Hannah’s Tea Party

My heart sighed when she said she felt unwell. We both knew she wasn’t really and yet I also instinctively knew that, despite the call of my tax returns being due, she needed a break from school that day. We made an agreement: no school and Mummy needed to do her accounts.

I’m kneeling on the floor of my home office, back aching, receipts and banks statements strewn across every corner of the floor. I breathe heavily and look up. She is quietly standing in the doorway in a floor length blue party dress that used to belong to her sister, with a white fur stole around her shoulders and a bow tied in her hair. She silently passes me an envelope that is neatly inscribed in perfect purple handwriting “Best Mummy in the World” and mysteriously leaves the room.

I open my envelope and take out an invitation neatly written on pink card:

What: Tea Party

When: Now

Where: Hannah’s room

PS Wear a Dress

I look at the papers around the room, hear my accountant’s deadline in my ear and stand up. I go to my bedroom and put on a feather boa and Santa hat and go upstairs to her room. The door is shut. I knock.

She opens the door and curtseys. “Welcome” she says in the voice we usually reserve for our imaginary resident Butler. Laid out on the floor of her unusually pristine room is a miniature tea set on the rug. It is laid for 4 people and a place name has been written for each setting. Two teddies adorned with bracelets and necklaces have already taken their seat. I sit down and join the party.

The centre-piece includes a candle and a circle of crystals interspersed with Oreo cookies. I resist asking where she got the cookies from and instead marvel at how what she has laid out resembles a shamanic offering. She pours out water from the miniature tea pot into my cup no bigger than a large thimble. We clink cups and she offers me some imaginary sugar from the pea sized sugar bowl.

She lifts an Oreo to her mouth and with every brown crumb accumulating around her mouth I love her more.  I take in her face as she chats away and can barley contain the tenderness I feel for the immeasurable sweetness of her heart.

“Could anyone be more beautiful than you in that blue dress?” I ask.

“I like your feather boa” she says in return.

We stay still on the pink and white dotted rug looking at the remains of the tea party. “I think this may be the nicest tea party I’ve eve been to” I say, almost choking on the words. She smiles gently at me. “Is doing ‘Counts really nasty” she asks. “I thought so”, she adds when I nod.

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