Sitting down for tea

Victorian dolls house

Image : Pixabay


Kate’s limbs feel stiff. She tries to stretch her spine, flex her calves, the soles of her feet, but her body will not move from its rigid pose. She sits at the table, tea set before her, though she doesn’t remember boiling the kettle, fetching the pot, the tin with its green scented leaves.

She doesn’t recall sitting down. Where was she before this?

There was a dark room, heavy red curtains and beads the colour of rubies and sapphires, her father’s mill pond after heavy rain. There was the smell of dust and snuffed candles, the dim glow of a lamp.

The old woman. There was an old woman, swathed in shawls, heavy with gold jewellery and hanging at her neck a doll with chain link joints that made the limbs dance with every breath and Kate had so wanted the doll, so wanted to touch it.

But more, she’d wanted it for herself, the need so bad it bit harder than any she’d felt for men she’d fought over, any pair of boots she’d snatched from a display or feathered nonsense to decorate her hair. There had been a row – a fight – a shard of broken glass. Then … Nothing.

And now she sees her.

Dressed in black, the old woman stands by the window, staring from beneath her bonnet, face part hidden by the crepe frills, hand outstretched, reaching, reaching.

A scream bulges in Kate’s throat, pressing at her  lips, forever trapped.




41 thoughts on “Sitting down for tea

    1. Thanks pet! Yes, dolls are creepy – my Nan had a thing for china dolls, picking up the old heads and hands and making fresh bodies out of fabric and stuffing. Her flat was full of bits of china girls – really creepy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh yes, very effectively creepy! It’s so perfect for the photo, but then, with the photo I knew what was happening right away. Wish I could go back in time and read it without having seen the photo. and see how I interpreted it then — I think it would be even more freaky, the slow realization of the horror….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right, Joy – the photoa and the story are companion pieces I suppose. It can be useful with a very short story for the photo to tell part of the story for you, so maybe the piece wouldn’t make sense without the pic. Thanks for reading, my dear 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I’ll stand to take my tea from now on …

    This is as creepy as Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, a novella chilling enough for adults let alone the youngsters it’s aimed at. The button eyes of the mother figure remains strong in my memory!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Chris. To be even mentioned in the same breath as Gaiman (one of my writing heroes) is lovely for me 🙂 You know, Coraline is one of his books I haven’t read – shame on me. The Graveyard Book is one of his kids’ stories too, but still chilling enough for adults. It’s opening line (‘There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife’) is one of my favourites.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The only predictable thing about your writing is that it will be well worth the read. This would be an exceptional piece, but so much of your work is exceptional that I can’t say that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They are attractive in a very creepy way, though I’ve always liked miniature things. Small furniture, miniature play food. Ever seen Queen Mary’s dollshouse at Windsor Castle? Now that is a house to envy 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve never been to Windsor. Laura and Paul’s dad took them to get them away from the terrible thing that happened in our lives twenty years ago. They went to Legoland…
        I need to cauterise some of the connections in my brain 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Took my son to legoland a few years back – he adored it and I found it hell on earth 🙂 Wondsor itself is very pretty with lots of history, though of course with its royal connections has airs above its station.
        We can’t cut those associations, can we, no matter how we try


      4. The thing is, even after 20 years he’s constantly on my mind. The list of things that remind me of him goes on forever, but it’s OK; I don’t want to forget him.
        I love Lego, but I don’t think I want to vitit a town made of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is an example of what I like best about your flash fiction, Lynn, if I may say so. Love how you enter on the right note while still setting the stage, then add the detail, give it a twist, and get out. This one was particularly creepy when considered with the photo, and the photo + text resonates differently than just the test. But both stay with you, or should. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Walt! Yes, I think the text and photo go together and probably just the text on its own would give a slightly different impression. I like the idea of getting in, achieving the atmosphere you’d hoped for then getting out. Real hit-and-run fiction 🙂 Thanks for reading and for your very kind comments 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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