Tea for One

I make a cup of tea.

I have to heat the water in the microwave because there’s no kettle, but I make a cup of tea. For the casual office worker, throwing a Lipton into seaming water will suffice, but I was raised differently and this just isn’t a cup of tea. It’s Yorkshire tea. Its leaves smell like my past and present, of sunny mornings when I was disgusted by tea and just wanted a biscuit, of Sunday afternoons at my grandparents house, of making tea to take to my mother when she sat in bed at the weekends writing essays to complete her degree.

I make a cup of tea and watch the seconds tick down on the microwave and then stare at the blinking numbers bleating incessantly. It’s time! It’s time. I just stare, taking more than a minute because when this time is up, it’s back to the encapsulation of monotony.

I make a cup of tea and think about Sunday mornings with Sky news and tea and toast, and drinking tea when I don’t feel well, and sharing tea with my aunt and uncle on a weekday morning when I made a brief visit. It was predictably grey, watery sun blinking in and, despite being July, nowhere near as warm as home. I carried a jacket with me, and appreciated the warm cup of tea.

I make a cup of tea and I carefully hold the tea bag, lowering it gently into the water. I lift the dry corner, gently, and swirl around the water. I picked a black mug to use this morning, so I don’t know the tea’s strength by look alone. Carefully, I pour in a splash of cream – just enough to make the water blossom and glow a warm brown. Now it’s time to take a spoon. I immerse the tea bag into the water and stir. And stir. I am mesmerized by the motion, the caramel-color glow. I lift out the tea bag – no leaves and strainer here – and balance it on the spoon. It’s too hot to just hold and carry, and I toss the bloated square into the recesses of the garbage bag. I picked out the scented ones, and their industrially pleasant odor swells until the lid is closed. I turn my back to the garbage can, to the rest of the office. Here, it’s quiet, almost, the swish of the dishwasher reminding me that I will have to clean up later.

But for now, I made a cup of tea. I wrap my hands around the mug and close my eyes. I take a sip. For now, I am somewhere else, in an embrace. For now, time has paused.

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