Rebecca stood in the kitchen, tears streaming her cheeks and a solid resolve were the only things keeping her out of bed. She opened the first cabinet and pulled out a fancy wooden box with a glass top. On the top, he’d etched the word tea in eloquent script, and she gently traced her finger over the word. Noah had bought her this storage box one Christmas when they’d first married. It was a silly thing, but the most thoughtful of the gifts he’d ever given her.
She’d had a love for tea from an early age and often tried new flavors or brands in search of the perfect cup. It had always managed to warm her up, comforting and soothing, no matter what had befallen her that day. But today she felt numb as she turned the faucet on and set about filling the kettle with the ice-cold water. Setting the lovely red kettle onto the stove, she cranked the burner on and listened to the breathy sigh as the gas took the light.
Noah stepped into the kitchen at that moment, and she gave him a weepy grin. He wore his work uniform and leaned against the doorjamb with a wink. If it was possible, he was even more handsome today than he’d been standing at the end of the aisle in a tuxedo.
“Why are you staring at me like that, Becky?” he murmured as he completed his walk into their kitchen. They’d bought this brick home for a steal many years ago and had turned it into their own little piece of paradise. They had fully renovated the kitchen with many arguments and tears. Turning, Rebecca flipped through her tea choices as she remembered the fight over what countertops to go with---granite or concrete. And when she’d gotten mad that he’d picked out the flooring without her. What stupid things to fight over, she thought now.
Noah sat at their kitchen table and watched her every move as she picked out her tea and grabbed her favorite mug from the hook on the wall. Noah had built that table with his father’s help one balmy summer afternoon. It was crooked and needed a phone book under the leg to keep it level---but she’d loved it and never let him replace the ugly thing. Rebecca smiled at him as she unwrapped her tea choice and set it in the mug to anticipate the boiling water.
The kettle sang its beautiful song and Rebecca snapped off the fire before lifting the kettle and pouring the steaming water into the waiting mug and tea bag. She lifted and dunked the tea bag a few times before letting it steep. She lifted it to carry it to the table.
“Wait, Becky,” Noah said. “You need to eat something with the tea.”
Nodding, she sighed as she hunted for something easy to accompany her tea. Settling on a stale donut that she dropped on a semi-clean plate she made her way to sit across from Noah. He frowned at her food choice but said nothing else as they waited for the tea to finish it’s flavorful journey.
Rebecca lifted the mug to her chapped lips, and blew on the liquid to hopefully prevent the burn before sipping delicately. Noah leaned back in his chair and smirked at her, causing her tender heart to race like it did the first time he’d given her that look over the pool table at their college bar. Since that moment, she didn’t think they’d spent more than work hours apart and they both loved every moment together. At least she hoped he'd loved it as much as she did.
“Of course, I do, Becky.” He winked at her. “I was lucky enough to find my person.”
Rebecca’s eyes grew teary, but she was too dry to let any fall. Instead, she sipped her tea again. He’d asked her to marry him after only a few months together, and although everyone thought them crazy, they’d eloped a few weeks after that.
“But they were wrong, weren’t they? We’ve made it all this time.” Noah kicked out his legs to cross them and relaxed more into his chair.
Rebecca nodded in agreement. They had been wrong, and Noah was a good man with a strong work ethic and family values. Plus, he never failed to make her laugh. Once he bought a blow-up dinosaur suit and spent hours roaming the neighborhood, roaring at people. And the jokes Noah would tell… endlessly leaving her in stitches. Even if somewhere inappropriate.
“What can I say, I’m a funny guy.” Noah winked at her.
Rebecca chuckled as she took another sip of tea. He wasn’t just funny. He was exuberant and vital---life was exciting with him around. They’d sailed on a cruise ship down in the Caribbean. They’d jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, or he’d pushed her out of the plane if she was being honest about it. They’d swam with dolphins and sharks and a million fishes. They’d hiked mountains, biked through Europe, and danced in the rain underneath the Eiffel Tower. Together, they’d managed to see almost every corner of the world, from the freezing Northern Lights to the jungles of South America.
“You only get to live this life a short time, Becky. You gotta really live it,” Noah murmured.
Rebecca stared at the tea in the mug and sighed as it chilled, the warmth seeping from the cup as it seeped from her. She glanced back at Noah, and he reached to brush a tear from her cheek. “Don’t cry, baby. It’s going to be okay; I promise.”
A knock sounded. With her shoulders hunched, Rebecca tucked her robe around her dirty pajamas and shuffled towards the front door. Her best friend stood there with her hair and makeup on point, dressed in a comfy pair of yoga pants and a huge sweatshirt, and frowned at Rebecca.
“Becky, honey, it’s been weeks.” Lauren entered the house without knocking and glanced around, but said nothing of the filthy mess. “What were you doing?”
“Having tea,” Rebecca whispered.
Lauren grabbed her hands and smiled at her. “How about we get you a shower, some clean clothes, and go out to our favorite tea house.”
“Noah wouldn’t want you wasting away in here alone, Becky. You know he wouldn’t.”
Rebecca glanced into the kitchen where Noah once again leaned against the door frame. “She’s right, Becky. I think you will feel better if you get out. I’ll be here when you get back. For as long as you need me.” Noah gave her a slight nod. “Go with Lauren, or she’ll pester us both.”
Lauren looked at the kitchen and blew out a heavy breath. “Come on. Let’s go. I am not taking no for an answer.” Lauren picked out clothes and set them in the bathroom. While Rebecca was showering, she went about cleaning the once beautiful kitchen. “What am I going to do with her, Noah? I want her to be happy,” Lauren whispered to herself as she scrubbed the counter after loading the dishwasher.
“So do I, Lauren.” Noah leaned against the counter and watched her work.
Lauren looked up at the ceiling with tears shimmering in her eyes. “Give me a sign that I’m doing the right thing by forcing her out of solitary confinement.”
Noah touched her cheek. Lauren shivered and shook her head. “Must be a draft.”
Noah watched from the bay window as Lauren shoved the reluctant Becky into the car. She would be okay. He’d make sure of it. After all, they’d never been apart in over twenty years. Why stop now.