Flash Fiction Friday – Serving Tea

Flash! Fiction! Friday! It’s been a while, huh? This little piece is a sort of behind-the-scenes snippet from a story I started working on last year. It was originally meant to be a short story but it sorta grew into a novella. Oops! Writing this snippet really made me wanna work on that story again! Hope you enjoy it.

The stranger stepped in through the open front door, cousin Temen following close behind. The child watched them as they ascended the stairs, peering out through the small crack of the near-closed door.
“Do I go up now, do I go?” The child turned from the door, bouncing on the balls of their feet with barely contained nervousness.
“Calm down, little treasure,” their entle replied. “The water comes first.” Moving over to the stove, they grabbed the boiling kettle with a towel-wrapped hand and poured the hot liquid into the small clay tea pot, the nice one with the gilded flowers painted on it.
The child watched wide-eyed, and as soon as the pot was full, they asked again. “Do I go up now?”
“Calm!” Their entle’s tone was half admonition, half laughter. “We cannot serve tea this pale for such an important occasion, now can we?”
The child shook their head.
“That’s what I thought. Now sit, and calm yourself. You can’t carry the tray bouncing like that.”
Reluctantly, the child sat down on the small bench and stilled their bouncing feet. Their entle sat next to them, and the minutes stretched out in silence, unbearably slow. Just when the child thought they’d surely waited long enough for the meeting to finish and the stranger to leave, their entle stood up. “Right then,” they said. “Get your slippers on.”
The child jumped up, and quickly pulled on the gentle blue slippers that stood by the door, then looked expectantly at their entle.
“Now… take the tray.”
The child stepped up to the table, sparks dancing in their belly like fireworks. They grabbed their tray, wrapping their small fingers firmly around each handle, and lifted.
“Do you have it?” their entle asked.
“Are you sure?”
They child nodded, and turned slowly with the tray, beginning toward the door. For a moment they panicked – the door was closed, and they’d been so focused on carrying the tray that they hadn’t even considered such a thing as a closed door – but it was soon over as their entle’s wrinkled hand pushed the obstacle open.
Across the hall floor and up the stairs the child carried the tray, and their entle followed close behind, their hand hovering over the child’s shoulder, ready for the slightest wobble.
“It’s not heavy,” the child said as they started down the upper hallway toward the library at its end, but their entle followed none-the-less.
At the door they stopped, and the child looked up. Warm, brown eyes smiled back down at them and a gentle hand landed briefly on their shoulder. “You’ll be fine. Go on in.” The hand alighted, and moved to push the door open. From the library, two voices were heard – one familiar, one new. The room was very bright, the light spilling in from the window momentarily blinding. Then the child moved forward, carefully moving a first slippered foot across the threshold.

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