A CUP OF TEA
By Melody Edwards
As she sat on the bench, she watched people scurrying around chattering, and preparing for the upcoming holidays. Decorations were hanging everywhere, from street lamps to garage doors. Children played and squealed with delight, anticipating all the goodies in store for them. Lovers strolled and stole kisses… It was a joyous time of year when the spirit of giving seized the hearts of people everywhere. Yet, for some, it was a lonely and sorrowful time – a time of painful memories and broken dreams.
She pulled her coat closer to guard against the piercing cold, but nothing could warm the chill that she felt in her heart. Looking down at the notebook beside her on the bench, she thought about how passionate she once was about writing. It was her gift for as long as she could remember. As a young girl, she sometimes spent hours in her room writing stories and poetry, which gave her much fulfillment. This bench was one of her favorite spots to come and write.
Today, she would write her last letter.
Visiting the nursing home always sifted her energy. Her mom’s recognition of her was sporadic. It was painful to see the woman who was once so vibrant, living in a world of her own making. So many times, she wished she could pick up the phone to call her mother when life became overwhelming, but since she was 16, her mom’s mental illness made that impossible.
There was no one to tell after the rape. There was no one to talk to when her beautiful daughter was stillborn. There was no one to talk to after her son’s death in a car accident. There was no one to talk to when her husband walked out on her after 20 years of marriage. There was no one to talk to after leaving the doctor’s office today, and receiving the news. She felt numb; there was nothing left. Life had drained her. There was nothing more to give. She doubted that her mother would even miss her.
The rustling of leaves and the gentle touch of a gloved hand startled her, pulling her away from her thoughts. She turned to look into the eyes of an old, frail woman who peered at her with concern. The red coat seemed to be too big for the woman’s small frame, and was almost too bright for the eyes. “Are you alright?” the woman asked. She nodded. The woman stood straighter and somehow didn’t seem so frail or small after all. The woman reached out her hand and said – “Come – let’s have a cup of tea.”
She hesitated, looking down at her notebook. She had come here to write a final goodbye. But, there was something about the woman standing in front of her, with her hand out and a determined look in her eye. For some reason, she felt compelled to go.
As if in a trance, she picked up her notebook and followed the woman. They passed candy stores, bakeries, clothing stores, and toy stores, all filled with holiday cheer, but she only felt numb inside. They stopped at a small local tearoom. It was a cozy, quaint shop filled with all kinds of scones, pastries, exotic teas, and wonderful aromas. The shop owner smiled at the old woman and escorted them to a booth. The woman had the sweetest smile as she told the shop owner to bring her usual and something to warm her friend’s heart.
The old woman sat silently until the tea came and when it arrived she said, “sip it slowly.” Then she began to tell her story. When she finished she looked across the table, and saw tears streaming down the young woman’s face. She smiled and said, “You will write my story.”
The young woman picked up the pen and notebook and began to write, as the tea warmed her soul…