A Cup of Tea

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A cup of tea makes everything better. Doesn't it...?

Submitted: July 27, 2014

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Submitted: July 27, 2014

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It was tradition. It was habit. It was the remedy to every problem and the source of comfort in even the hardest of times. It was what she and so many like her had grown up believing. When you didn’t know what to do, when you were lost or upset, troubled and burdened, there was one thing that you could make that would help.


A cup of tea.


Her grandmother had said that tea was a drink that relieved thirst and dissipated sorrow. The words ‘put the kettle on’ seemed able to calm even the worst of anxieties.

It was what you offered when you knew there was nothing you could say to help the situation.


In the last year, she’d heard that phrase far too much. Friends and family had hoped to ease her suffering with mugs of Earl Grey and cups of Darjeeling. Sometimes, for a while, it had worked. The warmth of the tea and the comfort of their company had helped her almost forget. The laughter and the biscuits helped dull the ache inside that had nothing to do with hunger.


But eventually, the time would come when she’d have to go home. There was only so much tea one could drink in a sitting, people had their own lives to go on living.


And then the truth would come crashing back down on top of her as she turned her key in the lock.


That he was gone. That he’d never be back. And that no amount of tea would ever change that fact.

That whenever she was there, all she wanted to do was cry.

She had thought about moving, many times, about leaving the past where it belonged and carrying on with her life. But aside from the obvious financial difficulty of such a thing…deep in her heart, she didn’t want to.

He wasn’t with her, but she could still feel him all around her and as much as that hurt, she couldn’t imagine a life without that feeling.


The memories that filled their little apartment were all that kept her going at first.

His clothes still hung in the wardrobe, washed and pressed and waiting for him to crease them once again. His aftershave still sat on the shelf in the bathroom. She’d opened it once in a panic, terrified she might not be able remember the scent. The rush of emotion she’d felt at smelling that familiar smell had almost made her drop the bottle onto the tiles beneath her feet.


The habits they’d formed were ingrained in her very soul and were the only things that dragged her out of her bed after the funeral. He had always walked the dog, she had made the tea. Every morning she still made a pot of tea for two, even though one half of it remained undrunk. Staining the inside of the teapot they’d bought at an agricultural fair the summer after they’d moved in a deeper shade of brown. Habits were hard to break.


Luckily she had her work to occupy her days and friends had helped to try and fill her evenings with distraction. Weekends were the worst. Forty-eight hours of alone time. People did invite her to things, there were shopping trips and meals out, theatre performances and the occasional road trip. But for the most part, she was alone. She started going for walks, although even that had been hard at first. She visited the local parks, of which there were several. Hours were wasted wandering along gently curving paths through ornamental gardens and sculpted topiaries, sitting on benches beside delicately scented rose gardens and carefully planted flowerbeds. Trying to lose herself in a book, trying to figure out what she was going to do. 


She had to make a change. In what she did every day. In everything. It had been long enough now. She had been able to say his name without crying for the first a few months ago, now she found she could smile without feeling guilty for doing so. But what to do?

She needed a challenge that would help occupy her mind and help her ease herself away from the memories. Then one day while watching people in the park the idea had come to her. Instead of running from what had happened, why not use it. And so she’d started writing. Making sure she did a little every day, in a small moleskin covered notebook he’d bought her when she’d once mentioned keeping a journal, she wrote down her story.


Their story.


It was romantic, she figured, that they’d met unexpectedly in possibly the least romantic of ways and yet love had blossomed and bloomed between them. He’d turned out to complete the parts of her she never even realised were incomplete. They’d bought their flat, got a dog, and when they got married the sun even shone down on things. People liked reading love stories, someone might enjoy reading theirs.


And so, sat in a small tearoom in the middle of the city’s largest park, she had reached the point of their story that she knew she wouldn’t want to write. The rainy day, not particularly different from any other, when it all went wrong.


They’d made love as the rain coursed down the window in the early hours of the morning, falling asleep in each other’s arms. He’d woken when the whines of the dog could no longer be ignored and she’d followed. A kiss to her cheek and a promise to return with pain au chocolat from the local bakery and he’d gone, their bouncy spaniel bounding after him. She’d showered and made the tea.

