Poppet

Poppet sat quietly inside his enclosure wondering for the gazillionth time why nobody ever came to visit him. The enclosure seemed to be four feet by four feet and at least four feet tall. There was plenty of room. His closest neighbor, Clown, with the not-so-perfect make-up was only two feet high at best. Poppet didn’t care that his face was a little off, his features a bit skewed so it was difficult to look right at him all the time. Clown would fit inside the enclosure. Clown could hang out for a bit. Poppet tried to catch Clown’s eye.

“Hey Clown?”

Clown was still, tilting a little to the left, his back braced against the frame of an old, closed doorway, a meager sliver of light just visible at the bottom. Poppet thought Clown was probably still asleep even though his eyes were stuck open. He tried again, a little louder.

“Clown! Hey Clown? Wanna come over for a while?” Poppet listened, enthralled by the sound of his voice muffling against the walls of the enclosure. Had it always done that? Could Clown even hear him? The enclosure was pretty solid. “HEY CLOWN!” The enclosure vibrated a bit, the walls seeming to shudder then settled. Clown remained frozen, his face empty, eyes staring blindly into the void. Poppet huffed and scowled. Seriously, Clown had been asleep forever. Why couldn’t he wake up and just talk with him? They used to be pretty good friends back in the day. Poppet could remember talking with Clown about anything and everything, conversations that had gone on for days, weeks even. What had happened to them? Was it the door? Poppet gave the door a stern look, trying to remember when it had shown up? Had that been when Clown had started drifting away and dozing off? Was Door responsible? Come to think of it, Door had arrived at about the same time the enclosure had been built. Coincidence? Poppet stewed in contemplation and watched the shadows pass back and forth behind Door, the light changing with each crossing.

Laughter seemed to drift around outside Poppet’s enclosure. He turned his head to look for the source. All manner of things cluttered the perimeter of his vision, scattered and piled in such a way that it looked like a hoarder had once resided here. Poppet probed the darkness with his white-rimmed eyes, trying to focus on the items that were closest. The light had dimmed so much that nothing seemed entirely solid anymore and it was difficult to see everything as well as he once had. He thought the shape over there was a stuffed bear. He could remember a bear being there, its fur matted and worn, large patches of fabric showing through on the belly. Ignoring the fact that Bear seemed to have a personal friend curled under one arm, a large, black spider with gigantic eyes, Poppet called out through the enclosure.

“Bear? Bear, didn’t you used to be a pillow?” His voice bounced back, muffled and lifeless. Bear probably couldn’t hear him any better than Clown had. When had the enclosure become so strong?

A short distance past Bear lay another shape that Poppet recognized and he felt excitement spark in his chest. Forgetting himself he grinned like a fool.

“Sock Monkey! My old friend! How have you been?”

Sock Monkey lay almost on his side, one long arm thrown up over his face, the other sticking straight out on the other side. Both legs curled gently backwards, his feet stopping only a couple inches from his once bright, red bottom. Poppet could see Sock Monkey’s face reflecting in the old, dusty mirror beside him, the spidery, broken glass showing multiple views of his profile. His red mouth was closed and his eyes were open, empty of life. He and Sock Monkey had shared some good laughs. Everything had been a joke to Sock Monkey. Poppet’s smile faded as he realized that Sock Monkey, like Clown and Bear seemed to be asleep.

“Won’t anyone wake up? Won’t anyone talk to me?”

Clown seemed to shimmer a bit in the dusty light. Poppet watched him, waiting for a sign that Clown was awake. He spotted the string around Clown’s neck, a black lanyard ending in a clear, plastic rectangle. Had that been there before? He couldn’t remember.

The enclosure itself seemed different to Poppet. It was the same three by three space it had always been. He studied the walls, clear like glass but solid like stone. Poppet imagined it had been bigger and not so hard once, but he couldn’t be sure. The heavy, gray chains wrapped around it looked as sturdy as ever. Poppet yawned. A two by two space was pretty roomy when it was all his own. Lazily he watched the shapes around him, each one dark and immobile. Yup, good thing he didn’t have to share his area. This place was barely big enough for him. With his head and limbs resting against the enclosure Poppet slept.

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