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A Shattered Cup of Earl Grey

A Shattered Cup of Earl Grey

A teacup and saucer shatter, followed by the apology of a scullery maid and the berating’s of her mistress. The flowing fragrant contents of the now dashed china cup scattered across the polished tile floor. The still steaming liquid pooling at the feet of a beautiful, teary eyed girl who I now found rushing past me and into the hall.

Her arm brought up in an attempt to shield her face from mine, yet the still red handprint on her cheek peers through.

“Cornelius, be a dear and clean up her mess.” ordered the plump woman seated at the dainty circular table at the room’s centre, for which she was too large.

“Oh Vera how DO you manage with such lack luster help?”

“Well Primrose we can not all live with such privileges as you.”

“Not all of us can afford to live like I do,” retorted the lady in the ostrich feather hat, as she poured herself a cup of Earl Grey. I couldn’t help but let out a little chortle as I began cleaning the shattered porcelain.

For as comfortable as the house was, it had indeed seen better days, the paint was beginning to peel in places and a drafty dampness seemed to surround the home. The once opulent gardens had become overgrown into a labyrinth of weeds and unattended shrubs which had strangled the few flowers that remained; every inch of the grandiose halls covered by furniture and heaping mounds of trash.

“Well Primrose at least I have STYLE and PANACHE…” the plump woman began pouring herself a steaming cup of the odorous tea. “Which reminds me, Primrose, speaking of style. I must say that, on normal circumstances such a… FLAMBOYANT… hat would be gaudy… but you manage to pull it off.” The lady in the ostrich feather hat blinked, deep and deliberately, finishing with her steely stare aimed at the plump lady’s very soul.

I returned to my post standing against the wall in time to catch the plump woman flashing a forced toothy grin to the lady in the ostrich feather hat, who returned the gesture in an equally unnerving manner. Reaching into my pocket I retrieved a cigarette and lit it, creating the only sounds in the now silent parlour.

“Well I must say Vera, I think it is INCREDIBLY BRAVE for you to be wearing such a tight fitting gown. I know that if I had a figure like YOURS I would not dare don something so tight.” The lady in the ostrich feather hat plopped a lump of sugar in her tea and poured in enough milk that it turned nearly snow white.

“Well Primrose YOU would know better than anyone what GHASTLY things a corset can hide.” The plump lady plopped in a handful of sugar cubes, stirring them vigorously into the vortex in her cup. I could hardly contain the chuckle I felt rising in my chest, and resorted to turning into a cough once it broke free.

However the pair were too occupied with other matters, paying no attention to me. “My DEAREST Vera, do you think SO MUCH sugar is wise?” she inquired, turning her nose up to the intricate ceiling. It’s plaster covering flaking off and drifting to the ground like a light snowfall.

“My DEAREST Primrose, do you think SO MUCH concealer is wise?” retorted the plump lady, her lips pursed and gaze narrowing as she sustained a drawn out eye contact with her guest. She loudly tapped her spoon on the brim of the cup and the two gave a long and hearty forced laugh. Thy began sipping their tea in silence for what I felt was far too long a time. I began to find myself daydreaming as the minutes dragged by.

I was at the beach, a red and white striped towel below me and a matching umbrella shielding me from the sun’s rays. The waves crashed and cascaded upon one another just a few feet off. The brine smelt strong and inviting as did the sounds of the squawking gulls cresting in the blue midafternoon sky. It was at this moment that I became acutely aware that the heat of my cigarette was coming dangerously close to my gloved hand. I no longer found myself at the picturesque seaside, but in the dim and drafty parlour of the plump lady. I put my cigarette out in the ashtray at my side, retrieved a new one from my pocket and returned to observing the room.

Having greedily scarfed down a scone the woman in the ostrich feather hat made an inquiry. “Vera, I can not help but notice the CONSPICUOUS ABSENCE of Francis, WHERE prey tell has he gone?” With this she gave a long conniving grin and narrowed her eyes again at the plump woman.

“My DARLING husband is off on business.” she replied hastily in an almost rehearsed manner. The lady in the ostrich feather hat took a deep loud sip of her tea, smirking as she stopped and paused.

“Oh…MY MISTAKE, I thought HE may have been with THAT WHORE again!” with this the plump lady’s expression darkened and she briskly put down her teacup. “WELL Primrose, at least MY husband ISN’T IN AN URN!” The lady in the ostrich feather hat daintily placed her teacup on the tiny table. Silently she retrieved the napkin at her right hand, and brought it to her mouth; gently dabbing away the remnants of the earl gray. Finishing she delicately folded it back up and returned it to the table. Upon its return she looked back up at the plump lady and smiled a genuine smile.

She then proceeded to fling herself across the table, her arms outstretched in anticipation. “FUCK YOU VERA!” She cried as her claws made contact with her target, the flabby and wrinkly form of the plump lady’s many chins. The table clattered to the floor in a heap, its cornucopia of cakes and drinks overturned and scattered about.

“Unhand me you TROGLODYTE!” Whimpered the plump lady as she struck a blow to the lady in the ostrich feather hat’s gut.

At this moment the scullery maid came bounding back into the room. She attempted to take a step forward towards the unfolding mele but a raising of my arm obstructed her advancement.

She turned to face me, silently I raised my hand with my index finger lifted. She looked back at the two women engaged in battle and turning back to me she took up the spot at my side to watch.

A teapot dashed upon one’s head, a cup of lukewarm tea was tossed into the other’s face. A piece of overly sweet cake smeared across one’s overly tight unflattering dress and a priceless china saucer making contact with her attacker’s temple. A hefty hand with fingers like sausages bounces off a bony cheek painted with too much concealer. “CORNELIUS GET THIS BITCH OFF OF ME!”

I let out a small sigh, rolling my eyes. I put my cigarette out and the maid and I sauntered in to pull the two women apart before they killed one other. The plump lady got to her feet and attempted to fix her hair, its locks matted with icing and crumbs.

“Cornelius, see Primrose out!” The lady in the ostrich feather hat picked up her flamboyant headpiece which had fallen in the scuffle and affixed it to her bruised cranium. I placed my hand on her back and began escorting her from the room. As we began to enter into the hallway the plump woman called out to her departing guest.

“Ciao Primrose! Same time next week!”