A story of daily life and little happenings


She sits and contemplates, about everything and nothing in particular. Looking out the window of the quaint tea shop, she watches as people mingle amongst each other; some walking leisurely whilst enjoying a perfectly sunny day, some rushing hurriedly with the phone pressed against their ears, and some just stand still watching the throng of people around them.

She puts a knuckle under her chin, head tilting, and continues to observe, pen in hand tapping against the wooden table rhythmically.

Just in front of the window, there is a family of three: a grandmother, a mother, and her daughter. Strolling along the cobblestone pavement, they seem to be having a jovial conversation. She smiles, an indulging and pleased little quirk of the lips. Then, the little daughter trips, falling on her knees with both hands against the ground. The poor girl starts to cry, and the mother pulls her up by the arm. They continue their walk, the adults keep on chatting casually, and the young lass follows behind, tears have not stopped and her knees lined with bleeding scratches.

Still observing, her soft smile is replaced by that of an ironic curve.

Momentarily turning to the pages of her tattered leather journal, she scribbles down unintelligible notes. Putting the fountain pen in the middle of the page, she reaches out and picks up her cooling cup of tea. Delicately and gracefully, she brings the cup to her mouth, relishing the aromatic scent of roses whilst sipping the hot liquid with appreciation. With the cup still against her lips, she peers out the window again over its intricate rim.

She focuses her attention on the Victorian church just right across the street where the tea shop is. Its grand gate is opened, welcoming visitors. Walking over the threshold, coming out is a middle-aged man, modest and humble in his tweed waistcoat and beret. Following right behind him is the Father of the church, a kind, proud smile stretched across his slightly round face with a hand on the man’s shoulder. The man returns the smile, head nodding and hand shaking, apparently saying his goodbye. It seems the man has done some incredible deed for the church, such as regularly donating. Taking another silent sip, her eyes do not leave the man. He struts away from the church after the Father has disappeared inside, pride in the shadow of his figure.

From an alleyway next to the extravagant architecture, a little boy-man comes out running after him. The boy-man approaches the man with his suitcase. The man does not notice him until he tugs lightly on his sleeve. Jolted from the tug, the man yanks his arm away, turning to face the boy with face an angry shade of red. He points to his arm where the boy touched and opens his mouth. It appears as though he is yelling at the boy-man, whose head hangs before many of the watching eyes. The boy says nothing. Then the humble-looking middle-aged man stops, out of breath from the shouting, and stomps away, leaving the boy following with humiliation squashing his spine.

She turns away from the window, sharp eyes gleaming. One of her hands holds the teacup cautiously, the other pressing the pen upon the pages. Her pen pauses every now and then as she looks skyward pensively in between her scribbling. Then she comes to a full stop, resting the pen where she left it before. She resumes nursing her warm tea and stares out the window again, searching for interesting events until her eyes rest upon the street facing the shop.

On the street is an expensive sports car, sleek and brand new by the look of it. Just like her, many stop to admire its shiny exterior. The owner, a young man not a day over twenty two, is too busy texting on his phone to notice any of the inquisitive gaze. Donned in a bespoke dark suit, the man looks important and ready to attend a business assembly. Suddenly he is startled by a loud screech just outside his tinted window. An adolescent boy has accidentally left a gash on the car when he lost control of his skateboard. People are seemingly nervous when the young man gets out of his car and inspects the gash without looking at the boy once. The lad, dressed in all black and spikes, looks all tense and taut, defensive stance in place. Then he suddenly begins to apologise, judging by his furious bowing. The man says nothing, and he lifts his hand up, then bringing it down in fast motion. He heartily pats the boy in a reassuring manner. He smiles, one hand waving dismissively, and the boy’s face brightens. One last bow and the lad is gone, whilst the young man gets back in his car with a slight shake of his head.

Still holding the cup, she chuckles, shoulders quivering ever so lightly. With an amused expression, she puts her tea down and takes her pen, once more noting things in small cursive strokes.

Engrossed in her writing, she is shaken out of her trance by the sound of the bell at the entrance of the tea house. In walks two young ladies just about eighteen or a bit less, somehow out of place in this old structure. One is dressed elegantly in a knee-length white skirt and a maroon ruffled blouse, feet adorned with a pair of low-heeled Oxford. The other’s attire is simpler but just as well-coordinated: a navy shirt, tucked in a pair of white jeans, and flat pumps. A fine air of sophistication and superiority surrounds them. After they have made their order, the two sit together at a table outside the shop, just near where she is seated inside. She continues her curious survey as the girls engage in a calm conversation.

Then appears an old lady, looking more than worse-for-wear in her yellowed shirt, ripped trousers and mismatched slippers. She is holding out a faded green cap, asking for change presumably. It seems she does not smell too great, as the wealthier guests of the tea shop cover their noses and shoo the old lady away.

Settling comfortably in her large armchair inside, her lips lift in an almost inconspicuous smirk, her eyes not leaving what is happening outside.

The old lady is still being spurned by the shop’s patrons, her eyes a shade of morose and jaded foggy brown. As the elder walks on, behind her ridiculing, mocking eyes follow her every step. Her curved back speaks of her awareness of such looks. And now she is approaching the previous two young ladies.

Pulling up in an upright posture, she laces both hands under her chin and watches with interest. What will the young ladies do?

As predicted, the elderly lady stops at the table and extends the hand with the worn cap out, asking for spare change. The two girls stare at the woman in front of them, exchanging quiet glances with one another. The old lady’s hand is visibly trembling, her eyes brimming with apprehension and anxiety. One of the girls, the one in the skirt, abruptly stands up, moving confidently towards the elderly. The poor old woman takes a shaky step back, arm retracted in fear. Then that young lady reaches out to take the woman’s hand in hers. Smiling softly, she guides her to their table, her friend already pulling out a chair waiting. With the gentle hands of a daughter, they sit the old lady down, whose eyes are wide in shock, mouth agape, stunned and somehow amazed. The other guests turn away in…what? Shame? Condescension? Or apathy?

Now sipping on her tea, her small smirk has shifted into a little grin, white teeth glinting with hidden glee. She does not open the journal this time, opting to make mental notes instead. Fingers wrapped securely around the cup, she hums a happy tune.


Originally posted on Wonders About Writing.

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Published by Mary Thuy Tien - Wonders About Writing