Written for Microcosms, my prompts were “tea-lover”, “restaurant” and “memoir”.
A Cup of Tea
I stare at the tea menu. Darjeeling or Assam? Perhaps white tea. Green tea. Oolong? I go back to the Darjeeling, then smile at the waitress and order. At least, I hope it was a smile and not a grimace. It’s difficult to smile when your heart is lying crushed in a box on the seat next to you.
“You too?” a dishevelled-looking man with a shoebox under his arm asks me.
I glance from his face to the shoebox and back, then nod. To my relief, he shuffles to a table in the corner, carefully placing the box on the table. Then I catch my own reflection in the window, red-rimmed eyes partly blocked by the back-to-front letters of the tea shop’s name.
The waitress returns to my table with my tea. “You’ll need this one,” she says with a shy smile and an accent I can’t quite place. “On the house.” I stare at the glass teapot and the bunch of flowers slowly opening on the bottom. Cream and red and green.
“It’s called Heart’s-ease,” the woman at the table next to me says, not taking her eyes from the flowers. “Supposed to be able to cure anything. I’ve only ever seen pictures of it.”
I pick up the old delivery box and open it. Inside is my stinging, half-beating heart, its cogs and wheels and pipes all scattered. No wonder my chest ached so. I take a small screwdriver and go to work, the tea’s healing aroma filling the air. I glance over at the waitress and smile.