In His Teacup

PHOTO by Debby Hudson on

FLASH Fiction Challenge 100 – Day 12

Kevin takes another sip of his jasmine tea as he waits for Mike to show up for their lunch date at Tranquil-a-Tea.

They had been dating for only four months, but Kevin is thinking he should end things. He loves Mike, but he feels something might be missing. He had been married once. A woman. It took him three years to realize he was gay and the divorce was a rancorous, tumultuous time for both him and Marilyn.

Kevin checks his phone. He’s running late. Mike is a reader for one of the bigger publishing houses in NYC. Sometimes, when he began reading a manuscript that captured his imagination, that resonated with him, he lost all track of time. It’s happened before.

He raises his cup and takes another sip. He hears something slide within the delicate china cup. It comes to a stop at his pursed lips. He lowers the cup but the object slides back into the tea.

‘Well, this is unacceptable! How could they serve tea in such a sloppy, unhygienic manner as this?’ Kevin wonders.

He raises his hand to attract the attention of a waiter, but the waiter doesn’t see him and returns to the kitchen.

Kevin attempts to fish the object out with his spoon. He circles the spoon one time along the bottom, senses it bumps against the lip of the spoon, then deftly pulls it to the surface. His eyes go wide. There, in the center of his spoon, sitting in a little pool of jasmine tea sits a gold wedding band.

Kevin feels a surge of emotions that surprises him. Why he cannot say. He sits back in his chair. The tea in the spoon spills onto his lap. He wipes it away absently with his other hand. He sets the spoon and ring down. Picks the ring up, dries it as best he can with his cloth napkin. It’s a beautiful ring and Kevin is afraid he will begin crying in the middle of the tearoom. He looks around. There is only one other couple and they are on the far side of the room, sitting next to the curtained window.

… in a little pool of jasmine tea sits a gold wedding band.

Kevin reviews the talking points he had planned for his possible break-up today. As he reviews each one, however, he finds they no longer ring true for him. He picks up the gold band again, studies it. He sees that Mike has inscribed the inner surface of the ring, how had he missed that?

‘K.S. to the love of my life, yesterday, today, & tomorrow. M.B.’

Kevin is surprised the jeweler was able to fit the lengthy inscription in the ring. Again, Kevin blinks back tears.

His phone beeps.

It’s a message from Mike’s sister.

‘She never texts me,’ Kevin thinks. He suddenly is feeling dizzy and nauseous. Without thinking, he automatically slips the ring on his left ring finger before opening the text message from Karen.

“Kevin, sorry, but you need to come to St. Luke’s ASAP. Mike had a heart attack a few hours ago. Please hurry. Karen.”

‘Oh damn! Is he okay?’

He rises from his chair, only to collapse back down. The dizziness was worse now. He forces himself to take several deep, in-and-out, belly breaths. Closes his eyes, does what he can to release the worry and anxiety that crashed into his brain with the conflicting feelings from the ring and the awful text message.

He pulls his wallet, drops a twenty on the table, and gets back to his feet.

So far so good.

He blinks back a tear.

‘No time for that now Kev. You need to get to St. Lukes!’

Kevin makes it to the door. As he takes his shaky steps down the three wooden steps, he’s already forgotten about breaking up with Mike. If this was a proposal, he thinks, as he brings his ringed finger to his face, he will say yes he decides. He sees that the pain in his last divorce was what scared him most and that was only because he had been living a lie.

‘Please, don’t die on me, Mike.’


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