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Fiction LGBTQ+

“ Anne, I am going to be late.”   John says, “it is a longer bus ride for me from this new house.”   

He looks up, his warm brown eyes meet Anne’s .“How are you feeling? You should stay off your feet,” He says softly.    Anne rubs her growing belly and smiles. 

“At least have an egg with your tea.”  Anne nudges a soft boiled egg in front of John while she pours a cup from the white teapot with the pictures of birds and houses and boats in blue. 

“ I can drink the tea, at least,” Anne says as she refills her own matching cup.  

“ More sugar and cream?”  She offers hesitantly.

 “Uh, Just cream.”   John looks away, down at his cup.

“ Isn't the set nice?” Anne says.”  It is the Churchill Blue pattern from my Aunt Margaret, from the wedding. I finally unwrapped it, now we have our own cupboards. The pictures tell the story of two lovers kept apart who turn into birds.” Her fingers brush John’s saucer. 

“Hmm”  John finishes his tea and stands up. “That Aunt Margaret is a strange one, She lives in the City, still unmarried,  right?” 

‘She has not found the one, I guess.’ Anne says quietly.   

She looks around at the small kitchen. The little blue doves on the crisp yellow wallpaper, are brightly lit by the morning sunlight from the kitchen window.  

“Unnatural I say. “ John says as he puts his jacket on. 

Anne turns away to the kitchen window.  “Thank you for the plant.” 

“It’s just a cutting of English ivy. More of a weed really. My mother always had one in the house,   I only put it in a pot.” John blushes when he says this.  

Anne’s face lightens up with a smile. 

“I prefer flowers usually, but I put it here on the window.  It brings something, to the house, doesn't it? ”  Anne touches the terracotta pot on the kitchen window sill above the sink, a few small green leaves with white edges rise from the rich brown soil. 

She steps toward John, stroking him lightly on his arm.  

 “Here is your lunch, Dear. Have a good day at work”

 _______________________

The tea kettle whistles long and loud. 

“Momma, momma, I don't want toast. I want some cake! I want cake!”  The small girl yells from her high chair and hits the kitchen table with her hand, rattling the white and blue teacups, spilling milky tea onto their saucers.  

“Dammit, woman! Keep the child quiet! “ 

John yells at Anne’s back. She has poured the hot water into the teapot and stops to look out the window. The English ivy now extends across the entire bottom of the windowsill and is pinned to grow up the side as well. 

“Is my lunch ready?” John demands as he opens the front door.  “Make sure the tea is strong before you put it in the thermos. It tasted of brown water yesterday. Oh, and I'll be home late, we’re going to the pub after work.” 

“I want cake!” Her small face turns red and her body tenses with the effort of her scream.

“Lizzie, Keep that up and you’ll get nothing at all!” John growls at the girl. 

 “That's the third night this week,” Anne says quietly to the blue and white teapot as her hands, tense and strong, pour the tea into the narrow neck of the thick thermos.  She screws on the top fiercely and then hands it and the lunch box to John without looking up.  

“Hmm”  He grunts. He steps out and the door slams shut. 

The quiet stillness fills the room.  

The woman looks out the window as the drops of rain collecting on the glass drip slowly down.    

Without turning the Anne says, 

“If I find you some cake will you promise to stay in your room?”

________________________

“Lizzie, you and Mary,  you should probably leave soon before your Father comes home. “

The three women are sitting at the kitchen table, a tea set with pictures of birds and houses and boats in blue. in front of them   

“He is at the pub, Ma. He won't be home for hours.”  Lizzie says as she spins the empty teacup in its saucer. 

Anne looks at the clock against the faded yellow wall with little blue doves. She uses both hands to pour more tea into Lizzie’s cup.  Lizzie’s sweaters’ long sleeve slides down exposing her strong forearm and a tattoo of two birds as she picks up the teacup and looks closely at it.  “I always believed there was a family living in the house. “And they were nice to each other and no one yelled.”  She says quietly. 

Lizzie looks at Anne and says quietly, “Mary and I are moving in together Ma.” 

If we can just borrow some money,  we need to have first, last month's rent, plus a deposit. We can pay you back in a few months.” 

“I don't know…”   Anne leans back as she looks to Lizzie, and then to Mary. Mary in a thick chore jacket,  has her head down, looking into the teacup intently.  

“I have some money saved away, but.”   Anne clenches her hands together,  “ It is not natural. Women should be with men. The Bible says…”

“Look how it worked out with you and Dad!” Lizzie interrupts, her face turning red.   

Lizzie grabs Mary’s hand and holds it tight. “Mom we love each other, and I am tired of hiding. We have been together now for three years! We are just asking for a little help. Please?”

Ann looks down at her own teacup and says nothing.  

