Tea Time Fiction - writercize #72

If there is one daily ritual that I never go without, it's brewing a nice cup of tea - several times a day.  I brew one first thing in the morning, one when I get bored, one when I sit at the computer, when I read, when I write, before I turn on the TV.  I love tea.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good caffe latte as much as the next sleep-deprived writing-addicted over-scheduled mom, but I leave my coffee preparation to the experts.  Experts and playgroup friends.  One important life lesson I've learned from playgroups - no matter how much you lack confidence in your coffee brewing abilities, a smidge of creamer will cause any guest to lick her lips and reach for more.  Honest to goodness truth.

That said, home alone, I'm faithful to my tea.  Which brings me to today's writercize.

writing exercise:  Write a fictional vignette inspired by tea.  Note you are not limited to a cup of tea; you may choose to base the story on a tea plantation or in a tea house, or wherever your mind may take you!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about ... well, I can't think of a summary that won't give too much away, so just click more and read it!  ;)  Before or after you write your own.
writercizer sample response:

"Have a seat on the couch, darling.  I'll be out in a jiffy, just brewing a pot.  Do make yourself at home," Mrs. Grugnon called from the kitchenette.

"Ok," Jane furrowed her brow a tad before taking a seat on the flowery recliner and resting her feet on a horrendous orange tweed ottoman.  She blinked a time or two, shook her head and looked around her just to be sure.  She had called for a doctor's appointment, but felt sure she had taken a wrong turn and was visiting her Great Aunt Ida instead.

As she panned the room, Jane did see shelves piled high with books and a white-washed desk in the corner with a laptop sucking in energy from the power cord.  There was a stack of Psychiatry Today magazines on the coffee table surrounded by five Great Aunt Ida-reminiscent floral couches and chairs constructed during at least four different decades (the two most recent decades not among them).  

Yes, the books and magazines indicated this was a psychiatrist's office.  Jane hadn't ever been to a psychiatrist before; she'd just seen them in movies and TV, so she'd imagined leather and framed diplomas and cold metal tables, something along the lines of Dr. Melfi from The Sopranos.  This was a far cry from her expectation, and though she was a bit thrown off, she had to admit she was glad.

The lemon scent of the tea wafted into the room and Jane relaxed into the couch, waiting for Mrs. Grugnon (she said on the phone Dr. was too stuffy, but first names somehow made the client relationship too personal, so Mrs. would be just fine, please and thank you, despite the fact she'd addressed Jane as dear, darling and love at least a dozen times when they'd set up the appointment) to come out with the tea.

"Ah, here we are dear.  Do you take cream or sugar?  I'll just put a bit of both out here, you can prepare it as you wish," Mrs. Grugnon said as she set the tray with the pot of tea and cups down on the coffee table.  

Jane thanked her and poured a healthy dollop of cream into the bottom of the cup before covering it with her tea.  She watched as the black of the tea swirled and danced with the white of the cream until they settled into a monochrome tawny color.  

The swirling and scent relaxed her and she felt as though Mrs. Grugnon really were her Great Aunt Ida, as though she'd known her all her life and was sitting down for a fine cup of conversation in the waning hours of the afternoon.

"Now then, shall we begin?  You mentioned over the phone that it was the loneliness that encouraged you to make the call, dear.  What sort of loneliness is that?" Mrs. Grugnon asked.  Her tone was not pushy or demanding or gruff as Jane imagined a psychiatrist may sound.  Instead her voice floated in the air like a butterfly suspended between them, light and airy and somehow beautiful and delicate.

Jane took a deep sip of her tea, stared into Mrs. Grugnon's eyes, sighed straight to her core and began to talk.  She talked about being surrounded by family as a child, cousins and aunts and uncles, and family gatherings with endless activities and conversations.  She told Mrs. Grugnon how she was always quieter than the rest of the clan, and felt a little like an outsider, but never excluded.  She did have some trouble connecting with her cousins; she preferred to sit and think while they chased frogs and played hopscotch and climbed trees, but there was never any ill will or hurt feelings.  She just felt closer to her thoughts and to the elderly members of the family.  

As the other kids ran off on adventures, Jane would eventually wander inside and seek a grandparent or older aunt to share a cup of tea and a game of Dominoes or cards.  Inside with an elderly companion, her tea and a game, there was no limit to her conversation.  She never felt like an outsider during those hours; she never was lonely.  She just felt loved and whole.  The problem was, she never did quite figure out how to connect with her peers, and four months ago the last of her grandma's generation had passed.  Even though she was in her early forties now, Jane felt like that kid who was a little out of place when she tried to converse with her cousins or other adults her age, even those her parents' age, so she hadn't experienced a real conversation in a long time.  She could feel the loneliness seeping in through her pores, and she wasn't sure how to handle it.  It felt good to get it out, and Jane was glad she came.  As she looked at Mrs. Grugnon, she could see some faint liver spots on her hands and extended crow's feet near her eyes and smiled.  Even though she was paying for this time, it made her feel a little like home.

"Mm-hmm.  Well, that's all well and good dear.  I think we can work on this and make some progress.  Listen, have you thought about a cat?  Wonderful companions, cats are.  They won't take tea with you and are hardly worth the trouble of pulling out card games, but perhaps a cat in your lap next to a saucer of milk with a bit of tea for you and a nice round of solitaire will do you some good.  Yes, no pharmaceutical prescription for you this week.  Get out, buy yourself a nice mature kitty and see me again next week," Mrs. Grugnon said.

Jane rose and walked out the door with a smile.  Next stop, allergist.  For she was determined to follow her doctor's orders, and she just couldn't let a little (ok, admittedly pretty major) cat allergy get in the way of her recovery from loneliness, now could she?  She was determined to feel whole again, whatever it might take.


  1. I just drank some chai tea. Great idea for a writing exercise.

    I just found you blog! As a teacher, I look forward to trying some of these exercises with my students. Thanks!

    -Miss GOP

  2. This is a wonderful and sweet story! You are a very talented writer! My favorite bits -
    sucking in energy from the power cord - a very different way of describing something so mundane.
    as the black of the tea swirled and danced with the white of the cream until they settled into a monochrome tawny color. - brought me right there with Jane as if I was looking through her eyes.
    her voice floated in the air like a butterfly suspended between them, light and airy and somehow beautiful and delicate. - such beautiful and vivid imagery!


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