Short Stories

Nursery Rhymes #3

Prompt: A vindictive witch uses “I’m a Little Teapot” as inspiration for punishment.

Marguerite smiled as the doorman led the chauffeur, Jason, into the parlor. She was not smiling because she was happy. No she was smiling because she had proof that Jason had stolen her jewels and today was the day she would enact her revenge.

Once Jason stood in front of her she dismissed the rest of the servants. “Do you know why you are here today?” Marguerite asked.

Jason shook his head. “No ma’am.”

“I know you took my ruby necklace and the sapphire earrings my dearly departed Wilbur gave me long ago.”

“I…I planned to return them, I promise!” he cried, finally looking up to meet her eyes. He apparently didn’t like the cruel gleam he found there because he looked away just as quick.

“I may have believed that if you hadn’t held on to them for three weeks.” Marguerite idly inspected her nails. “Now the question i what form your punishment will take.”

Jason didn’t say a word. He’d heard rumor that his mistress was a cruel, cruel woman and he didn’t want to provoke her any more than he already had. And he never would have the stolen the jewels if he’d had any other option.

Marguerite rang the bell and ordered tea, making Jason wait to learn his fate. Finally her tea arrived and he saw when inspiration struck, making her eyes light up. “You will have a say in your punishment,” she decreed.

Jason looked at her in surprise. “I will?”

Marguerite sat up straight. “You may leave with a horrible recommendation. Or you can sing a little song for me.”

“What song?” Jason quickly asked. He needed the job and the money it paid to care for his ailing sister. She was why he’d stolen the jewels, wanting to sell them to pay for her treatments. But once he’d gotten his hands on the jewels he just couldn’t do it.

“You will not find out until you agree to the performance. and you shall have to give it your all.”

Jason took a deep breath. “I’ll do it.”

She held up her tea cup as though she were saluting him. “A little children’s poem called ‘I’m a Little Teapot.’ I would like you to sing it.”

“That is your wish?” Jason asked, his tone incredulous.

Marguerite pursed her lips. “Begin your song and dance or I shall begin writing your dismissal.”

I’m a little tea pot, short and stout.

Jason started out strong but his movements became lackluster as he thought of how demeaning the situation was. By the time he mentioned his “spout” he wasn’t moving at all.

“Start over,” Marguerite commanded.

Even though Jason wanted to refuse, a poor recommendation would surely be less humiliating, he found that he couldn’t.

He sang and danced but he wasn’t in control of himself. Then, after the third repetition, things got worse.

As the words “short and stout” left his lips he felt as though a giant hand pushed down on his hand. His spine crunched and he was several inches shorter. His stomach bulged.

When he said “handle” and “spout” his arms locked into position.

And then he steamed up, shouting as his insides boiled.

As soon as his cries broke off Marguerite called for the butler. “Put him with the others,” she ordered.

They always chose to stay, never realizing they’d chosen death over a dismissal until it was too late.


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