It was the day. The door had been locked and wouldn’t be opened until the following afternoon.
The man sat next to the chauffeur before calling out the destination he and his family desired to go to. While the man and the chauffeur were indulging in, what they considered to be, a fascinating conversation about an article they’d read in the newspaper, the man’s poor wife was trying to end a fight their twin daughters were having. The ‘battle’, consisted of scratching and mild hitting but the violent acts were not contained to just the twins, the man’s eldest daughter was pressing herself into the door in an attempt to not get hurt.
It had been a long hour and the eldest daughter and wife longed to be back at their Town House in Bath, England.
The husband and wife carried the luggage whilst the eldest daughter was faced with a more difficult task, looking after the twins, whom still wanted nothing more than to kill one another. The train had arrived just as the familiar were all standing on the platform. The doors flew open and the public began boarding. When it was the family’s turn, the twins were faced with a nerve-wracking challenge, only they could relate to. The large gap between them was much wider than the others perceived it to be as the pair were just five years old.
The man gave the twins a small push on the back to supposedly encourage them to move, but that tactic was unsuccessful and resulted in him placing his luggage down angrily and carrying the pair into the train. People clogged the narrow aisles of the old-fashioned carriage. Some were moving upstream to get to their assigned seats, which were made of brown leather and partly torn which revealed the foam beneath.
The family had found their seats, by spotting the number engraved on the side, just as the train began moving. A number of minutes had passed and a hostess walked up the aisle. The trolly she was pushing consisted of many sweet treats. The lemon sherbets caught the eldest daughter's eye but the same couldn’t be said for the twins next to her, whom craved the Fig Rolls on clear display. As the trolly progressed closer, more could be seen; Rhubarb and custard sweets followed by Pear Drops were above the assortment of biscuits; Pink Waffles, Hobnobs, and mint cream layered biscuits.
The wife smiled at the children whom were all gawping at something on the gold-framed trolly while her husband was reading the newspaper. He was completely absorbed in his own world until he would occasionally read out a line he found interesting and then would spend time talking about it. The wife gave the hostess ten shillings and the children tucked into their sweats. A conductor then came over to the peaceful family. “Tickets please” he ordered. The husband slightly started, handed the conductor the tickets. He was handed them back moments later. “Thank you, Mr. Floyd”.
They were the Floyd family. The eldest daughter was Scarlett Floyd. The twins were Scarlett’s half-sisters, they all shared a father. The train came to a stop and uprose a female voice. “Welcome to Circus Noir & Rouge!”. A soft silver light rested over the infinite amount of deep-colored tents. The delighted people disembarked the train and began racing over to the Circus, the Floyd family among them. As the family approached closer to the Circus, the pleasant aroma of caramel and fireworks became stronger.
Despite the pearly moonlight haunting the streaky smoke sky, one could tell the soft and lushest green grass contrasted beautifully with the gold, the red and black theme of the Circus. Dazzling lights burst from all directions. Ten different food stalls were connected by a wall that had anthropomorphic animals spray-painted on. The family traveled around gradually before parting ways. The twins were occupied by the trampolines (which the father had to supervise) while the mother and Scarlett were on the Ferris wheel. When the family met back up in the middle, the mother did not hesitate to lecture her husband on why he should not have given the twins toffee apples and candy floss.
Just as she was about to further her point, there was the sound of china smashing. Everyone snapped around to see an old lady staring at a smashed teacup. “Oh goodness,” the old lady cried. “Ma’am, is this your teacup? Scarlett asked gently. “Yes, I just bought it!”. When the old lady stood back up from her crouching state and looked up at the family, a slight smirk rose like goosebumps across her crinkled lips. “I don’t have any more money” she then exclaimed. “Well, not to worry” Scarlett’s mother spoke up abruptly, catching the lady’s attention quickly. “We’ll buy you another one”. “Why thank you, my dear”.
Scarlett was purely perplexed. The lady’s smirk caught her off guard as it offered a sense of evil. The twins, energetic from their sugar rush, followed the adults. The old lady gave a witch-like grin as she watched a new teacup, plain white with a gold ring wrapped around the rim, being purchased. She then bent down again. She gave a small wave of her hand causing all the pieces of china to move together to form a teacup that didn’t have a single scratch on it. She put the fixed teacup in her brown bag and waited to receive the new one. Scarlett witnessed something she was convinced she had just imagined.
“Here you are,” said the mother, handing the old lady a new teacup. The old lady did not utter a thank you and instead, said something else. “Tell you what, to show you how appreciative I am, why don’t you join me for a little tea party, tomorrow?”. The family members contemplated between each other before reaching a conclusion Scarlett didn’t agree with. “We’d love to”.
