Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 26

26 | Psychopomp Magazine

the door staring through the small peephole, looking into the white circle. It was broken anyway, probably cracked somehow by the cold, but she could see if a figure was at the doorway—anything on the porch made a blurry grey smudge against the white.

She stepped away from the door. No sense waiting there, getting in the way if the older brother had to rush in with the younger slung over his shoulder, crying, maybe bleeding.

She pulled down the newly washed teapot and filled it with tap water. She took her most delicate tea-cup, a cup so small and impractical that she rarely took it from the shelf, and set a tea bag inside of it. The tea smelled like oranges and vanilla and had the word “calm” in the title. She laughed; as if tea could make a person calm.

As the teapot’s whistle grew louder, the Mother listened for the sound of the bear. She heard nothing.

Mommy! I'm wearing this big shirt! The little brother ran from the hallway and collapsed in her lap, swaddled in fabric. The older brothers' sweatshirt had a cartoon devil on the front, something about a sports team.

Where have you been? She shouted in the boy's face, shaking him, her hands tight around his wiry upper arms. Where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you! She held the boy’s flesh so tightly that he tried to twist and wiggle away from her.

His eyes filled with water. The water spilled down the lush slide of his lashes.

Don’t yell at me, he said and began to cry in earnest, in hiccups. I wanted to surprise you.

But where were you? she asked. Why did you hide? The boy didn’t answer. He pressed his wet face into her lap. The teakettle screamed on the bright red burner.

Let Mommy get her tea, she said. The Mother rose, her hands shaking, and poured the tea into the tiny cup. Only a couple of mouthfuls. The water was too hot—it would make the tea bitter. She bobbed the bag absently and listened to the outdoors. It had been fifteen, no, twenty, minutes.

Where’s brother? The small boy ran a small plastic car along the edge of a chair and sniffled away the last of his tears.

He went outside for a while, the Mother said.

She finished her cup of tea, squeezing the bag into the cup to finish the last dregs. A half an hour.