After Party

As always, Lenore’s playroom is filled with wonderful things today! Strings of roses curl pinkly across the wallpaper, each flower lighting up like a round firefly by the sun spilling through the curtainless window. It’s a modest room, but the day seems somehow to fill and expand its walls as one would imagine a balloon. The ceiling is a sky over the happy scene of Lenore and her teatime attendants. A tall, trusty clock stands with steady hands, punctuating the silence with a pleasant tik tik tik until—

Pierre, across from Lenore at the foot of the table, flings his papier mâché arms with wild glee, “It’s very good of you to have hosted us for this tea party, Lenore!” The puppet’s painted smile beams, a joyously jagged, ever-living expression painted onto his form. “I do LOVE receiving your invitations.”

“Too true,” seconds Wilfred, the stuffed lamb to Lenore’s left.

“And what a day for it!” exclaims The Lady with a twist of her parasol, “Shall I pour the tea?”

Baby Doll wiggles out an ecstatic, “Tii-tumpafh!” A clear sign to all to begin the festivities.

The puppet prince raises his kettle, “Shall we?”

“We shall!” salutes The Lady.

The now-brewed teapot makes a light clink as it makes contact with the porcelain hand of The Lady. Rapturously, the party-goers watch as the pretty doll tilts the pot and eases air into each cup, starting with Baby Doll’s cup and going round clockwise.

Lenore accepts the tea graciously, knowing that when she is old enough to handle the bulky pot, it will be her turn as the host to pour the tea. Wilfred receives his tea next. His woolen hooves brace the cup as he blows away imaginary steam.  The Lady then turns to the cup of Mr. Phone, a rotary fellow with a handsome smile. 

“Mr. Phone! Ring once for one lump of sugar, and TWICE for two!” said Pierre, with an endless grin.


The table buckled with laughter.

“Still ever the sweet tooth, I see!” Pierre’s grin brightens as his cup is filled with wind, “Thank you, Lady.”

“My pleasure,” says The Lady, keeping her attention on his teacup and then her own.

“Thank you for inviting me, Lenore. I’m awfully grateful for such a cordial offer,” hums Wilfred, stirring cream into his cup with his embroidered paw.

“Wilfred, you goof, you’re always invited,” Pierre scoffs, “Me, on the other hand . . .”

Mr. Phone rings! Wilfred reaches to pick it up.

“Well, that’s silly!” he sets Mr. Phone down gently, his teacup on the table reflecting into his button eyes.

“What did Mr. Phone say?” asks The Lady.

Lenore’s head tilts inquisitively.

Baby Doll coos while playing with the table cloth, before The Lady swats her hand away.

“He said that Lenore doesn’t like to invite Pierre because he’s scary,” Wilfred says plainly, ”Isn’t that silly?”

The Lady huffs in scandal. Such talk is unbecoming.

“Well, isn’t that funny!” Pierre chortles, motionless in the face despite the texture of his words.

Isn’t that funny.

“Lenore isn’t afraid, Mr. Phone! How ridiculous, no . . . no, she’s only shy,” The Lady says to Pierre. 

Wilfred is reminded of his manners. “What a lovely dress you have on, Lady!” 

Baby Doll swings her heavy head in agreement.

“Oh this old thing?! I’ve had it ever since it was painted on me!” The Lady blushes softly.

Wilfred nods, “It has aged like wine, My Lady.”

RING RING! Wilfred picks up Mr. Phone.

“Mr. Phone is asking if Lenore remembers painting Our Fair Lady after—”

Pierre’s strings throw up with a start. “Well, if you ask ME, she could’ve used a steadier hand!”

Lenore, embarrassed, slumps into her saucer.

“Manners, Lenore,” says The Lady, though facing the puppet.

Lenore whips up to adjust her posture. She remembers to keep her shoulders back and her head lifted high, as if held in place by thread.

“How about another round of tea?” Before getting an answer, Pierre jolts alive, sloshing the nothing-tea in broad swinging motions. He goes round the table, humming something without pattern until interrupted by Wilfred.

“But Pierre…” He starts.


The dry, hollow shell of a papier-mâché head swivels in Wilfred’s direction. 


