Tea with Mama
By Sean C. Wright-Neeley
It was always at about 2am in her dreams. The setting was always a Victorian tea room. Candelabra Jones entered the exquisite salon through a door from nowhere, glanced down at her tulle, floor-length gown, and made her way to the table. A huge bouquet of scarlet cabbage roses was the centerpiece, and a filigree tea service sat off to one side. Whoever created this dream setting thought of every detail. Candy could even smell the hot tea. The room also had undertones of vanilla. She folded her hands on the table, waiting for her mother.
Mama entered, right on cue in a flurry of orange and black. Her favorite holiday had been Halloween. She and Candy dressed up as famous black characters, every year. Mama had been Tina Turner one year; Candy, a Supreme. They had been Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Michelle Obama. Mama was fun, but firm in her guidance. She missed this woman who had birthed her, so dearly; a chocolate-skinned woman with a beautiful smile. The cancer had taken Candy’s mother in cruel, cumulative strokes. First the lungs. Then the bones.
“Mama!” Candy exclaimed when her mother sat at the ornate table.
“Hello, child!” she said, “It has been a while. What seems to be the problem?” These dreams were always therapeutic.
“Everything,” Candy replied, throwing up her hands.
“Now, baby. Every bad time ends,” she replied, pouring tea for two.
“I mean it, Mama. Things are bad. Robert and I are divorcing. I can’t deal with this without you.”
“You can. I raised you to be tough.” Her mother took a sip of her tea.
“Mama. I-I want to be with you. I seriously can’t do this.”
Her mother put down her teacup, and looked at her daughter with raised eyebrows.
“Don’t even think such a thing! It’s not time for you to come to my side yet.” She picked up her teacup, and took another sip before speaking. “Candy, I named you Candelabra because I knew you were something grand that lit up the room. You’ll get through this. I promise.”
The tears came. “But Mama, even the strongest of people need their mothers sometimes.”
Candy’s mother put down her teacup, and looked at her with soft eyes.
“You’re right. Tell you what. I’ll visit you outside of here, too, when things get rough. Don’t worry: I won’t be a ghost or anything.”
“How will I know it’s you, Mama?” Candy sniffled.
Her mother reached across the table, and lifted Candy’s chin. “I’ll be wearing orange and black. Now drink your tea. We don’t have much time.”
Candy woke up when she was halfway through her cup of cinnamon Earl Grey with her mother.
Candelabra Jones twisted her braids into a loose bun on top of her head, put on a sweat suit, and left her small apartment she had gotten since the separation. The morning wind was insistent. The sky was turquoise. The temperature was a biting forty-something degrees. Candy had walked two blocks when she stopped to retie her tennis shoe. Halfway through the motion, a monarch butterfly landed on her arm. She immediately felt warmth and strength rush through every artery. The gorgeous, painted creature seemed to sense it, for it clasped and spread its wings twice.
“Mama?” Candy whispered, transfixed. The orange and black insect fluttered away. Candelabra Jones stood up, and looked after it with misty eyes until she couldn’t see it anymore.
For more flash fiction by Sean C. Wright-Neeley, click here.
I’m pleased to announce the release of my 8th book, Skoll’s Diary.
Africans and African Americans left Earth in 1900, and went to another planet in The Milky Way to escape mistreatment…
It’s now the year 3005 on that terraformed planet. We get a peek into the life of a bright and sensitive teenaged boy, Skoll, through his journal. He loves his world, but is curious about life on Earth. Then suddenly, an epic event casts him in the middle of a difficult decision. The fate of the planet’s community is in his hands.
Get the book here. I’d appreciate your leaving a review if you read it. Thanks in advance!