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Coming of Age Fiction Drama

                                                  Spilled Tea     

      As Cassie brewed the cup of tea she reflected on how the comfort and peace of her current retired life at “the Shore” contrasted with her past life. The feeling of the hot liquid entering her throat brought back the many instances of spilled tea that, for many years, had stopped her from enjoying the destiny to which she felt entitled and richly deserved.

     While she sipped the soothing brown hot brew in her cup, Cassie’s memory flashed back to her earliest years growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in a big city. Snapping back to one of her earliest reflections, the now middle-aged woman saw the little girl of her past sitting at the ancient table in her grandma's rundown second floor tenement kitchen as she and her relatives celebrated some occasion, the nature of which years of slow aging had erased from her brain. 

      Cassie did remember, however, that she had brushed against a cup of hot tea in the darkened kitchen. Whether from a burst of Cassie’s youthful energy, gladness or surprise, the jolt from the little girl had caused the cup’s scalding contents to spill all over her lap and down her legs. Horrified by the bright red patches on her skin and the little girl’s piercing screams from what later the doctors would describe as second and third degree burns, her mom and dad had rushed her to the local hospital.

      Luckily, Cassie had survived that tea-spilling incident with a few minor physical scars and almost no mental trauma.  Not so for incidents of “spilled tea” in her later life.

     Post-teen years saw her navigate her way through the hardscrabble existence of growing up in a large city low-income-housing apartment with hard cement floors and equally hard attitudes. The few happy adventures at home and her challenging studies at the local parochial school, for a time, brought reasonable happiness to Cassie’s dull life. However, every day she faced stares as cold as the apartment’s cement floor, as well as cruelty masquerading as discipline, from her father. For too long, the spilled tea of lower working class life in a large city had robbed the already mentally-challenged man of the capacity to calmly and responsibly raise a family and preserve a marriage. The only comfort in his meaningless life and spiraling mental deterioration often came in the bottoms of many bottles of alcoholic beverages.

      For Cassie, teenage years, which should have brought times of carefree fun and joy, brought with them only sorrow and concern along with many responsibilities of adulthood brought on too fast. Also, as the years peeled away, her father’s mental torture increased and, with it, confronting his demons brought more physical standoffs between her dad and a mom trying desperately trying to keep a family together by playing duo roles. Eventually the domestic battles became too numerous for their marriage to survive. 

      During her parents’ separation and finalization of their divorce, living with her mother’s sister provided temporary escape for Cassie. It yielded very little relief from what seemed like unrelenting sadness and occasional confrontations with her brain-damaged father. During one particularly terrifying incident, she dodged a near miss as he swerved with his junk automobile trying to make contact with her on a crowded street corner as she walked home from school with her cousins. Luckily, the Long Arm of the Law came to her rescue and what could have resulted in tragedy ended with the near arrest of her father and a stern lecture to him on safe driving practices. 

       The days during the breakup weren’t always punctuated by sadness. One day at breakfast, what could have resulted in another tragedy brought some comic relief as several dishes slipped off the edge of her auntie’s kitchen table and fell on top of Cassie, knocking her off her chair. This, however, remained hidden in the dusty attic of memories among the terrible times of her youth.

       Cassie did, however, manage to survive the traumas of living in a “broken” and violent home that she had to face in addition to the usual challenges of completing grade school and high school. 

       The tea spilled again a few years later when Cassie entered a marriage too soon to a man she had known for only three weeks. She learned that her quick decision had brought with it an immature husband lacking in true masculinity. He was too out of touch with the modern world to have his wife lend her talents and ambitions to fully contribute to their marriage and society in the challenging world of work beyond the four walls of her kitchen.

       Following the shattering of her own wedded teacups, she eventually entered a second marriage. This time Cassie thought she had struck gold–in the person of a hard-working and noble man who quickly took on the roles of a husband who married later in life and adopted father. Stanley quickly filled the void left by the failure of Cassie’s first marriage and became a true hero to her two daughters.  However, the tea also spilled on those happy times as the illnesses that had silently ravaged him over several years overwhelmed Stanley and removed Cassie’s second husband from her life after too few years with his adopted family.

      After years and years of spilled tea, however, the life-toughened Cassie eventually righted her life’s cup.  She discovered a new way to fill in what could have been very lonely years with financial concerns by signing up as a guide. She spent many hours capturing the imaginations of tourists with tales of spilled tea among those who had walked the sands of her small Shore area many years before. 

     Finally, Cassie settled into the contentment of her older years as she captured the life that had long eluded her. She sat peacefully rocking on her front porch facing the ocean and sipping a cup of the warm, comforting potion that, for too many years, had brought her only tribulation and heartache.

January 11, 2022 20:25

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2 comments

Kelli Springer
17:45 Jan 21, 2022

I think this is a compelling story. I like Cassie and can sympathize with her. Well done. My only critique would be to cut back on your adjectives. Choose a strong descriptor and your writing will shine. For instance: "While she sipped the soothing brown hot brew in her cup" Could be: "while she sipped the soothing brew" if you want to imply that it's hot, maybe a sentence where she's watching the steam rise from her cup. Or how it's warming her hands? But I think your reader can infer that she sipping hot tea. :) Just a thought. Please...

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Bob Faszczewski
18:41 Jan 21, 2022

You have a point. I have to pay more attention to "show, don't tell." Thank you.

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