tea anyone?
Home sweet home Latest site info Poetic stuff Serious stuff Funny stuff Topical stuff Alternative stuff Shakespearian stuff Musical stuff
  click here for a "printer friendly" version

The Summer of Pink Tea
by KJ Hannah Greenberg



Nicholas’s finger traced the list that cataloged his possessions. Mostly, his worldly goods were to be sold, given to the poor, or junked at the curb. Ross, Russell, and Jessa’s effects, too, were to be triaged - Nicholas’ new residence would be half of the size of his present one. While it was lovely that his children had grown, it was less so that they still stowed their jumble in his cottage. Besides, they had asked him to deal with their discards since they had no more interest in their childhood bits and bobs than in his antiques.


So, one ratty teddy bear or nearly-new set of Brio trains at a time, Nicholas made piles for doctors’ offices and orphanages. Hospitals had rules against receiving used objects, but pediatricians, who were often overburdened by medical school debts, taxes, staff salaries, and insurance premiums, and children’s homes, which were overburdened, in general, welcomed castoff toys. Similarly, boxes of wee trousers and of tiny pullovers were directed to a local fund for unwed mothers (not all new parents can afford baby minding, hence, not all new parents can afford to work.)


What’s more, the local chapter of the Veterans’ League was the designee for: Nancy’s wedding dress, their large, maple bedroom set, and some nicely framed mirrors. Nicholas valued supporting the men and women who safeguarded the world. He found homes for his old vinyls and newer snow shovels, to boot.


Yet, when the elder opened the closet housing the many-hued cartons of tea, he felt as though his heart was fleeing his chest. Nicholas sat down on a kitchen table chair.


Ross had always insisted on drinking carob; it mimicked Nicholas’ coffee. Russell had loved peppermint; he believed that those leaves could energize him without ill-effect. Jessa had liked a new-fangled vanilla/chamomile blend. Nancy, though, had spent eras sipping hibiscus.


One summer, in comraderie with his wife, who was trying to reverse high blood pressure and to keep various elements of her metabolic disorder at bay, Nicholas had tried that pink stuff. It was neither tasty nor aromatic.


Despite that tea’s missing zing, he had brought thermoses of it, daily, to the hospital after Nancy had had her stroke. In those quiet rooms, Nicholas silently questioned why he toted that liquid; his wife was fed by a tube and he still lacked fondness for that stuff.


All of the children stayed lived at home for a few years following Nancy’s death. Ross took a job at a local garage (he waited until he considered Nicholas “settled” before enlisting in a neighboring city’s police force.) Russell enrolled in MIT-proctored online courses. Afterwards, he moved to Boston to pursue graduate studies. Jessa finished her senior year of high school, toured Europe with friends, and then opened a poster boutique in the family’s basement. A decade later, she met and married Gordon, a framer. The two bought a storefront in a nearby, upscale town and ran their business there.


Nicholas continued his work in IT. He was twenty years shy of retirement when his beloved passed on. Colleagues, his mother, his sisters, and his children tried to encourage him to date. Nicholas graciously begged off. He was content coming home to his cats, his television, and his La-Z-Boy.


Nonetheless, he mollified his dear one by buying fashionable eyeglasses, repainting the front of his house, and joining an early morning mall walkers group. Nicholas was bewildered by his family’s fuss.


Rather than fade, though, that “fuss” morphed. As Nicholas got closer to leaving his job, his family sent him advertisements through both his tactic and electronic mail slots. His big sis thought he ought to move to Florida. His younger sis thought Arizona would be suitable. His mom, an octogenarian, invited him to move in with her.


The kids, correspondingly, offered up ideas. Jessa suggested that he take a trip around the world. Russell suggested that he volunteer on an organic farm in California. Ross wanted Nicholas to write a column on the best beer in North America. That son volunteered to quit his job in order to chauffer his dad around Canada and the USA —Nicholas merely had to pay for all of their motel stays and meals. Ross’ savings would cover Ross’s toiletries and he’d split the cost of gas and tolls with his dad.


All things considered, for a while, Nicholas remained home. He: became a grandfather, lost more hair, and witnessed two generations of cats expire. His final kitty lived to nineteen. Eventually, as well, the bands of squirrels, which had stolen seed from the front yard’s feeder, likewise departed; the aging tree, which had been holding the miniature table, had been felled by lightening.


Nicholas moved from the kitchen to the bedroom to fold Nancy’s skirts. A homeless shelter had accepted those precious garments and was even enthusiastic about accepting the family’s extra cutlery. Nicholas shook his head. Dismantling life required mindfulness.


During a break, which he spent on his tattered recliner, Nicholas glanced over up a pensioner village’s brochure. Construction was to be completed in eighteen months. In the interim, he’d travel among children, sisters, and parent. The limited belongings, which he had elected to keep, would be put into storage. He had already purchased his senior discount, super-duper, bus ticket.


A few weeks thereafter, when his son-in-law had carried away the last of Nicholas’ personal effects, Nicholas took a final stroll with the mall walkers. As he paced the third floor, stopping twice at water fountains, he noticed that a new health food store was opening.


On one side of its door, the window featured all manner of seaweed. On the other side, the window featured herbal teas. There was carob. There was peppermint. There was vanilla chai. There were no packets, however of Hawaiian Hibiscus. Nicholas wondered how folks could manage without pink tea.




Rate this story.

Copyright is reserved by the author. Please do not reproduce any part of this article without consent.


© Winamop 2023