, but it was engrossing and descriptive. 🙂

  10. Well it seems my curled up lips caught the right drift – well its true that it can be seen from other perspectives, but I felt it cute lil story ! 🙂

  11. Jen, I wondered about the story until I come to the end, then I caught on what it was. I didn’t think it was creepy at all. Maybe it’s because I had a daughter with a big imagination. She played more with toy animals than dolls though (My Little Pony, etc). She also enjoyed dressing up as animals. She’s now an actress so it figures. Well written. 🙂 —Susan

  12. I also read the first story written for the prompt. It was good, but I enjoyed the second story more. 🙂 —Susan

  13. What a sweet story, I like the warm feeling of it.

  14. I love Maisy and Daisy! Beautifully written with a twist I should have expected, but didn’t!!!!!!

  15. In the beginning this had a delicious Alice in Wonderland feel. Then the delightful reality of a child explaining to her mother the ends and outs of “play.”

  16. This story has a beautiful warm mood, Jen, and Florence is a gorgeous character. I love the real picture you’ve painted of child’s play.

  17. “…“Maisy, sit up straight. We have company!” Hahaha. I can hear this in all seriousness and hopefulness. It’s always brave to sit on a too small chair.
    Ellespeth

  18. I thought this was lovely, truly delightful, once I worked out what was going on. I can see where some people got the ‘creepy’ vibe from though – I think it’s the daughters with the vacuous faces. If you’d called them ‘friends’ and the faces ‘painted’, it might have seemed more innocent and less creepy. On the other hand, maybe it’s just that some Fictioneers expect a creepfest and refuse to be disappointed!
    Lovely story.

  19. For me, the problem was that the description of Florence’s doll house seems so much like a real house that you can only see Florence as mistress of an actual house. I think a word or two changed here might keep things subtle and make it the charming little story it was meant to be.

  20. What a lovely take on the prompt! It took me until the last line to get it, so I went back and read it again. Delightful 🙂

  21. Dear Jen,

    I sensed when Florence told started telling her guests how to sit that she was a little girl. From start to finish and top to bottom I enjoyed this sweet story.

    Hope your weekend is going well and you’re enjoying friends.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

  22. Once I went through the comments and the intent was clear I went and re-read it through fresh eyes. A delightful tale once you ignore the hunch that all FF stories have a creepy intent 🙂
    I may have actually heard that last line from a child 🙂

  23. Dear Jen, Wonderful story – not creepy in the least. I have 7 granddaughters and I know how they love to play with the china dolls in my sun room! Sweet story. Thanks! Nan 🙂

  24. Poor Florence. But at least she’s happy. That was my first impression. I’ve now been through other comments and see that’s not the story. Ah well.

  25. I thought of Alice in Wonderland, her tea party and the Mad Hatter! Thanks for reminding me of childhood.

  26. Pingback: A Second Look (Friday Fiction) | elmowrites

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