The door opens suddenly and John steps in, his shoulder hits the door jam hard as he stumbles in. “Woman, do we have anything to eat?”  He asks too loudly for the small room.  

Ann and Lizzie both tense with fear. 

John looks over and sees the women sitting at the table.  

“Oh, you finally showed your face here again Lizzie. You must be needing something.  What,  money? We ain’t got no money for you girl.” Spittle flies out of his mouth.

John pauses and a sick grin forms on his face. “ Oh that is what you want, I can see it in your eyes!”  He exclaims.  “Well, you ain't getting a damn red cent!” He says as he points threateningly to Lizzie. 

“And, who is this, you look like a man with your short hair, but I know Lizzie doesn’t hang out with men,  just a twisted perversion,”  John says with a snarl as he shifts his foot to balance himself and sways slightly. 

“ Dad, you can't talk to Mary like that! She is a person, I am a person! And we love each other, You don’t even know what love is.”  Lizzie yells through her tears. She physically shrinks away on the table. 

John raises his hand, to hit Lizzie. 

Mary puts her hands on the table and stands up. Not tall, her energy keeps growing past her height as she looks John in the eyes.

“No.”  She commands.  

He pauses, frozen.  

“ I told you, …,  well this was not a good idea. We’ll go.“  Mary says as she grabs Lizzie’s hand and helps her up by her shoulders.  Anne reaches out hesitantly to Lizzie's arm, but stops and looks at John, still tense.  

As Mary and Lizzie get to the door John speaks again.  “It's my house, I can do whatever I goddamn want! “

 With his still raised hand, he reaches over and sweeps the white and blue teacups and saucers off the table. 

“ Get out of this house! Get out of this house! You are dead to me!" John yells as Mary and Lizzie leave the room.  

Only a little afternoon light comes through the kitchen window blocked by the overgrown ivy. Anne looks up at the little blue doves on yellow wallpaper peeling off the wall behind the dingy porcelain stove.

_______________________ 

“I am so sorry for your loss.”  Ms. June says. She is sitting at the kitchen table filled with foil-wrapped cakes and plates of food on it.  

  “Please let me know if you need anything.   I am right down the street and can come by any time.”   She says as she pats Anne’s hand.   

It took all of Anne’s attention to pour tea into three repaired teacups with pictures of birds and houses and boats in blue.  

“I've given out all my cups, this is all I have left,  Mrs. June.  I apologize, they are cracked” Anne says.  

“And, here you go, Father O, Brien. Thank you for your sermon.” Anne says softly.

“Thank you, Anne.  I didn't see your husban, - uh, John, at the memorial. Have you spoken to him since your daughter passed? '' Father O’Brien asks.

Ms. June leans forward to look at Anne. Anne turns away to return the teapot to the porcelain stove. 

In a hushed whisper, Ms. June says, ” Anne had a letter last year.  He went north.  He has not responded to her own letters.“  

Father O’Brien, picking up his teacup to drink, asks, “And what about your granddaughter?”  

Anne is standing at the sink looking at the window, entirely covered with ivy. 

"I always hated this plant," Anne says as she rips down the terracotta pot and pulls the long shoots of the plant from the window sill. 

The warm afternoon sun shines in. 

“Even the teacups weep today,” Father O’Brien says as he wipes off the side of the cup with a napkin where the tea leaked through the crack.

_____________________

Anne’s wrinkled hands shake as she pours tea into cracked teacups for Mary, herself, and a little girl, from a white teapot with pictures of birds and houses and boats in blue.

“How did you sleep ?”  Anne asks.

Mary smiles and her shoulders relax. She looks around at the small kitchen and the freshly painted light blue walls, brightly lit by the morning sunlight from the kitchen window. The window sill has fresh cut flowers in a clear vase, sparkling in the sun 

“I slept good, thanks. I need to leave soon for work, can you get Maggie to her pre-school? “ Mary asks.

Anne nods and hands the little girl in the high chair a white teacup with a blue house on it. She touches Maggie on the shoulder. 

“Here is your favorite cup,  Can you see the little people inside the house? Tell them good morning!” 

“Good morning blue people! “  Maggie says. 

“Here is your lunch, Mary,” Anne says as she hands over a lunch bag.

 “I told you, you don’t have to do this,” Mary says, looking at Anne.

“I have time, and you know…” Anne stops to smile.  She wipes her hands on her apron.

“Off you go, you shouldn't be late. We’ll be fine!  Anne gently pushes Mary towards the door.  

“Well, thank you!” And see you later Maggie! “  Mary says as she opens the door, and then closes it softly behind her. 

Anne sits with Maggie at the kitchen table. “What shall we play this morning?” Anne asks Maggie. 

The cups are cracked but repaired,  the seams are not quite smooth.  It weeps but only a little.

January 13, 2022 19:24

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