The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Would You Like Some Tea?
by Melissa R. Mendelson
She answered after the first knock on the door. Her eyes widened in surprise, not expecting to find a customer, but she gestured for them to come inside. She pulled her sweater closed over her chest and moved toward the kitchen, where a pot of water was already boiling. She gestured again, this time to a chair, and went to turn off the oven.
“Would you like some tea?” I didn’t answer her. “That’s why you are here. Isn’t it?”
I sat down in the chair. “How about a glass of water?”
She fixed herself a cup of tea, and I wondered if that were the special tea, the one that my mother drank. I expected her to make me a cup too, but she got the glass of water. She placed it down in front of me and positioned herself in a chair nearby. She avoided my eyes, quietly sipping her tea.
“Do you drink your own stuff?”
“No, this is regular tea.”
“I know what you did.” I watched the cup freeze along her lips. “I know everything about you.”
“Is that why you are here?” She placed the cup on the table. “For revenge? You plan on killing me?”
“I just want to know where it is, where you keep it.”
I leaned closer, noticing the tremors in her hands. “You know what I’m asking for.”
“Oh, that.” She relaxed, smiling, drinking more of her tea. “I thought you were here for a different reason.”
“You killed my mother.”
She dropped the cup in her hands, and I grabbed it before it could crash to the floor. Some tea caught on my skin, hot and burning, and I flinched. But I didn’t dry my hand. Instead, I placed the cup back on its saucer.
“I didn’t know she was your mother. I’m sorry.”
“It’s too late for apologies.”
“I’m sorry,” she repeated.
“It’s your fault.”
“I didn’t mean to. I wasn’t paying attention.”
“Paying attention? You are responsible.”
“So, you are here for that? Look, I’ve paid the price for what I’ve done, and I’m trying to redeem myself for it. I’m doing good things now to make up for it.”
“Nothing will make up for it, and you’re still doing it.”
“No, I’m not. It was a one-time thing, and I’ve paid for that crime.”
“It’s a crime that your tea is still available in stores.” I didn’t mean to yell at her, but I did. “You’re still doing it.”
“Are you talking about my tea or the hit and run?” Her words shocked me. “You’re talking about the tea, but I don’t understand.” She opened her sweater a little, revealing her skin, and something red stuck out of her chest. She reached for it, pulling it, and flinched as it snapped off. It was a red petal shaped as a heart. “After the hit and run, these started to grow out of my chest. I thought that turning myself in would make it stop, but it didn’t. Then, I accidently dropped one into a cup of tea for a friend, and they felt so much better afterward.”
“They feel better for a short time.” I sat back in my seat. “Then, they feel nothing. Nothing at all. Nothing like they are even alive, and my mother decided one day to take a walk. She walked across the street during rush hour when it was a green light.”
“So, you are here for revenge.” She rubbed her forehead. “Oh, I feel dizzy.” She noticed brown dirt on the table around her cup and saucer. “Is that dirt?”
“Plant killer.” I let those words hang in the air. “I had my suspicions about you, about where the petals were coming from. I even found a dead one, and I noticed that it had veins in it like human veins. So, I guess I was right, and when you were busy making yourself some tea and getting my water, I sprinkled some plant killer on the table and your chair.”
Suddenly, I felt hot. It reminded me of summer and how good the sun felt on my skin. My stress rolled away like an ocean wave, and I had such an urge to rush to the beach. I wanted to bury my toes in the sand, breathe in that saltwater air. My gaze moved over to her cup of tea.
“I lied to,” she said. “I wasn’t drinking regular tea.”
Fiction © Copyright Melissa R. Mendelson
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com.
About Author Melissa R. Mendelson:
Melissa R. Mendelson is a Horror, Science-Fiction, and Dystopian Author. Her short stories have been published by Sirens Call Publications, Dark Helix Press, and Transmundane Press. She also has a variety of short stories and poetry available on Medium.