Hot Tea

Sarah Eddenden

When the baby sleeps, I make warm dark sweet tea, grab the package of Pirate cookies, leave the door open, rest on the front stoop.

Hello, Madalyn, says the woman with the baby carriage.

Not really. Still, I see her every day, through steam rising from my cup, imagine her to be something more interesting than she most likely is. Her name is Frostie and she used to be a stripper. Her husband works in steel. Her baby keeps her up at night with colic, she searches early morning television for an I Dream Of Jeannie rerun, a blue movie.

Her husband snores. Her baby's unattractive. Her breasts now sag. The twins, the boys from down the block, Theo and Leo, both white skinned, red lipped. Their mother -- Candee -- yells after them, Be careful. Once I saw Theo whisper to Leo, Fuck you. Conspiratorial giggling.

I see them in bed at night, flashlights under covers, books on magical tricks, curses, getting away with murder. I've never seen their father, I imagine he is an overachiever, Rex, he smells like expensive cologne, makes his wife go down on him, It's for the good of my health honey.

I dunk the peanut butter cream in the light brown waves of tea and place it between my teeth, suck.

The mailman, old, red-faced, Maxim, beige moustache, chain smoker. Maxim does say hi; I sniff at him in return as he drops junk mail, bills in my lap, smell smoke and bars and late nights and bourbon, maybe, or rye.

You're overdue.

I hear a cry, stop to listen, nothing, a streetcar from far away.

Please baby let me finish my tea.

The girl with the red hair. Tall, freckles, so skinny, no breasts. Fuschia.

She moves delicately with size nine feet, long white teeth bite at her lower lip, she's thinking about her job, the job she loves and they love her, she's consumed with the guy in the cubicle down from her, she's artistic and so is he, but would getting together be right? He's fucking another woman, she doesn't know, he's got a problem with pussy.

In America, they have to differentiate between hot and cold tea.

The teenager, in black, always late, never hurrying. Fergus holds a thermos one day and right before me, smacks it against a lamp post, makes a dent, screams, Take that!

My baby starts crying. I dump the rest of my tea over the stoop. Leave. One day, the redhead -- Fuschia -- looks straight at me.

You're mid thirties, I call you Liza, your hair's in need of a trim, so tired, look at your eyes -- panicked, even; husband who works early, works late, you're not much of a cook, much of a mother? what's to become of you?

I thought I was see-through.

I burn my tongue.


Top of page