If a person orders a small tea at the shop near the bus exchange, the guy with the orange Mohawk always says, “Medium is only 25¢ more.”
Danny always answers, “Make it a medium then” as if 25¢ is worth nothing at all.
When he does that on the day of the ultrasound, Kayley pokes him in the ribs. He ignores her, orders a slice of banana loaf, and settles himself at the table near the back.
“We’ve got a baby on the way,” she says, sliding in across from him.
He studies his phone and remains silent.
“We shouldn’t be having $2.00 cups of tea in the first place, let alone crap like $3.00 slices of cake. We need to save our money for bottles and formula.”
“Starting tomorrow,” he says and kisses her on the cheek.
Kayley takes Hunter to the tea shop to see his father. The marriage failed the test of children. Danny hasn’t seen either of them for years.
Six-year-old Hunter barely remembers his father but he skips along at Kayley’s side.
“A shop can’t just sell tea, can it? There’ll be other things, won’t there? Cakes and cookies?” Wistfulness colours his voice.
She tries to lower his expectations. “You know we don’t have money for stuff like that.”
She pushes open the door and sees Danny at the back, like always. In front of him is a cup of tea and three chocolate cupcakes. Kayley feels her mouth tighten into a frown. She warned him about Hunter’s allergies. She sighs at the thought of a night easing her son through joint aches and stomach pain.
When she stops at the counter, Orange Mohawk is still there. He has gone Rastafarian but she recognizes his deep blue eyes and wide smile.
“A cup of oolong, please. Small.”
He pushes a dreadlock behind an ear, revealing a row of diamond studs. “$2.75,” he says. “But medium is only 50¢ more.”
© Maggie Bolitho
Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Tea in different grades of fermentation by Haneburger