The Floyd’s arrived at the hotel after yet another unpleasant journey, for the females. The twins were having their usual car battle that consisted of nothing but pure intention to injure. Scarlett found the picturesque view of the moon hovering a soothing distraction from the almost unbearable fights the twins exchanged. The family walked up to the reception and checked in before clambering up four flights of stairs that were significantly close together. The hotel room smelt heavily of pungent lavender with fresh towels and bedsheets.
Sitting in the corner of a desk was a few teacups with a kettle, tea, coffee, and packets of milk and sugar on an ornate tray. “Darling, would you be so good as to make me a cup of tea, please?”. The mother asked Scarlett. Scarlett sighed, according to her father, she’d never been able to make a cup of tea ‘properly’, so rarely ever did. With great loathing, she dragged herself over to the kettle. She seized the kettle by the handle and filled it with water before allowing it to boil. When the kettle let out a high pitch noise, that was unpleasant to the ear, Scarlett poured the scolding liquid into the teapot before infusing it with tea leaves that colored the water apple red. After a couple of moments, Scarlett poured the tea into a china teacup and allowed gelid milk and softly ground sugar to cascade into the mixture of water and leaves. The contents of the cup were finished with a final stir and presented. Her mother moved her glasses down the bridge of her nose to inspect, Scarlett’s fingers burning in the process.
Once the mother had finished her analysis, she took a sip which earned a contorted face of disapproval. She tipped the tea into the sink and shook her head.
“Come on all, time to get some rest” then came the father’s voice as he walked into the room whilst undoing his tie. “Oh, uhh, where are the twins?’ The mother suddenly asked with concern. “I believe they’re outside playing with a cat they found. Anyway, you’re the mother, you should know where they are at all times, it’s your job” the father replied through a muffled voice of toothpaste. When Scarlett and the mother burst through the door and into the chilly corridor, they confronted the twins, whom were true, playing with a cat, a ginger one with sparkly green eyes. “We’re going to a tea party tomorrow and you pair need your sleep,” the mother said sternly. “Tea party?” One of the blonde twins questioned. “Yes”. The twins looked at each other and smiled before they ran into the hotel room and jumped on one of the beds with exhilaration.
While everyone was excited to go to this tea party, Scarlett was very reluctant as she had watched the hostess of the party fix a teacup with one movement of her hand. Everyone was tucked in and cosy. The twins wouldn’t hush their mutters of joyfulness, the parents kept sniping at each other and Scarlett was conjuring a reasonable excuse not to go to the tea party in her head.
Walking up to a sharp light in her eyes was her idea of hell. Scarlett attempted to cover her eyes but turning off one sensory source didn’t automatically eliminate the others, unfortunately. The twins were both bouncing maniacally on her bed and chanting for her to get up. Eventually, with great difficulty, she pulled herself out of bed. The mother was fretting around to get the twins dressed, but they were in the mindset of refusing to do anything that might’ve been even remotely helpful. “Look outside, it’s getting dark” the mother complained. “Good heavens, you’re right” then breathed the father. Scarlett raised her hand to look at her watch but the hands had vanished and in replacement, the numbers ‘8:30’ were there instead.
She was perplexed, she had woken up ten minutes ago, in what she thought was the morning?.
It's that old lady” she muttered to herself with realization. Her reluctance to go to the tea party was even stronger now, but there was no changing her parent's minds. They began getting ready and the twins were suddenly cooperative. “I think we ought to get going to this tea party” came the father. Scarlett, with unease, got ready for the day and began following behind her family. She struggled, as did the twins, to keep up the adult's surprisingly fast pace. The family had long left the hotel and were traveling across a large tender green hill. “How do you know where you are going?” She asked the parents. Scarlett’s father pulled out a map from his pocket that was not there before. He unraveled it and as he did, more appeared on the map. When the family had reached the end of the forest, the map in the father's hand became disadvantageous and he threw it carelessly onto the ground.
He led the way until they had reached a lake they had to cross by conscientiously stepping on each stone encased in a slippery moss-colored substance to get to the other side. Scarlett, the entire journey, was contemplating on going back to the hotel but by the time she’d made her mind up, it was too late. The family was face-to-face with a small stone cottage in the middle of what they initially thought was a vacant tree paradise. The stone cottage was surrounded by a garden populated with gnomes of all different shapes and sizes and the windows were layered in condensation. Scarlett had slight sympathy for the gnomes which had been smashed due to a few roof tiles sliding off.
