Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Cup and Saucer (08/28/14)
- TITLE: Coping With Coffee
By Joe Moreland
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June knew the mug in question very well. She had given it to the boy just a few weeks ago. It had been her therapist who suggested it.
“Whoever heard of a ten year old drinking coffee?” Had been her major complaint that day.
“Why does that bother you so much, June?”
The look she threw at the therapist was one children the world over flinched at reflexively; the good doctor felt a little shudder, but maintained his calm demeanor and waited for an answer.
“Because coffee is not good for a child.” The tone made it clear she felt she was talking to one now.
“But, I suspect it gives him something familiar. He is, after all, in a new environment. That can be scary.”
A very unladylike snort erupted from June. “That's what you figured out with your fancy degree? Let me tell you something—that boy knows he's welcome in our home. He gets three good meals a day, clean clothes to wear and a clean house and bed to sleep in every night. Have I told you what his situation was like?”
“Yes, June. You've told me. But, you also took him abruptly from the only world he ever knew. First his father, your brother, passed away, and, now, just a few years later, he didn't even get to say goodbye to his mom, correct?”
“She took him with her to a bar. They wouldn't let him in, so she told him to stay out front until she came out. After five hours, he finally walked home by himself. At two a.m., through the roughest neighborhood in the city! When we showed up it had been two days since he'd seen or heard from her. So, no, he didn't get to tell her goodbye.”
“I'm just saying that you should try to understand that this may be difficult for him. Maybe the coffee thing is something you can compromise on. Can he cut back?”
On the way home from that appointment, June stopped in a shop and picked up a small coffee cup she thought the boy might like. It had an etching of the Peanuts cartoon character, Snoopy. She remembered he liked Snoopy.
The cup was about half the size of a normal coffee mug. Being so small, of course, meant he filled it all the way to the top and dribbled coffee everywhere he took it. She tried to get him to use a saucer to catch what spilled, but he just couldn't seem to remember.
Finally she had restricted his coffee drinking to the kitchen only. This seemed to work every day except one. June slept in on Saturdays, and he just couldn't seem to stay in the kitchen during his ritual of Saturday morning cartoons. Now she had a ring to show for it.
Right on cue, the boy walked into the room, took in the situation and promptly hung his head.
“I'm sorry Aunt June.” Tears began to well up in his eyes and her heart began to thaw before she could get a single remonstrative word out.
“I just don't get it. Why do we go through this every Saturday?”
He shrugged his skinny shoulders. “Dad and me used to get up early every Saturday and watch cartoons and drink coffee. That and read the funny pages on Sunday were the only things we ever did together.”
The Sunday comics was his other weekly obsession. Now she understood.
“Well, just keep that mug off my furniture, or I'll be making you use a bowl for your coffee from now on.”
“Please don't take it away, Aunt June! That's my favorite thing in the whole world!”
“Nonsense! It's just a coffee mug.”
“But it's got Snoopy on it! That was our favorite comic, whenever Snoopy was in it, anyways. And...”
“'And'? Out with it boy. 'And' what?”
“And Dad would have really liked it.”
June turned and walked out of the room without another word.
It's been more than forty years and that coffee mug is still one of my most prized possessions.
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