The boy was doomed. Brought up by romantics whose stories had only happy endings, whose only fights were food fights. A miniature person running around in the Tea Room, his earliest memory was seeing his father grate carrots, and his mother sifting through papers, either side of a table.
One morning his mother prepared an egg and tea for his father, like she did every morning, and took it back where they had fallen asleep together the night before. But his father hadn’t woken up. His heart had stopped.
His mother didn’t laugh much after that. And the boy didn’t feel like doing all the cooking, or anything in fact. His mother told him not to worry. ‘He is with his favourite things. One day you’ll die too, and all you’ll have to do is be lazy with your favourite things. But now you’re alive. There’s no time to be lazy. Have a life before you die.’
Despite her words, not long after that, her heart stopped too.
It was the end of a more innocent time. Things certainly change. When the boy ran the Tea Room there was a procedure for locking the doors and standing in the back room when gangs were outside.
He wondered when his story would start. And one day she entered the Tea Room. She smelled of flowers. She ate spaghetti with the largest, softest-looking set of lips he could have imagined. His heart was lost. He watched her wipe tomato sauce and flick crumbs off them. He enticed her to return with surprise treats, his father’s cream puffs or an experimental chilli-salsa on a blini. And he patiently waited for the right moment, and ignored the palpitations of his lost heart. And he kissed them. And she smiled a charming smile.
And when his mother and father were gone, she moved in, into the little white flat above the Tea Room. As it happened, she was very serious about numbers, and he was all for having fun in the kitchen. And she chided him.
But the fights weren’t as playful as his mother and father’s. And her heart changed. It was as if time ran backwards, the intimacy disappeared, then she forgot they were lovers, then it was as if they had never met. He never believed the separation would last. There’d be more happy times in the Tea Room. But it did last. And he went far away. He couldn’t be near her, near that adorable face. And that was the end of the Tea Room.
continued from The Tea Room (Part 2)
continued with The Tea Room (Part 4)
published 19 March 2012