This story is by Sandra Gharabaghli and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
A Fortuitous Cup of Tea ©
Her agitation matched the night’s mood. She felt edgy and out of sorts. All week she had felt impatient with others and that was unlike her. The roiling clouds mirrored her angst. It was a dark and stormy night and the thunder clapped loudly in the night sky. The young woman made a detour into an old stone church where she lit a vigil light in a ruby glass votive, illuminating the gloom. Rose was beautiful with black hair and sparkling eyes which reflected the candlelight. She bowed her head and said a few heartfelt prayers and leaving, hurried on her way. It was bitterly cold and dreary, and she decided that she would stop and get a cup of tea at a small café on her way home. The warmth of the café embraced her like an old friend. She found a table for two in a secluded corner and removed her coat and scarf, placing it on her chair. The café was bustling tonight, and the tables were all full. As she was waiting for the waitress, she spied an old woman all alone and bundled against the cold, just entering the café. She didn’t know why she did it, but the young woman stood up and asked the older woman if she would like to join her.
The woman with riveting dark eyes and silver hair graciously thanked her and accompanied her to the table. “It is very kind of you to share your table with me. I greatly appreciate it.”
The young lady introduced herself as Rose and the older woman said her name was Anna. Rose asked Anna what she would like to eat or drink, and Anna replied, “A cup of tea will warm me up, thank you.” A few moments later the waitress came over and took their order for two teas and a bowl of soup for Anna, that Rose insisted that she have.
“Do you live in the city Anna?” Anna replied that she did, but she had never stopped at this café before. Rose told her, “They have delicious soup and serve it with homemade warm bread. It will help you stay warm after your cup of tea.” The tea arrived and they continued chatting about the weather this evening.
“Do you mind if I ask you a personal question? Asked Anna.
“No,“ replied Rose, a little puzzled.
“I don’t know you, but I have this very strong feeling that you are worried about something.”
“Yes,” replied Rose, incredulous. “How do you know?”
“It is just a very strong feeling that I have. I feel like you have a momentous decision to make, and you are feeling torn apart. Maybe I am just a foolish old woman feeling fanciful on this cold, dark night?” She said as she sipped her tea.
“Yes, you are right, and I do feel torn. I have two boyfriends and I don’t know who to marry. Both have become very serious about our relationship and have made hints about our future lives together- but I don’t know what to do. I love them both, but in different ways. My family thinks I should marry Gene who is outgoing, fun, and wealthy. But I’m not sure. We have a great time when we are together, and he enjoys buying me gifts.”
The waitress brought a bowl of soup to Anna with a basket of warm and crusty French bread with butter pats in a dish. Anna sipped her flavorful soup thoughtfully as Rose unburdened herself. “Who is the other one?” she asked.
“Steve is fun and thoughtful. He’s more serious than Gene and is a gifted teacher and very patient with the kids. He would make a great father someday. We have this deep connection and enjoy some of the same things that I do. He is not as wealthy as Gene, but he shows me he loves me in so many ways and makes me feel cherished. You know– truly special. I don’t know what to do and I don’t want to disappoint my family.”
Listening intently to Rose and searching her expressions when she described each of the men, Anna said to Rose, “Search your heart and first picture your life without Gene and how you would feel. Next, close your eyes and look into the future and see what your life might be like with Gene, with a family, and as you age. What do you see and how do you feel? Money and wealth can be squandered or lost. Gene may have charmed your family, but it takes more than charm for a happy and fulfilling marriage. It is the true character of the person that is most important.”
After a few moments Anna said, “Now think about what your life without Steve would look like and how you feel without him in your life. Take a moment to really explore your feelings. Next, think about the future, close your eyes and envision and what is possible with a life with Steve, with a family, and as you grow old together. What do you see and how do you feel with Steve by your side?”
Anna heard Rose gasp, “Thank you! I feel like it is clear to me, and I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel so free compared to before. It is amazing! I have been so worried thinking about the future and not knowing who to choose and I want to be ready when they ask me. I know it is going to happen soon. But how did you know?”
“You knew it already- the truth and depth of your feelings were already in your heart. Marry for true love and you will live happily ever after,” Anna prophesized. She finished her soup and bread and tried to pay for their teas and dinner.
“Thank you for helping me. Treating you to a little soup and tea is the least I can do!
I hope you will join me again here in the future when the weather is not so blustery outside, and I can treat you to a proper dinner and more of their magical tea!”
Anna replied, “I would enjoy that very much and look forward to seeing you again when you are married with your children.”
In the sanctuary of the old stone church, Rose had sought solace from her tumultuous feelings and worries. She had prayed to God for a sign of what she should do. God had answered her prayers and sent her an angel in the form of this kind and wise woman. It was a fortuitous cup of tea she had shared. Her kindness to the old woman had been returned a thousand-fold. She couldn’t wait to tell Steve!