A perfectly brewed cup of tea cannot fix all. Femma knew the truism; yet she found solace in the ritual. The water, bubbling up from the mineral springs, dipped into the kettle. Hotted further over a fire fueled by yew wood.

The tea ingredients carefully measured: sweet marjoram; fragrant lavender; rosemary; parsley; wild woodruff; sapphire corn flower; slender water herb. She rubbed some between her thin fingers to release their oils, increasing their potency; others she laid whole into the steeping pot.

Water, streaks of steam rising, carefully poured; lid fitted. Femma sat before the improvised tree stump table waiting for the tea to infuse.

As was custom at such times, she dwelt upon her memories; looking inward, backward. But this agone cast pushed her no further than the most recent images. Burnt up by fever; his cobalt eyes open but seeing only shadows and specters. She sat attendant at his side, sponging his forehead with cool water, lightly lilting comfort songs. She was no healer; she could only watch as his spark dwindled.

“Femma” he whispered so softly, through barely moving bluish lips, she almost ne’er caught the word. She tilted her head closer “Tears for the dead drown the living,” he murmured and departed from her.

The spring woods watched her solitude. So quiet, she could hear the collective sigh of new growth. Fern heads unfurl; bud casings crack open; the world in myriad shades of green.

When well-steeped, she poured the potent liquid into a chipped crockery cup. She held it up, in a salute of honour, to each of the four directions, then took a sip. “Tastes like life,” she thought, sensing bittersweet and honey upon her tongue.

Each action, from fetching the water to pouring the tea was accompanied by eld words, spoken softly, reverently. Ancient paean to the cycle of all things. For every death, a birth. For every birth, a death.

“So, no tears now, my love,” she whispered placing her hand upon her belly “The cycle will yet be.”

 

It took a week, but I found a story for May 15th’s Saturday Mix: same same but different, spurred on by slightly modifying First Line Friday’s “A perfectly brewed cup of tea can’t fix everything.”

The same same but different starting point words: go; here; then; lean; blue

feature image: clay pottery shop on esty.com