Trepidation was rising rapidly inside Scarlett as the door edged closer. The father took pleasure in giving the door a firm, manly knock. After a few seconds of anticipation, the lady from the circus opened the door and greeted the family with another witch-like smirk. “Come on in, if been waiting ever so patiently,” the old lady says in an evil sort of tone that only Scarlett had detected as she was last to walk in the house and reluctance was still burning inside.
The cottage was exactly how Scarlett had predicted. Wooden bookcases crowded with antiques and cookbooks with many of the pages scattered across the chipped stone floor. The old lady urged the family to sit down at her brown wooden table whilst she made a large pot of tea. Scarlett couldn’t help but notice every teapot and cup the lady owned had some sort of painting on it, mainly people. She looked over her shoulder to see the lady multiply a plain tea tup into four. She placed the teacups on the table before rushing back over to the teapot and filling it with water before infusing it with ground tea leaves that came in thin bags in the shapes of squares.
She slowly placed the teapot on the table. The teapot had pretty drawings on it. There was a couple dancing in the rain, a jet black cat staring up at the Eiffel Tower and vibrant pillows falling from a cloud onto a white bed. The lady began serving the tea by pouring a reasonable amount in each teacup which let off a soft glow once the warm liquid collided with the china. “Being able to make the perfect cup of tea is a talent in its self” the father commented. “Indeed” the old lady replied almost sternly. “Scarlett seems incapable of making a pot of tea properly” then added the mother. “Oh, I would highly doubt that,” the old lady said, glimpsing at Scarlett who felt extremely demoralized, to say the least. Everyone, aside from Scarlett, had taken a sip from their teacup (the twins spilled most of theirs down them but did take a small sip).
Everything seemed alright, but that didn’t ease Scarlett’s hesitance.
“If you don’t mind my asking, what is your name?” The mother asked the old lady. “Tassmary, Tassmary Grey”. “That is a rather interesting name”. “In case you’re wondering ‘Tasse’ means ‘Cup’ in French. My mother used to collect teacups, so it's no wonder, really”. A number of silent moments had passed and something in the atmosphere didn’t feel right. The teacups let out a more powerful glow and the family began glowing too. Scarlett sat, perplexity and fear conflicting with each other. A dull rumble followed shortly after the mysterious glowing. The teacups were shaking and within moments, the teacups smashed into each other to create one large teacup that was now more suitable for soup.
The twins let out a blinding glow as did the mother and father before they disappeared. Scarlett rushed over to find her family, whom were all printed in the form of a painting on the front of the giant teacup. “So…your mother says you can’t make a proper cup of tea?” Tassmary Grey rhetorically questions. Scarlett remained silent. “I want you to make me the perfect cup of traditional British tea”. A teapot, tea bag, milk, and sugar appeared on the table. “Where is the teacup?. “You’re going to be making it in this one” Tassmary Grey answers, pushing the teacup with Scarlett’s family closer with her index finger. “For every time you get something wrong, part of you will appear on this teacup”.
Scarlett dragged out the time by clarifying the rules over and over again. She eventually poured the water into the cup before seeing her hand fading away to reveal the floor beneath. “Too little water!”. Now, with one hand left, she poured in more water up to Tassmary’s standard. She had already removed the tea bag so proceeded to add some milk, which resulted in her other hand fading away. She’d quickly learned that both her hands were imprinted on the cup. “Too much milk!”. “How do you propose I go about adding the sugar without any hands?”. Tassmary Grey flicked her hand causing the sugar to form into cubes. “Use your teeth. Scarlett bent down and picked up a small cube of sugar with her mouth, feeling positively humiliated. The cube was then dropped but unsuccessfully, resulting in both her feet fading causing her to dramatically fall to the floor with a harsh thump. “No one, so far, has been able to pass this challenge”.
Scarlett tried to pick up another cube but that caused something worse to happen. The contents of the teacup had been spilled all over the table, droplets were plummeting to the floor and landing in splatters. The teacup, shortly after the spill, rolled off the table and smashed across the floor.
Bits of china flew in various directions.
“I suppose you’ll never be getting them back” Tassmary Grey uttered.
“What?” Scarlett muttered almost voiceless.
“If you had made that tea properly, you’d have them back by now…but the teacup is smashed”.
“So, they’re gone…forever…?”. Scarlett’s voice broke as she spoke.
“Correct, and you’re going to look lovely on my teapot. You are my granddaughter after all”.
“But…both my grandmothers are dead…”