Green Tea and Memories
I remember sitting in Helen Corning's living-room quietly, just studying the different aspects of it. There were so many things to take in, to look at with immersive interest, and to simply wonder about. The living-room was not a big one--it was a good medium-sized one that fit in nicely with the rest of the Victorian home's decor. The sofa that I was currently reposing in had a floral motif to it. Woven bespeckled leaves spiralled and swirled this way and that with dots along their bold outlined borders. It was almost symbolic of leaves been blown in the way, floating with grace and poise. Above the sofa was a rectangular mirror that had an ornate golden brown-colored molding. At the center of the mirror was a slightly hazy if not smoky area on the glass. I wondered if that had been a defect in the glass or whether it had gotten that particular way simply by getting older by the year.
Smoke and mirrors...that was the irrestible connection that my mind made out from the smoky panel of glass. It quickly led me to another thought, involving the figment of my imagination. Through the looking-glass--I suddenly had the suicidal urge to jump up and hurtle myself through the mirror to my own Wonderland full of delights...and horrors. Just as that Wonderland would be inspired by my dreams, so would my nightmares be magnified to a terrible level of realism. I withhold myself as I simply looking at the mirror at myself.
Who are you, I thought? And why are you here? Who is this person full of dreams of being a writer, of writing what he loves, of helping people with their problems, of being an amateur sleuth of sorts just like...
I woke up from the daze and glanced around the room. I was still alone but I had fallen into some subconscious pit of doubts. It was over now, and thank God for that. What was I doing here? Was this just another episode of my figmented Wonderland? I looked up again at the mirror and saw its smoky section again. Smoke and mirrors. It was interesting that I should have thought of that--it had nothing to do with what I was doing now. Well, at least, maybe it didn't. A poetic person might have said that my quest for answers began first by clearing the air--to clear the smoke away, to be more exact. Shaking my head out of this ridiculous analogy, I moved on from the sofa and the antiquited mirror to the rest of the living-room.
As I observed, I soon realized that the sofa and the mirror were placed on the left wall of the room with a small modest cherry-colored coffee table set before it. On it was a container full of wooden drink-coasters, a small glass vase filled with potpourri--it smelled wonderfully of dried berries and sweet lemongrass--and about two novels for leisure reading. Curious about the selection of reading material, I browsed through the two novels, scanning through them as fast as I could so that I could continue to see the rest of the things in the living-room. Discovering that the two novels were nothing but cheap paperback romances, I placed them back on the coffee table. As I was doing so, my ears noticed a ticking noise in the room. It came from the end of the room where I was.
On that one end of the living-room was a stone fireplace for those cold wintry nights. There was a small assortment of photographs placed across the marble mantelpiece. But the thing, however, that grasped my utmost attention and wonder was a clock. Just a simple ordinary clock.
Well, perhaps it wasn't that simple of a clock--or that ordinary, for that matter. It was a wooden box with a clock-face on the front. By the looks of the face, it was yellowed and old. There were several other things about it as well. The way the Roman numerals on the clock-face were crafted and etched into place--the way the mechanism seemed to be from another period of time. A time where things were much simpler as they should have been. Just how old was this clock? I thought. I began to wonder as well. It was then that I realized that neither the minute-hand nor the hour-hand were moving. They sat perfectly still as if time had ordained them to stop counting the seconds. The ticking sound that I had heard originated from a more modern circular clock hanging above the old one on the mantelpiece.
So the old clock was just a decoration on the mantelpiece. Amused by this find, I found myself scrutinizing it more closely than I had done before. Why did I have this feeling that the clock looked familiar to me? But even that didn't quite fully describe the strange feeling--it wasn't so much as it looking familiar but more of it looking like something that I read being described to me in a story. I was just about to get up and inspect it at detail when the French doors, leading out into the house's main hallway, were opened.
Helen Corning sauntered in bearing a silver tea-tray with white china cups, a little jar fill of sugar cubes, a little tray with a pile of shortbread neatly arranged, and hot steaming tea in a glass teapot placed upon the tray. She placed the tea-tray on the cherry-colored coffee table before speaking.
"I thought I might as well serve something. It might make us a bit more comfortable--and besides, I could use a good cup of tea now anyways."
I thanked my hostess but she simply brushed off my thanks with a mere tilt of the head, making her look more in a pensive mood. She lifted the glass lid off the glass teapot and steam rushed up in swirls and eddies.
Just like the sofa, I thought as I took a half a second's glance at the motif pattern.
As the steam rose up from the very dark green colored liquid, the smell of rich green tea met my nostrils. It mixed with the fragrance of the potpourri causing it to blend into a sweet smelling ambrosia. I appreciated that she had taken the time to prepare this just for me. Beneath that rough exterior was a kind soul that had seen both good times and bad.
"I just got some excellent green tea from a local farmer's market." She picked up one of the two white china cups. "Do you take sugar?"
I nodded my assent and Helen Corning then picked up a small silvery sugar-tongs with her other hand and placed two sugar-cubes in my cup. She then poured the dark green liquid into the cup before offering it to me on a little circular tray to hold my tea-cup. Touched by her excellent attempt at hospitality, I took a sip and immediately savoured the hint of mint infuse in the green tea. It was warm, delicious, sweet, and calming.
"This is delicious," I commented after another sip. Helen Corning sat in a red armchair on the other side of the coffee table. She eyed me and grinned from ear to ear. With a small spoon, she stirred her tea to mix in the one sugar-cube that she had placed in it herself. The tiny spoon tinkled against the china exterior of the tea-cup. When she was done, she placed it on the tiny circular tray and took a sip of the tea herself. With an appreciative sigh, she was comfortable now with my presence.
"I'm glad that you like it--I felt that I had to offer something since, well, I don't exactly get a lot of guests coming here." At that moment I could detect a tinge of sadness in her voice. My heart felt saddened at the thought that of her loneliness. I felt it to my duty to make sure that me being a guest would enliven her spirits.
The room grew silence as both os us sat there, at a lose for words. Occasionally there were would be the tinkling sound of a sound stirring in tea-cups and of munching down on the flavorful baked shortbread. Neither one of us knew where to begin our conversation. It felt as if time was stalling, just waiting for us to begin and growing impatient with each passing second that we didn't. I didn't want to rush into the conversing just yet so I looked around the room once more. When I was ready to talk, I looked up and noticed that Helen Corning's attention was fixed upon the photographs placed accordingly acorss the fireplace mantelpiece.
That could be a good starting point, I strategized.