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Tèa

by SunnyHeart27


Spring evening, cool and deep blue, had settled, extending tentative tendrils of dusk upon the small town of Anytown. Blurred orange of sodium streetlights had begun to glow and though it hardly seemed dark, the five young men clustered on Main Street found it difficult to discern more than outlines of each other. They sauntered, almost as one through the town they knew as their own, like a moving shadow, part of the tranquil urban landscape of just before dark. It was their time, this moment of indecisive dark brightness, between summer and winter, between day and night. The younger ones had grown tired or hungry or cold or scared and they were all inside now, behind brightly lit windows, on shiny games consoles, with mum’s fussing over their dinners. The adults, fresh from the dole queue that morning with their weekly payments in hand were yet to venture out to the assortment of shady establishment around town. They were new and reluctant to the unwanted luxury of weeknight drinking and few had the audacity to waste away their afternoons that way. The plan was that of a typical evening: to walk the few streets from the abandoned playground by the river where they skulked with hoods up, smoking through the surprising, oppressive heat of the afternoon to Jimmy, the local dealer’s house. They scored whatever he had, for whatever they had. Then, the sauntering back down town, to the house they found least supervised of theirs, and waste away the night in the bedroom, testing the merchandise and having opiate-induced epiphanies while staring out the lace curtains into the indiscernible night.

This evening, however, their usually uninterrupted pilgrimage was disturbed by the arrival of a girl. She was a pixie of a girl, but stretched long and peaky, with odd, large black eyes that glittered in the darkness. Her jeans were tight to her straight, coltish legs and her baggy Ramones t-shirt was partly obscured by her tight black hoodie and lengths and lengths of tumbling dark hair. In the swiftly falling gloom, they hardly would’ve noticed her, had she not stepped right in front of them, combat boots clicking on the pavement as she placed herself directly in their path. Five of them, each alerted to her presence later than the other, stumbled to a halt. The peaceful silence of their evening streets had become horribly bloated with the tension of expectation. Someone had to step up to this interloper, but no one knew quite how. If not in the usual aggressive, territorial manner used on boys of her nomadic ilk, then how? It was time for the shadow to be identified, with a leader, a spokesperson, and now he emerged from the darkness of their closeness, flipping down his hood with practised nonchalance. He had a bright, white grin that recalled the days of the elegant criminal, the violent but dignified vogue, a head of neat cornrows and a diamond glinted in his left ear.

“I’m Jake, what do you want?”

He was bordering on the painfully unreadable, not rude, but not courteous either. She didn’t fall for it, like the other girls, in their bright clothes, giggling on the swings in the park, their sparkling eye make-up glittering in the sun as they tried to like his music. She spoke in the same nonplussed tones,

“Tèa, and whatever you guys are getting will be fine.”

He laughed without the slightest hint of laughter, smiled with all his heart and held her hand. The shadow had become another entity, a leaderless followership and it followed them to Jimmy’s and later to Jake’s house in one of the many estates outside town. At the door, came the schism.

“See ya later, guys.”

Four words distanced him from the boys he’d spent all his youth loyally dedicated to, but only for the night. From then on, another time existed for the shadow, a time which was no longer to be spent wasted together. The evenings that were once theirs are now the point at which they disintegrate. Their nights are wasted on a fate more dangerous than simple small town drugs would ever prove to be: love.

Jake remembers that night as the night he stopped wanting to get high, at all, ever. She was like the elusive high he’d been searching for, in all the pointy angles of her pale, bruised body, in all the jagged edges of her personality, the mysterious details buried deep within her. They spent their time in silence, at first smoking shit together, but gradually doing less and less, and apart from leaving the house for those requisite evening meccas, they ceased leaving the house. The silence of awkward teenage drug use gave way to constant teasing, then deep discussion, and then silence again, as each revealed their equally derelict forms to the other, trembling and unable to make eye contact in the tiny bedroom.

Tèa is now a bundle of memories. She is a clutch of papers held together by a worn elastic band, she is handful of shells amid the sandy debris of your jeans pocket, she is the moment you look up, in the middle of an ordinary day to find an extraordinary memory tearing up your vision, ripping open your heart to feelings you thought you’d forgotten.

Here is Tèa, tiny thin and wild, like a dog from the city, starving and rabid, but with sad eyes that make you want to feed it. She is cold fingers along his back while the sun shined through the curtains, that first morning. She is a weight on his body as they lay on his bed, just undressed, and talking. She is bright, dark eyes, glittering in laughter and weighed down with heavy, grey teardrops. She is small warm hands against the cold, tiny footprints beside his in the snow.

She is this crazy warmth, this fullness the shadow used to mean, but doesn’t anymore. Like she made the space in him bigger, so no one but her could fill it, then just walked out of it, leaving him with a void he was incapable of filling. That’s what love is. A stretched for our emptiness, by filling it, we risk further pain when the fullness goes away.

She disappeared when the shadow started complaining about her taking up his time, and Jimmy wanted payment for all the things he’d asked them to “test” and everything in general had started going to disrepair without Jake, as a leader, making sure it didn’t.

But Tèa was not only half a year of warmth where there is now only an empty place of torn memories and broken promises. She has lasted for longer, through every other relationship. She lives in his emptiness, and even when he is full, full of love, and full of drugs and full of the shadow, she lingers still. She is in the sad songs, and the soppy TV movies his mum watches on Sunday afternoons, and the smell, and the silence of freshly fallen snow. She lives in him, and though all that represents Tèa now in Jake are endless tears, he is still glad she is there. He still can’t imagine living without her.

Then, a motorbike incident two towns over. The plume of orange flame, just like the streetlights that first night, bursting through an indigo night, the grey smoke distorting the stars. Jake watched from his car, arm hanging out the half-opened window, fag dangling from his fingers. The explosion jolted him into wakefulness with the image of her perfect eyes closed to life forever, etched and burning on his brain.

