A writing workshop prompt – what happened after Alice left the tea party?
‘She didn’t eat much.’ The Mad Hatter waved his arm over the sandwich mountains, biscuit hills and islands of uncut cake which filled the table.
Dormouse scrabbled up onto the white cloth and wound his way between the food, nibbling here and there. He stayed well clear of the teapot, scrambling further away when he caught the March Hare glancing from the teapot to him and back again, smiling slyly.
‘No, she didn’t.’ The March Hare sniffed. ‘Appetite of a bird.’
Dormouse peered skyward, crumb-covered whiskers twitching. Seeing no bird he addressed a lemon drizzle cake. ‘She really should have tried this,’ he mumbled with his mouth full.
The Mad Hatter wagged a finger. ‘A well brought up young lady is Miss Alice. A good thing she’s no longer here to suffer your bad manners, Dormouse.’
The March Hare waggled his ears. ‘Did your parents or nanny not show you how to behave at tea?’
Dormouse’s nose turned pink. ‘Didn’t have a nanny and there were too many of us, no time to teach manners.’
‘I bet’–March Hare glowered–‘you don’t know the difference between a cake fork and a dessert fork.’
Dormouse hung his head, shamed into silence. His cheeks were too stuffed with cucumber sandwich to speak anyway.
‘Or’–Mad Hatter shook his head sorrowfully–‘which is the fish knife and which is the bread and butter knife.’ He glared at Dormouse. ‘Do you?’
Dormouse gulped the last sandwich crumb. ‘I don’t eat fish,’ he said, by way of a defence.
March Hare rolled his amber eyes. ‘Neither do I, but I know which fork is which, which spoon is which, which knife is which.’ He sniffed again. ‘Manners. The young these days.’
Dormouse was fed up. He spied a scone on a plate, jam and cream in pots waiting nearby. But the spoons – whatever spoons they were – were too big for his tiny paws. He scampered to the cream, dipped those paws, and most of his front legs, into the pot and spread the thick luscious mess on the scone. Quick as a blink, he swished his tail through the jam and added the resulting smears to the cream.
Mad Hatter and March Hare gasped in horror.
‘Oh no,’ they cried as one. ‘How could you?’
March Hare clutched his long throat. ‘Not cream first!’