Tea

He approached the fire cautiously, homemade spear outstretched. You never knew who you might come across in the bombed out streets. “Who’s there?” he called.

The bony figure was hunched over the dancing yellow flames suddenly unfolded itself, straightening up into the shape of a woman who turned to face him. “Tea?” she offered.

. . . . . . . .

“I thought it was the end.”

“Must have been quite embarrassing to realize your mistake,” she replied. They sat on opposite sides of the fire. She stirred sugar into her cup while he stared blankly into the fire.

“We all did,” he said. “Apocalypse. That’s what everyone said.”

“Frightfully overused word.” She took a careful sip and sighted contentedly. “Not a very helpful one either.”

“Not like it matters,” he grunted. “Nothing matters now. Everything’s gone.”

She shrugged. “You’re not gone. More importantly, I’m not gone. Though the tea soon will be, so you better drink some before I finish off the whole pot.”

His gaze drifted to the cast iron pot. “What’s the point?”

“Same as it was before, I imagine.”

Slowly, dully, he poured steaming liquid into his cup. He smelled chamomile, mint, orange blossoms, lemon grass. He breathed in, then out. He breathed.

* * *

Story by Gregory M. Fox