The following is a very short story I wrote in response to a two word challenge - chipped teacup.
Emily slowly twirled the handle of the chipped teacup around until the smooth, unbroken part of the rim faced her. She reached for the fragile handle. Her once delicate fingers gnarled with arthritis could not grasp it. She leaned back in her bed until her frail body rested against the pillows her day care giver, Mrs. Fogg, stacked to prop Emily up at meal time. She would be in soon to feed her and, more importantly to Emily, to hold the cup of tea to her lips.
She didn't mind waiting for Mrs. Fogg. Her granddaughter, Tracey, found Emily’s treasure box of photos and gradually decorated the walls with the most precious of them. Almost a hundred years of family and friends, most of her generation now gone, frozen in time, awaited her gaze each day. Her ninety-eight years drew a blanket of haze over her yesterdays, but not her yesteryears. Each photo unfolded its story vividly, just as sharply as the day it was taken.
As often happened, Emily's eyes grew heavy after reliving a photo or two and she drifted off to sleep. When she awoke, her tray was gone. She had missed her tea and her bones screamed out for the pain medication she also missed. She called for Mrs. Fogg. But it wasn't Mrs. Fogg who answered her call. Emily strained to clear her vision still blurred from sleep.
"Susan, is that you? Oh, Susan I knew you would return one day!" Susan smiled and sat down on the bed. "Just before I drifted off to sleep, I was looking at that photo of us when we were girls. See, the one in the center of the wall?"
Susan turned to look at the photo taken so long ago. "Mrs. Fogg wanted to take it down. She thought it made me sad. Tracey said she would not let her. I told Tracey about you, about our last tea party together the day before the people from the state took us away from each other. I knew one day you would come back, that you would find me. Remember the tea party behind the garden? When I close my eyes I can see the little table you set for us and how you made it so pretty with our floral blanket for a tablecloth and the new yellow washcloths for napkins. How did you smuggle Mama’s tea set out of the house? I never in my life ever had such delicious tea. I still have the teacup that I dropped that afternoon. Every day, I drink my tea out of it and think about you. I always wonder if life has been good to you. I can’t complain. Life has been mostly good to me – except for the empty spot only you can fill. I have missed you so."
Exhausted and wracked with pain, Emily paused. She rarely had the energy to speak more than a couple of sentences. If only Mrs. Fogg would bring her medicine, Emily felt she and Susan could then share all the stories and adventures of their lives. Susan brushed back a wisp of hair from Emily’s forehead. In that moment, Emily’s long ago faded clarity of mind and perception returned reinvigorating her spirit. “Susan, you’ve come for me, haven’t you?” Susan took Emily’s hand and, as death set her free, Emily smiled.
Teacup Image courtesy of Designed to a T – free download