Birthday cups

It is morning and I move around the kitchen with the pale, lukewarm sun sitting hesitantly beyond the window. I take down a tea cup without its saucer and think about where it came from. A birthday gift of little sense because I don’t drink much tea and don’t really have an eye for nice crockery. But the shop where it was bought was walking distance from his office and he’d have been able to pop out at lunch time, quickly, grab a sushi roll and his dry-cleaned shirts and a present, sitting on the sale table in front of the shop.

The cup’s design is twee and too many young people work nearby the shop for it to have been a popular purchase. The cup would have sold better at a department store where the grey-haired, pearled set usually shop because it’s quiet and the music is unobtrusive.

The cups wrapped nicely. Their odd shape inviting beneath the clean, white wrapping paper. Funny, that after all of these years in between and without him, these cups have kept. They have survived. Followed me, unbroken, relentlessly and unforgiving. Reminding me that the choice I made to leave was the right one and to let me know on a strange but daily basis, as I open the cupboards, that there are no regrets.

I’m not so sure about that. About no regrets. But I am reminded of him every time I take one of the cups down from the cupboard above the sink, preparing tea for my mother-in-law. Yes, I think of him. I think how he would have appreciated the cups but how now my husband does not notice them tucked amongst the odds and ends of other cups.

In fact, had my husband noticed them he would have thrown them out. Just the two cups with their saucers. To him, this odd pair is clutter. And this house in which we live is clean and white and a bit stiff but without clutter. In our house there is little sign of two small children. Aside from Callum’s room, proving the point he really is just like me. He has an abandon about things and seems perfectly at ease amongst his own chaos. He enters his newly cleaned room removing odd books and figurines from the shelves, to give the room life or perhaps for inspiration for the next game although he always, always returns to the trains.

Callum likes the cups. He likes sipping tea from the cups. A splash of tea with milk. When she’s here, he likes to sit with my mother in law and I having tea.

Recently, when I sat with him outside a café in winter, I told him I had a son named Callum and he reminded me that it was his grandfather’s name. I had forgotten.

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