Lola and Quinn sat on Emily’s lap. That was her name, their new owner. She pet them like real animals. It felt nice.
The driveway was long and sloped uphill. A house loomed in the distance – a large, towering house, as old as its owners. The yard was covered in leaves and dying trees. As they got closer, they could see that house was run-down too.
They rode with Emily in the wheelchair around the side of the house, up a ramp and into a back entrance. The house was more like a castle than a simple home, but it was draped in cob webs.
As they came inside, they felt like they’d been transported to another time. The décor was fancy, but faded. Rose-covered wall paper pealed from the walls. Velvet chairs were arranged around red rugs and carved tables.
Ralph wheeled Emily into a room with large windows and a tall bookcase. He turned on the radio, tuned to the classical music station. “Tea will be served in 20 minutes,” he said. Emily closed her eyes and listened to the music, all the while petting her new toys.
“This is my favorite room,” she told them. “You’ll like it too, Tabitha,” she said to Quinn. Here you can watch the birds and squirrels all day.
Tabitha? My name is not Tabitha! She thought about protesting, but it felt so good to be stroked on her back. Sophia never did that!
“And you,” Emily said examining Lola up close. “What should I call you?” Lola got a good look at Emily as the two came face to face. Lola had never seen such a wrinkled person up close before. Despite the many folds around her eyes and mouth, her skin looked very, very soft. Her hands were the softest hands Lola had ever felt. Even softer than Sophia’s. And Emily smelled nice, too – like the finest soap ever made.
“Oh, I see you have a name tag,” Emily said as she noticed the red heart hanging from Lola’s ear. “Lola. That’s a very nice name. I shall call you Lola! Lola and Tabitha, my puppy and my kitty. What a lucky woman I am today.”
And so the two of them relaxed into the lap of the very elderly Emily and fell asleep from the warm sun and warm hands.
“Tea time!” Ralph’s voice startled everyone awake as he came in with a cart on wheels. He lovingly set out tea and cookies. There were two small bowls filled with cookie crumbs. Ralph set Lola and Quinn in front of their bowls. And just like that the four of them enjoyed afternoon tea.
“Lola, this is just like the old days. Remember tea time with Sophia?” Quinn smiled.
“I do. But these cookies, these are the best I’ve ever tasted,” Lola said as she chewed the last crumb from her bowl.”
“Clearly, our new owners have very fine taste,” said Quinn.
“Indeed,” said Lola as Ralph filled up her dish for a second helping.
The sun was starting to set and the house was getting dark. Emily wheeled herself into the bedroom while Ralph took Quinn and Lola up a long, winding staircase. They came upon a room in the attic that was filled with toys. There were cars and trucks made from metal, toy soldiers set up for battle, a hobby horse big enough for a child Sophia’s age, doll strollers, games and more. Ralph placed Quinn and Lola in two small wooden beds, with carved headboards, that were just exactly their size. He placed soft blankets up to their paws and tucked them in with a kiss.
Lola and Quinn listened to Ralph’s footsteps as he slowly made his way back downstairs. Moonlight filled the attack room. Well, this was it. Their first night in a new home. They weren’t going to waste it in their beds. Quinn was nocturnal, after all, and Lola was impossibly curious. Time to explore!
“Lola, check this out,” Quinn said as she stood at the foot of a tall glass cabinet.
“What is it?” Lola replied.
They cabinet had 4 shelves. On the top shelf sat a teddy bear, dressed in a soldier’s uniform and hard cap. On the middle shelf was a bunny so thread bare it was practically invisible. On the bottom shelf was a doll in a beautiful lace dress. Next to her were accessories: a bottle, a bib and a birth certificate from “Doll Palace.” And the fourth shelf was empty.
As Quinn and Lola stood in front of the glass case, the most amazing thing happened. The door to the cabinet creaked eerily and then opened, slowly. A shaft of moonlight revealed a line: one by one, the attic’s toys lined up in front of the door.
The first to enter was a small pink dog. One of his paws was torn and he struggled to get to the bottom, empty shelf. The door closed and the dog stood in the light of the moon.
Lola and Quinn blinked and he was gone.
“Lola, did you see that?”
“Where did he go?” Quinn replied.
The glass door opened and a yellow teddy bear with a missing eye entered and stood where the pink dog had just been. Within an instant, she was gone too.
Lola and Quinn were bewildered, shocked and frightened. They were in a most unusual place indeed. At once, the ran back to their small beds, pulled the covers over their heads and stayed just that way until morning.