Click, hiss, click, hiss. The toaster clicks and clutches the cinnamon toast, and the kettle hisses. I warm the pot and find the linen cloth for the tray.
Thud, thud. A tennis ball striking the wall on the old tennis court in the backyard. My son Jacob is practicing his backhand. A dozen or more thuds. I smile. A long rally will make him happy.
Tick, tick. The clock warns me that I have three minutes before I’m due upstairs. My father, Isaac Stephens, retired thespian, is a stickler for punctuality. If you miss your cue, you lose your audience and lose the part. Being late for tea will hardly ruin his career. Not now. But given our common knowledge of how lateness jangles his nerves, any dawdling of mine will be interpreted as a lack of care, a desire to rub his nose in his weakness.