a cuppa darling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A Cuppa Darling

by Winslow Triple

For the last half-year, these moments on the bluff have become my faves of the day.

Finding a semi-comfortable seat on the jagged rocks, smelling the sea in the distance, pulling my shawl close around my shoulders against the chill morning air, and trying to imagine exactly what he's experiencing, in the rustic cabin we share, two miles down the trail.

By now he has stumbled, bleary-eyed and pajamed, into the kitchen, and once again has found my post-it note stuck to our red enamel tea kettle.

–Your cuppa darling awaits,  the note reads, in my girlish handwriting. 
–I'm on the bluff, drinking in the morning air.

Cuppa Darling.That's our pet name for Darjeeling. His fave flavor of tea.

He finds the teaball I prepared waiting for him in a mug. Loose tea contained in a silver ball on a chain, like always.

Only this time not quite like always. This time there's a tiny Oleander bud nestled inside the clump of tea. That little bud will have him doubled over in pain by mid day. He'll be screaming for a doctor. But there's no doctor anywhere around. That Oleander might even kill him. I don't know, I'm not a botanist.

Back in the rustic cabin, he strikes a strike-anywhere match against the rough bottom of the cast iron frypan, ignites the burner on the stove, and moves the red tea kettle (already lovingly filled with well water by Moi) onto the orange fingers of flame.

And now he goes to play those goddam congas again. He's not good. He thinks he's good but he's not. He...stumbles. He gets a groove going and then he drops it, loses the beat. It drives me crazy! I'd show him, but I can't play a lick. I'm an appreciator.

Right now, down there in the rustic cabin, as the teapot is starting to dance gently from the boiling water, he is playing the congas, over by the window, and fucking up the beat.

Look, I realize I'm using a metaphor here for how he is with everything. He can't seem to sustain a steady groove, a steady rhythm. Not with his music career. Not with his parents, who just dote on him. Not with his ex who milks him of money we don't have. Not with the congas and clearly not with me. He has to break the groove, he has to explore.  I'm looking down at the proof in the palm of my recently uncoiled fist.

Panties. Blue very sensible panties. Not mine. Definitely not mine. I wear black lace. These are blue and made of cotton. They're boring! The type of panties a boring woman wears. Why would he want a boring woman when he's got me. I found them in the bedding at "our" cabin. In the folds of the quilt my grandmother made, nearly a century ago, and which I have kept in pristine condition through the decades.

I showed them to him. The panties. He shrugged. Had no idea. Didn't think it was a big deal. Maybe they were Jessie's, he said, his student, who had, in fact, stayed at the cabin for a week last January, while we were in Tulum. Six months? These boring blue panties have just fluttered around the cabin like a barn swallow for six months, only to turn up now in my grandmother's quilt? I don't think so buster.

I knew Jessie had a crush on him. I even asked her, once, months ago, in a sisterly way, to try to seduce him, just to see if he was faithful to me, and then she was to report back to me the results. She seemed to like the idea. But she reported back "no way." He was a total gentleman. Didn't even try to kiss her.

Which must have been demoralizing for her, to be rebuffed like that, and so maybe she followed up on it, redoubled her efforts, seduced him for real when I was auditioning for Cats, and these blue panties were her way of reporting back. I should have insisted on seeing her panties. I have no idea what kind she wears. I bet they're blue.

A bird just landed on my bluff. A jay, or a robin or something. I don't know. I'm not an ornithologist. It seems to be looking at me, telling me something. Cocking its head, this way, that way. What? It seems to be saying Aren't You Forgetting Something?  This jay...or whatever it is, is starting to bug me.

By now the sound of the quaking tea kettle has overtaken the sound of his congas, and he drops the beat, like always, and sees that a thin shaft of steam is rising out of the hole in the whistle cover. And a moment later the whistle follows. It's time for a cuppa darling.

The jay chirps. It seems to really be trying to say something to me. And then it hits me...a thought, not the bird. It hits me: My sister! My sister Rachel and her then husband (now deceased) Roy stayed in the cabin in March, when hubby and I went to that fucking sweat lodge. Rachel and Roy slept in the big grandma quilt bed. And Rachel wears boring panties. I've seen them. 

Oh shit! I stand up suddenly. The jay flaps away.  I clutch my shawl in a panic. Right now, two miles away, he's pouring boiling water over poisoned tea. He's letting it steep. He goes back to the congas for a few slaps.

Even if I hurry, there's no way I'll get there in time to stop him. I sit back down on the jagged bluff. The rocks poke into my butt. The jay flies back across my field of vision, almost brushing me with its wings. I wonder how much I can get for those congas.


Submitted: July 29, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Winslow Triple. All rights reserved.

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