Short Fiction: A Soothing Cup of Tea

Coffee and TeaTen-fourteen. Kimber prepared a hazelnut frappé. Her hands moved from rote memory. She’d made the same drink every day at that time for the last three years. Without fail.

The bell above the door tinkled, signaling the arrival of a new customer. Quarter after ten, on the nose. She looked down, letting her hair fall forward to curtain her face, and glanced at the patron entering the coffee shop. Skye Summerhill, right on time.

For the most part, Kimber enjoyed working as a barista at Perk Up. Her coworkers were funny and the customers—most of the customers—were friendly. Good tippers, too. They made it possible for her to take night courses toward her degree. So what if everyone else her age had already attended and graduated college, already been working for ten years? Most had gotten married and started a family. Kimber might be behind them, but she’d get there eventually. For the time being, her life was good. Comfortable. Happy.

Except for every day at quarter after ten.

“Kimber.”

Skye’s high-pitched voice grated on Kimber’s nerves, but she plastered on a fake smile—okay, truth be told, it was probably a grimace—and approached the counter, frappé in hand. “The usual, Skye?”

“What? No pleasantries?” She glanced at the tip jar. “There would probably be more in there if you were friendly.”

Kimber dropped the pretense and glared at her. “We aren’t friends, Skye. Never were.”

“Now, that’s not true. We used to be best friends.”

“Best friends don’t steal boyfriends.”

“Are you still not over that? It’s been a decade.”

It had been eleven years, three months, actually, not that Kimber would admit to counting. Besides, her sorrow at losing her high school boyfriend evaporated years ago. It was the bitterness at her friend’s betrayal that she’d never gotten over. “I’m over Tommy, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“Then what’s your problem?”

“I don’t have a problem.”

“Could have fooled me. You’re always so mean to me when I come in here.”

“Then stop coming in.”

Skye recoiled like she’d been slapped.

Kimber wished she’d had the pleasure of actually slapping her. “What can I get you, Skye? I’ve got work to do.”

“There’s no one in line but me.”

“I do more than wait on customers. So order, or leave. I’m busy.”

“Give me one large mocha cappuccino with a shot of espresso and two extra pumps of chocolate syrup.”

That was Tommy’s preferred beverage. Far too sweet for any normal human. God, she hated it when Tommy joined Skye for coffee. They’d sit right across from the counter and flaunt their relationship, holding hands and stealing kisses.

And Kimber thought Tommy’s cappuccino was nauseating.

“Is that all, or do you want a frappé, too?”

“No, something different today.”

Figured. Skye had probably seen the drink already prepared and decided to make things difficult.

“What?”

Skye lifted her left hand to her chin and tapped her pursed lips, like she was deep in thought.

Kimber recognized the gesture for what it was—a punch to the virtual gut. She had a wedding band on. Her stomach churned.

Skye pointed to the display of teas in a wildly unnatural way, clearly trying to show off her ring, and smiled a saccharine smile. “I’ll have the lemon ginger herbal. Ginger is supposed to be good for morning sickness.”

Kimber made the drinks in silence and passed them over the counter. “They’re on me, today.” No way was she sticking around while Skye paid the bill. She managed to mumble one last word, insincere though it was. “Congratulations.”

“Why, thank you, Kimber. What a kind gesture. Finally, we’re able to move past—”

Skye continued talking, but Kimber turned her back ran to the restroom. She wasn’t the one with morning sickness, but she doubted she’d be able to hold down her breakfast.


This post inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Tea.

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31 thoughts on “Short Fiction: A Soothing Cup of Tea

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links |

    • I will admit to writing pet deaths and injuries in my work. It was hard and I cried, but it was necessary for the plot. I was probably able to do that because I’ve never lost a pet yet. (Don’t want to think about it as I look at my two sweet doglings.)

      Having had a miscarriage, though, I don’t know if I can ever write about a baby (born or unborn) dying. I’m still not really over that. I don’t know; maybe writing about that situation would be cathartic. That’s something to consider…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jess. But it was a long time ago.

      Maybe I will try to write about it someday, but as I’m about to be an empty-nester (or close to it), I don’t think it’s the right time to attempt it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Many, many thanks. That’s quite a compliment, coming from you.

      I just finished incorporating the last of your comments/edits into my WIP. (Yep, I’m that behind that I’m just getting to it now.) Your notes have me jazzed to move on. I’m thrilled these characters are resonating with you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • You have a habit of creating characters I fall in love with. To me, fiction is all about memorable characters and yours are certainly that. I can’t wait to see what you come up with moving ahead!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another eye opener. Women remember different things and tend to hold grudges differently than men. Love Skye’s gesture with the ring, and the blow about morning sickness. Such a great piece. (Drinking some too cool Irish Breakfast as I type this.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic. I think you’ve got a new fan. I started reading because of the title as I’m a little obsessed with tea! I’ve been umming and ahhhhing about writing a little Ode To Tea, and during my procrastination I have read at least 5 posts dedicated to tea! So I may delay it. 😂
    Super post 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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