And waited.


And waited.


The tea was long since cold by the time the phone call came…


"There's always time for tea," An unexpected voice broke through her musing. "And there's always room for cake." Movement within the blur that had become the table top made her focus her eyes and lips curved into a smile to see a small plate with a floral pattern now sitting before her, on it rested a generous wedge of what looked like carrot cake with a small silver spoon.

She looked up into the smiling face above her own, a young man with sparkling eyes.


“I’m sorry?” She asked.

“Cake.” He repeated. “There’s always room for cake.”

“Yes, I suppose there is,” She dropped her gaze to slice decorated with chopped walnuts and carefully piped frosting. It did look delicious. “But I, well, I didn’t order any cake.”

“I know.” 

“I don’t think I understand,” She tipped her head slightly in confusion.

“You’ve been coming in here for the last month,” He replied. “Every time the same. A pot of tea, no sugar and extra milk. And not once, not once, have you tried any of our cake.” His eyes twinkled down at her. “Today you looked sad. I thought some cake might help.”

“That’s a lovely thought, thank you,” She put down her pen and reached into her bag to retrieve her purse. “How much do I-?”

His hand landed gently on hers, stopping her fingers in the middle of unzipping it and making her eyes meet his.

“No, please. It’s on the house.” His smile became shy, his cheeks a little pink. “Or, rather, on me.”

“Oh, you don’t have to,” She insisted softly, her cheeks now a little warmer in their colouring.

“I’d like to. Please?”

She hesitated but his almost pleading expression made up her mind for her.

“Thank you.”


“You’re welcome. And, perhaps, in return?”

“Yes?” Her eyebrows rose curiously.

“Perhaps you might tell me what you write about in that book of yours.”

“Perhaps.” She smiled, a little sadly.

“Is it a story?”

She nodded.

“I think it must be a love story.” The young man leant slightly against the chair beside her own.

“Oh? What makes you say that?”

“Sometimes your face has seemed so happy when you’ve been writing, love can bring that kind of joy. The kind that shines out of a person, in their eyes and in their smile.”

She nodded, not trusting her voice to stay level.

“And then other times, like now,” Tentatively, he reached out to touch her chin, without pressure making her face rise up to look more clearly into his. “You look so very sad. Lost, almost.”

She smiled, although her lips were trembling ever so slightly.

“Love can do that too.” His fingers were warm against her face. “When it goes away.”

“Or when it’s taken away.” Her voice was quiet and all at once the rest of the tea room, the rest of the park all seemed to slip away. Leaving just him and her, wisps of steam rising from her tea and one of her hands resting protectively over the open pages of her notebook.


“You don’t have to tell me,” His voice was gentle.

“I think I want to,” She surprised herself. “I think…I think it might help.”

“Have your cake first.” His thumb rose to brush her cheek lightly.

“Won’t you get into trouble? I mean, you’re at work.”

“My boss is very understanding.” He grinned, leaving the table long enough to flip the sign on the door from open to closed. “Besides, it looks like rain. We’re never busy when it rains and I’m due a break at any rate.”


He made himself a tea and brought it to the table, along with another spoon fetched upon her insistence, so he could help her eat the cake.

“It is yummy.” She mumbled, voice muffled with crumbs, before giggling. “Although, I think you could probably add a touch more cinnamon.”

“Would you like a job?” He laughed.

“Are you offering?” She replied before both seemed to be attacked with nerves and both looked down at the plate with the half eaten cake.


The rain he predicted began to fall outside, making things darker and providing a pattering soundtrack for the rest of their conversation.

“It was a rainy day when I lost my husband. He was walking the dog when a squirrel…or something…ran out. Charlie, our spaniel, ran after it. Stephen ran after him. The driver didn’t see them in time.”

“I’m sorry.” His hand lowered his spoon onto the plate with a soft tinkle and moved to rest on top of hers and squeezing before smiling softly. “But my friends call me Patrick.”

“I’m Amanda.” She smiled back.

 

With that, her new chapter began.


© Copyright 2019 Jo Jackson. All rights reserved.

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