Pot of Tea

The water was boiling for so long, Skunk figured the whole pot would evaporate. He’d made to get up a few times already, but Grandma never wanted him near the stove. Something about an uncle of his getting terribly burned as a boy.

Burned so bad, he ended up dead.

No one ever talked about that, except one time at Christmas when he woke up in the middle of the night and saw Grandma sitting by the tree holding a little stocking and sobbing. Grandpa came up behind him, but his big calloused hand on his shoulder and walked him back to bed.

“Do you know why she was crying,” he asked, tucking Skunk in bed. “We had a little boy. Once.”

And then the man who seemed carved and chiseled from oak and stone’s eyes welled up and he said good night and shuffled out of the room. Skunk’s mom told him the rest of the story once when she and her friend had too much wine and got in a fight and he left instead of spending the night.

So even if the kettle screamed and spit, he sat at the kitchen table, colouring and eating sugar cookies.

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8 thoughts on “Pot of Tea

  1. I love the way you hint at the backstory, but I’m even more intrigued by what’s going to happen *now*, and why Skunk is on his own with a boiling kettle. Such a great story, full of questions yet complete in and of itself.

  2. Very touching. What a good little boy, I hope he doesn’t end up hurt when the kettle burns out.

  3. There’s so many layers to this, I don’t even know where to begin. I read it twice to see what else I could pick up. It’s just fantastic. There are so many things going on in this that I suspect you probably don’t even intend to weave into the story, but you give us plenty to infer all kinds of wonderful and terrible things from. Fantastic!

  4. This is great. I too loved the description of the grandfather & think there is something really poignant about the tears in his eyes. The narrator seems to have had a problematic relationship with his mother and I presume that’s why he’s alone now. There’s so much that I found intriguing about this. Well done on a great job.

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