Trifecta: Tea for two

Written for the Trifecta Writing Challenge: Week Eighty-Six.

The Sad Kitten by Gary Robertson

The Sad Kitten, photo by Gary Robertson
(Beyond the Trail on flckr

Tea for Two

Three tea bags left in the canister, and I’ve already had two pots today. Extravagant. Harley would’ve watched me fill the kettle  the third time with his face knotted into the mournful kitten expression he’d  sport when he disapproved of something I did. Toward the end  he looked more like one of those scrawny, wrinkled bald cats than a mournful kitten.

Stretching those three tea bags through the weekend is going to be a challenge, but I’m all about the immediate gratification. Always have been. Self-indulgent, my mother said. Selfish.

Harley, possibly the least self-indulgent, selfish man on earth, would  make his soulful kitten face and try to teach me patience by example. Fifty years of Harley modelling appropriate behaviour, and I still whip through the groceries like the cupboard’s on fire rather than ration them until the pension cheque arrives.

I pour the brewed tea into the chipped turquoise mug I gave Harley on his thirty-fifth birthday, the mug he used every day until he couldn’t swallow any more and they hooked him up to those infernal tubes and machines and god knows what all at the hospital.

The news guy with the face like boiling porridge is interviewing a lady who’s homeless now  because her barbecue went nuts on her and exploded. The lady’s eyes start to get blurry and wet, and I grab the remote.

It’s hard to predict what’s safe. The smallest things have tripwires. Ladies with exploding barbecues, the first crocuses of spring, the sound of the neighbour’s schnauzer howling when she leaves in the morning. One minute I’m sitting on the couch watching the news guy, and the next minute I feel the crack in the calm, feel rage wild as a tornado howling on the other side.

I flip the TV over to Maury. Nothing’s going to fix the hole that Harley left, but there’s nothing like a cup of tea and a good dose of stupid for helping me jump over it one more time.

(333 words)



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  1. #1 by Draug419 on July 18, 2013 - 4:40 am

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who seeks out Maury and Jerry Springer guests to drown out bad days. Great piece.

    • #2 by Kallan Annie on July 19, 2013 - 3:30 am

      Thanks, Draug. We can always count on Maury and Jerry S. to reassure us that some people are even worse off than we are–even if they don’t realize it.

  2. #3 by Jo-Anne Teal (@jtvancouver) on July 18, 2013 - 6:22 am

    Oh my WOW. Kallan Annie, this is terrific writing! You have the voice, the scene, the emotion absolutely perfect. I know I said this before but…wow!

    • #4 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:34 am

      Thank you SO much, Jo-Anne. *hugs your comment close and chucks it under its lovely comment chin*

  3. #5 by Gabriella on July 18, 2013 - 7:08 am

    Excellent piece! The weary tone of the narrator is very palpable.

    • #6 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:35 am

      I’m so glad the tone came across. I was worried that people would start reading and just think, “is this woman ever going to make that cup of tea already?!” Thanks, Gabriella.

  4. #7 by mairzeebp on July 18, 2013 - 2:55 pm

    Loved this. Felt like I was sitting there waiting for tea. Well done! Thank you for linking up. ~Mary Beth

    • #8 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:36 am

      I’m sure she would have happily shared her cup with you, mairzeebp! Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  5. #9 by Lorri on July 18, 2013 - 3:46 pm

    I enjoyed reading this…tea speaks to me…and your words evoked how much I love it.

    • #10 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:37 am

      Tea always speaks to me, too, and it’s one of the first comforts I turn to in times of sadness and turmoil.

  6. #11 by Maggie Grace on July 18, 2013 - 6:30 pm

    Wonderful write. Can relate to the character’s emotions and fragility and the thoughts going through her mind. The triggers. Yes, stupid and a cup of tea is a good way to lose an hour or so.

    • #12 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:39 am

      What a lovely, thoughtful comment. Thank you so much, Maggie. And, yes, tea and stupid make very comforting companions.

  7. #13 by Balvah on July 18, 2013 - 6:57 pm

    You are so right about the small things. Very well done.

    • #14 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:40 am

      Thank you, Balvah. I appreciate your visit and comment.

  8. #15 by LaTonya M. Baldwin on July 18, 2013 - 7:26 pm

    Maude! This blew me over. Solid, vivid writing. Emotion and authenticity without beating me over the head with either. Thoroughly enjoyed this. And I live with the Harley, he’s been trying to model appropriate behavior to me for years. Only thing that’s changed is that he’s more mellow about it. 🙂

    • #16 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:43 am

      Ahaha! Maude, indeed. Love it. And how wonderful that you have your own Harley, and that in spite of his best efforts, you’re still you! Thank you so much for this thoughtful–and entertaining–comment!

  9. #17 by stankmeaner on July 18, 2013 - 7:45 pm

    Ha, I usually opt for stupid cartoons to help me forget but I completely understand the sentiment. There was not a word out of place in this story, natural and honest and sad, I loved it.

    • #18 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:45 am

      I tend to go for horrible TV movies myself, but they’re not as common as they used to be. Thank you for your lovely comment.

  10. #19 by Björn Rudberg (brudberg) on July 18, 2013 - 9:11 pm

    This is terrific writing.. and getting old poor and lonely is not easy… and missing that miser Harvey .. I can almost hear the banter between them from when he was still there.

    • #20 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:47 am

      Thank you so much, Bjorn. There are so many seniors living in poverty, and way more to come in the not too distant future–interesting times ahead, that’s for sure.

  11. #21 by jannatwrites on July 18, 2013 - 11:53 pm

    I love the line about trip wires (writes the girl who has teared up at Kleenex commercials!) It’s true, you think you’re totally fine, then “BAM”, something opens the heartache. Here’s hoping the stupid cheers her up, rather than bringing on depression because this is what the world has come to.

    • #22 by kallanannie on July 19, 2013 - 3:49 am

      Ha! I hate to admit it, but I can tear up at the cheesiest commercials too (including those Kleenex ones!). As for the character, yes, she’s got a long and lonely road ahead of her. That’s the thing about grief: no matter how much support you have, you have to face the toughest hills alone.

  12. #23 by Gary Robertson on March 20, 2014 - 3:29 am

    Enjoyed your insightful, moving, exceptionally well-written commentary.

    “The Sad Kitten” photo you used is one I took. Thanks for sharing it — much appreciated. As it chanced, the kitten had a short life. It helps to know that — though gone — she is not forgotten.

    Best Regards, Gary Robertson

    “We all have a little sadness inside”
    — Jocelyn Fuller Chrisley

    • #24 by kallanannie on November 2, 2014 - 3:08 am

      Hi Gary, Thank you so much for the kind words, and my apologies for not responding sooner. I abandoned this blog a while ago and went back to blogging under my own name (Kern Windwraith), and I haven’t been back to check in.

      I’m so sad to hear about your kitten. What a lovely little thing she was, and what a beautiful job you did of capturing that kitten sadness–something we don’t very often associate with kittens. It’s what struck me when I first saw the photograph and what prompted me to use it in this post.

      If you ever want me to remove it, please let me know and I’ll do so right away. I’ll set up notifications to forward to my regular email address, so it won’t take me so long to see it.

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