A Cup Of Tea
I stared, transfixed, as my favourite china cup descended floor-ward at a velocity negating all possibility of the delicate crockery surviving. What a tragic waste, full to the brim with hot tea as well. I saw everything in glaring slow motion; The cup beginning it's descent, slowly gaining speed. The tea seeming to reach up and spread out as it was left behind by the cup it had been held in, droplets of scalding liquid spinning through the air, steaming as they fell. The cup beginning a slow spin around its handle. Finally, after what could have been seconds or minutes or hours the cup made fatal contact with the ground. Upon impact the cup, against all logic, flexed, bending further than brittle china should have allowed. At first it looked like it might bounce back unscathed, but no such luck. The cup rose from the floor, rim rippling from the impact, and shattered in mid air, tea stained china shards and fine white dust flying in all directions.
Time, it seemed, deemed this the perfect moment to revert to normal operations. My string of foul curses and the falsetto tinkling of the expensive china, followed swiftly by the slosh of tea on the wood floor, all happened at a suddenly respectable tempo.
'What is it?!' Aaron came stumbling out of the kitchen wearing his customary flowery apron and smelling strongly of dough and fresh milk. My cursing, it seemed, had given him quite a fright. Probably hadn't heard the cup breaking, just me, shrieking bloody Mary at the top of my lungs.
'My bloody cup, Aaron, my favourite bloody tea cup.' I moaned as I crouched to pick up the handle, the largest single piece left.
He sounded rather deflated. I glanced back at him, and froze staring hard.
'Now Aaron, the rolling pin I can understand, but a bread knife? Really?' I tried for a smile and watched as bright scarlet begin to colour his usually pail cheeks, for there he stood, clutching the rolling pin and a bread knife in his white knuckled flour covered hands.
'But- but I thought…' He caught sight of my grin and blushed properly,
'Never mind!' He stalked back into the kitchen in a whirl of embarrassment. I followed, only slightly worried, and vaguely wondering where we kept the broom. The kitchen smelled even more wonderful than Aaron did; Fresh bread, thyme and sage, roasting chicken, potatoes… I was blessed to live with such a cook. Aaron had always been an exquisite maker of all things, whether that be art, stories, small mechanical wonders that only he seemed to understand, and food. Especially food, ever since we where young, but the tiny kitchen in our old flat in London had hardly the space and scope for his skill. It had been my idea to move to Wales, big house, big kitchen, quiet and safe… A place to mend.
I picked an apple out of the fruit bowl on the table and coming close up behind him, I bit into it, loud enough to make him jump and spin to face me,
'You'll ruin your appetite.' He chided softly, still rosy cheeked and flustered, he turned away to continue rolling out his pastry.
'For your food? Never.' I jumped up and sat on the counter beside him, close enough to breath in his smell, under all the flour and herbs, his sweet and fresh and yellow smell, like a field of corn on a breezy summers day.
'But really, a bread knife?' I grinned and elbowed him gently, 'You hear me swearing and your first thought is to grab a bread knife?'
'Shut up.' He was scowling now, the pink rising once again.
'Seriously, any other knife and I could have got you but, a bread knife?' I picked up the very one he had come running from the kitchen with and flexed the thin serrated blade with my hand.
'Look here, it's flimsy as shit.'
'I said shut up!' But his words were dulled, a smile flickering on his lips,
'I mean, how much damage could a bread knife possibly do?' I flicked the flat edge across his arm. Once. Twice… Viper fast he whipped the thing from my hand and angled it at my crotch,
'You wonna find out?' It was his turn to smirk triumphantly as I hastily bum shuffled backwards and hopped down from the table holding up my hands in mock surrender, shaking my head.
'Nope. Nope, point taken.'
He turned back to his pastry, but kept his smile.
I wondered through the open doorway over to the large cupboard-under-the-stars and pulled out the broom and some newspaper, my own smile melting off my features as I set about cleaning up the remains of my favourite china cup. God-dammit I missed the bloody thing already.
'I'll get you another, Michael' Aaron was leaning in the doorway of the kitchen once more, hands stuffed into the large front pouch of his apron.
'That's the third one you've broken so far, honestly if your so attached to the things why not try and take a little more care of them?' I stood up, walked over to him and rested my chin on the broom handle, looking at him with a frank smile.
'Cause I'm saving all my care for you, silly.'