“If I’m not mistaken, Lenore has barely touched her cup.”

Wilfred feels satisfied in having remembered this detail, not out of consideration for Lenore, but in some unidentifiable ‘Aha!’ moment. But then, Wilfred recognizes something erratic in Pierre’s lasting stare: a sense of denial. Pierre’s motionless body is brimming with energy.

“Lenore,” The Lady speaks, “Your tea is going to get cold.”

RING RING! No one picks up Mr. Phone.

RING RING! Hesitation.

RING RING!  It would be rude not to answer the call.

A lone hoof approaches the phone, threatening to end the silence. It is met rapidly with eight strings, slicing through the lamb’s arm. Plastic beads scatter all across the floor.

Pierre smiles. “Wilfred, I think you dropped your spoon. Allow me to answer him.” A long, long arm reaches to wrest the phone from its resting place, “Helloooooooooo? INTERESTING . . . Oh yes! That sounds like good fun! I’ll tell the others.” Mr. Phone’s body is slammed into itself.

“Mr. Phone thinks we should play a game.”

“Oh, delightful! What shall we play? Did he say . . .?” The lady stares into the distance above Mr. Phone’s head.

Wilfred’s posture slumps, “I like games . . .” 

“Mr. Phone would like to play a game of I Spy,” Pierre’s smile spreads even further. 

I Spy is Baby Doll’s favorite game! She releases a tiny roar of approval.

“Mr. Phone should go first because he proposed the game.” The Lady glows in pride of her own etiquette.

RING RING! Wilfred’s arm fumbles before picking up Mr. Phone.

“Mr. Phone? Mr. Phone, are you there?” The Lamb asks meekly.

“Oh this flavor is DELIGHTFUL!” Pierre exclaims.

“Yes, tell us, Lenore, what did you use to make this?” The Lady chimes in.

Wilfred raises his voice lightly above the conversation. “Mr. Phone spies something pink.”

The Lady snaps back her attention to the game, “Hmmm. Pink? Could it be the wallpaper?”

Mr. Phone doesn’t ring.

“Perhaps it is none other than Our Fair Lady’s rosy cheeks?” Pierre smiles.

“Oh you flatterer! Well, Mr. Phone?”


“Mr. Phone…could it be your button n..ose . . .?” Wilfred tries to take a sip of tea but can’t even lift it to his mouth. Met with silence from Mr. Phone, he tries again, “Maybe the teacupsssss…” His deflating voice manages a whisper.

No rings.

The Lady concedes, “Maybe we should ask for a hint.”

The party returns their attention to Mr. Phone expectantly. In three motions, Mr. Phone slowly moves his stressed gaze in the direction of Lenore. Tik. Tik. Tik. In the corner of her mouth, there is something curiously pink! The open window brings a wind to Pierre’s back. Crawling across the table, Baby Doll giggles, eager to solve the puzzle. She grabs the pink thing and yanks. Lenore’s whole torso collapses into the table as Baby Doll, like a small magician, pulls endless yards and yards of sullied, brown-pink fabric out of her mouth. Lenore’s body puddles into a pile of skin, now emptied.

Show’s over.

Paint chips fly in wild abandon from Pierre’s smile as he releases a violent sequence of shrieks and pained moans. 

The party-goers go limp in their chairs, now unstrung. Tea cups, spoons, and plates all crash into the malfunctioning table, the overhead light pummels onto the table as the strings spasm, the looming clock spinning erratically, ringing in reverse, the ceiling is a sky, the ceiling is a sky, the ceiling is a sky and Pierre is the sun, the centerpoint of it all, thrashing.


Silence. Pierre and Mr. Phone sit in recognition of each other. Their eye contact doesn’t break as Pierre methodically returns each tea cup to its starting position. The puppet crawls desperately onto the table, determined to make things perfect again. In airy, marionette movements, he shoves rotting curtain back down the flabby gullet of Lenore’s corpse. Carefully, Wilfred is stitched back together, restuffed but emptier. Some plastic beads remain on the floor. Mr. Phone watches the clock rewind to 4 p.m. Lenore’s playroom is filled with wonderful things today!

“It’s very good of you to have hosted us for this tea party, Lenore!”