The girl lived alone in the house, though that is not exactly the truth, since she was not alive. But she imagined she was alive, and living alone, without parents. There were guests, of course, who would sit with her for tea, there at the square oak table with the lace table cloth.
Though that is not exactly the right either—there never were actual guests, only the suggestion of guests—the set table, the kettle on the stove. Everything was in place, ready for guests who were going to come.
To a doll, the future is different. Anticipation is all they have. They would hardly know what to do if a friend or strange came knocking. They would be paralyzed, unable to move. So many hours of preparing, of imagining the perfect guest, the perfect tea, and then the realization that it could all go wrong. Imagine, to discover the door doesn’t open, that the box of tea has nothing in it--that the lid itself cannot even be opened. Imagine finding out that the stove doesn’t work, that the faucet is dry. Imagine having nothing to say to them, being unable even to stand.
It's best then that the guests are coming, but don’t arrive. That way, she can rest in her chair, gazing out the wide expanse of the back of the house, overlooking the strange cloth hills, where it never rains and the sun sets sometimes in a blink of an eye.
First published in Frontera Journal in July 2021.