A Cup of Peppermint Tea

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Contributor: Arlene Antoinette

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All cried out, we stood in a semi-circle
around mother’s hospital bed. Aunt
Lizzy and Uncle George with heads bowed, my
sister and I held hands; my father cradled
mom as she drew her last breath. Heartbreak
made statues of us, each one afraid to move
and disturb the stillness of her passing.

Documents signed, basic arrangements made,
we walked to the car; zombies dressed in our
Sunday best. The quiet of nature causing the weight
of the moment to almost break shoulders and wills.
Distant now the memories of earlier today
when we gathered in the kitchen, a surprise birthday
brunch in honor of my uncle.

It took twenty minutes for dad to start
the car, my sister and I almost leaping out
of our seats, shocked by the sudden roar of the
engine breaking through thoughts and tears.
On the radio, Billy Joel sang out that only the good
die young. No one had the strength to reach
out and change the station or maybe the sudden
truth of the lyrics rendered us paralyzed.
The ride home was a practice in endurance;
screams and moaning withheld.

Entering the house, mom called out to us from
every room: Her rose print scarf carelessly
dropped on the living room sofa. Her Italian
sandals with the broken strap, wedged between
the china cabinet and grand-father clock. In
the kitchen a checkered teacup still held half
a cup of her favorite peppermint tea.

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Arlene writes poetry, flash fiction and song lyrics. She writes while looking out onto a backyard garden which she is growing very fond of.


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