He says the dream was the first time he thought of ever finding her again, but Tèa had always assumed it would be the first thing that he would do. She had run away, scared of him, scared of herself, scared of happiness, scared of emptiness, and mostly scared by how the fullness in her middle wasn’t just a metaphor anymore, but a tragic end to the only love her whole barren existence. She swallowed gallons of Pennyroyal tea, and the threat disappeared, but not before it had dragged her from Anytown, to two towns over with the emptiness like a hidden abortion scar she never needed.

The first month was hell, and doubt made her seek out rides to Anytown every few evenings for the first fortnight. The lifts were garnered from more helpful street boys with nothing but time and a rusty Ford on their hands. Sammy was the one she stole from their shadow pack but she stole only little bits of him, dirty jokes, a spare cigarette and rides everywhere. This is all he remembers of the dark pixie who spent those few months with him.

By the time Jake went looking, Tèa was bumming with girlfriends, chain smoking and getting in fights as often as she could. She thought it filled the emptiness with darkness, like nicotine does at first. Anger screamed through her, drowning out the memories. Two months of this passed, and in the meantime, Sammy got a motorbike.

It was another spring evening, the same softly falling night, filling the air with tender fragrance of drooping flowers and cut lawns and beer. She stood on the curb, her eyes dark and dulled with misery and smoke.

“I don’t want to.” Her shoulders hunched, lips tightened.

Sammy in turn laughed and called her a coward and had cajoled her onto the back seat, was in fact fishing out his spare helmet, by the time they both turned to see his car rolling down the road, windows down, smoke floating up over the roof, into the violet night. He stopped just by them and got out.

His slouch was exaggerated, his eyes hooded, his hood pulled low over a face full of pain. He looked up at her, and as the blow of a thousand memories that her physical presence was hit him, the blow of his months of sadness hit her. He stepped towards her, eyes never even flickering in their intense set on hers. Each step takes a hundred years, four excruciating heartbeats, four moments for two people, which are the most empty and most full and most doubtful and most certain moments of their entire lives.

“Are you coming?” He sounds so much like he doesn’t give a damn that you could laugh. A whole intense new world of pain, a whole new language of aching and torment and hollowness and desolation and so many tears he didn’t know he had, and now this this voice is co composed that it’s a small miracle, such a huge and masterful deception, in only three words. It’s not like three words haven’t been the biggest of lies before, but this time it’s different. Tèa has been waiting, and she is ready. She has already known this would happen, she knows they will drive home and drink and smoke and make love in the grimy bathtub and she knows that in the morning they will make plans, so many plans, with this whole new life they thought had lost. The world is theirs, because they thought it was gone forever. The waves are crashing for them, the stars are shining for them, the whole earth spins on an axis of their entwined souls. And she knows that these plans will come to nothing, she also knows their one secret unsaid and unwritten plan will be the only one followed through on. They plan never to return to emptiness. They plan to fill each other until the waves stop crashing the stars stop shining and the earth stops turning. This is the natural thing.

That night the shadow is leaderless once again. They make the evening pilgrimage alone, and each feels more uneasy than the other. They get high and forget these unspoken feelings, until each thinks he was the only one who felt plumes of fire, and harsh smoke, and eyes closed forever in his ice cold veins that night. Tèa left a little emptiness in everyone she had known after that, and the shadow fell apart because the emptiness of a leaderless forever. But even as the plume of orange fire, and the heaving grey fire and the great, big emptiness of all the people they left behind swallows Tèa and Jake, they are smiling and they are full. The world is just beginning, the waves are crashing, the stars are shining and the earth is turning just for them, and they will never feel the emptiness, not ever again.


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Mon Aug 22, 2011 7:06 pm
SunnyHeart27 says...



Thanks so much for the reviews guys :3

It's called "Tèa" as that is the name of the main character, it's a Yugoslavian name :)

I will definitely need to go through the punctuation! Thanks for pointing this out :)

That paragraph definitely needs editing, I'm confused about it myself on re-reading :P

Jake is fine, I think the point I meant to make was that whatever happened, both had found happiness by returning to each other ^_^

I will for sure include a bit about Sammy's ending in the edit, thanks for pointing out the need for it :)




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Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:00 am
Vapor wrote a review...



This is absolutely beautiful! The imagery and detail is astounding. I really do love this nice short story, but I also feel a little confused.

There's a lot left up to the imagination in some parts, like how Tea's body is bruised. Why? (I also want to say I hope you don't mind I call her Tea in my reply)

Sammy in turn laughed and called her a coward and had cajoled her onto the back seat, was in fact fishing out his spare helmet, by the time they both turned to see his car rolling down the road, windows down, smoke floating up over the roof, into the violet night. He stopped just by them and got out

My only complaint about this part is the constant pronoun "his" and "he" used for Jake when they could easily be mistaken for Sammy. I know that you say him and he for a more romantic effect, I do it too, but in this case I think Jake's name has to be inserted somewhere.

Is Jake injured any in the crash? It does say something of pain, but they go home and everything is as it was again, so he's okay then?

And what will happen to Sammy? Jake comes back to Tea and then they go home. But what about Sammy?

Alright, that's all I have to bug you about. Good job. :)




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Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:55 am
sienna wrote a review...



This is a really great story i like this a lot the characters are so well detailed i like the main character the story is very understandable. i hope to see more of this story. I did spot a couple puncation errors though just a couple commas there and a period here no biggy please keep writing your story! XD




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Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:03 am
Preachergirl18 says...



1. why is it called tea?





If you want something badly, you just gotta believe it's gonna work out.
— Andy, Parks & Rec