Author : Hillary Lyon

Sheila opened the door to her grandmother’s house, flooding the dusty entryway with sunlight. She walked through the little house opening shutters and raising blinds. She put the fresh flowers she’d brought in a vase.

In the kitchen she washed two tea cups and their matching saucers. She rinsed a kettle, filled it and set it to boil. Sheila looked through the cupboards until she found a tin of oolong tea, her grandmother’s favorite. She also found the sugar bowl. From her bag, Sheila pulled a plastic container with the finger sandwiches she’d made that very morning.

Moving into the breakfast nook, Sheila arranged the setting for afternoon tea on the highly polished little table. Cups, tea, sugar, finger sandwiches. Curtains pulled back on a beautiful Spring day. Flowers from the garden in a hand-painted vase. Linen napkins. Sheila smiled.

From her bag, Sheila withdrew a small chrome box with a black button along one side and a gray glass lens on its top. She set the box down at her grandmother’s place at the table, pushed the black button and held it for three seconds. She closed her eyes.

When she opened them, her grandmother was smiling at her from across the table. She was wearing her Sunday best, with her hair styled for church. Just as Sheila remembered, her gran was wearing wire-rimmed glasses, and the cameo pin that Sheila had given her for her last birthday. The old lady motioned for Sheila to pour the tea.

“Tell me, dear,” her grandmother began in her soft, warm voice,”do you still enjoy your work? What are you reading these days? Are you still writing poetry? Oh, and are you still seeing that nice young man? I want to hear all about it!”

After first taking a sip of tea, Sheila launched into an account of her life so far. Periodically, her grandmother nodded, or inserted a question when there was a pause of more than 15 seconds. Several times, her gran offered up an amusing or poignant story from her own life.

As she spoke, Sheila nibbled at a finger sandwich, happily absorbed in her beloved’s gran’s reminiscences. In the pale blue light of her grandmother’s flickering hologram, Sheila’s world softened and became a sheltering space; a safe place, far from the noise and cold chaos that waited outside.

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