Tea and Biscuits


I knew a lady , old  and  proud. Money was in short supply but from her dress and demeanor that would never show.  She never  complained . She had little but   her privacy and  guarded it closely. What her life had been and what it held was never disclosed. She saw no need to comment and everything about her said “Don’t touch”.  If I saw her, business only, tea was  offered in china cups and saucers but no biscuits. Seen in the street she would tip her head slightly but avoid all conversation. What lead her to that place I will never know. Had there been love or tragedy. I will never know. She never discussed her past. Pride kept her going . Like an iceberg only the tip was showing but she was not innately cold: only closed. But over time by not making any fuss I gained slight entrance to her world. She went to church but nothing more was said.  A biscuit appeared beside the tea. A daughter was mentioned but not in any detail. Her gaze became more quizzical but she never asked a question except about business. Her flat was tidy and uncluttered as you might expect, free of photographs or pictures in the main.

One day I had some music playing in my car. I loved the tune and hummed it as I drove. Felt it lift me from the everyday and gain that brief suspension we call peace. All to soon I had to stop park, but lost in thought I  hummed it as I walked. Her door swiftly opened as I knocked, catching me still humming the refrain. A faint expression passed across her face as she stepped aside to let me in her house. “You like music” she asked  as we sat down. “Yes, very much it’s one of my abiding passion”. She nodded and smiled a little bit, before she got her file from the desk. Tea was made and biscuits soon appeared. She looked at me and I felt an honoured guest. Things droned on and I made several notes and soon we were finished for the day. As I rose to go she said. “I’ve got something you might like”. I was surprised, of course, but just said. “Oh, that’s nice” and briefly she vanished from the room.

Returning she held a picture in her hand. She offered it to me but nothing more was said. Looking  I saw an old photograph black and white. It was a women dancing on a stage.  One arm raised and held above her face: she  looked quite beautiful. slim and full of grace.  I raised my eyes and saw her looking straight at me. “I was a ballet dancer in my youth.”. With that she grasped the album from my hand. Opened the door and stepped back to let me pass. “Thankyou” I said .” Thankyou” I said and left

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in childhood, creative writing, Fiction, old age, Relationships, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Tea and Biscuits

  1. Abby says:

    You can never know about a person or their past until they choose to reveal it to you, eh? Some of the best stories out there remain untold, held on to by authors who cherish their past as it was, not as others many interpret it to be…

    Like

  2. catterel says:

    We tend not to look at elderly people as real persons, just seeing them as they appear now and it comes as a shock when you discover an exciting or colourful past. That devalues them. I love this piece – thanks!

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  3. That will be us all one day, won’t it? Good to keep that in mind; this piece reminds us well. Nicely done.

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  4. babs50nfab says:

    I may be heading in that direction myself. Sometimes there’s too much past and you don’t know where to start, or who would care, anyway.
    b

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  5. Al says:

    I suspect music has emancipated many a reclusive soul. By way of example, you might want to steer clear of any nearby room when I am in the shower.

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  6. renxkyoko says:

    Why is the narrator seeing the old lady anyway?

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  7. nelle says:

    Oh, the conversation to have. And really, the stories out there are endless, only unknown to us.

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  8. jacquelinehanginginthere says:

    What a very special moment to cherish, thank you for sharing this memory. It lifted my heart.

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  9. If that picture could talk I bet it would be full of music or words. We never know the full story behind anyone – sometimes we can only guess.

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  10. Kirri White says:

    I feel like I have written this story, or something very simliar before? Am I right or am I having some kind of mystery de ja vu?!

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  11. Shonnie says:

    Lovely tale of gentle connection

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  12. winsomebella says:

    We never know, we never know :-). Lovely, again!

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  13. Judith says:

    Oh Peter what a lovely post. Aren’t we especially blessed when somebody let’s us into their life if only a little way. Will we hear more of this lady? 🙂

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  14. I enjoyed the slow build, the sense that something was coming, but not what. Good handling of suspense. As I then sat and thought about it, I realisedI wanted to know more visuals – what the narrator noticed of the old lady. The narrator’s thoughts are really well crafted, it would be easy to use that measured tone to create an image. Thanks for drawing me in and really making me think. I always enjoy my visits here!

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  15. Your character development is brilliant, Peter. Each of these pieces could be the foundation for (or included in) a novel. 🙂

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  16. Purely.. Kay says:

    I love how you bring characters together. I really do. Whether they are struggling with something, or the way each one interacts with each other gently. Beautiful

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  17. Lovely. There is a cadence to your writing that reminds me of Jim Crace’s work. Have you read any of his novels? Particularly, “Being Dead.”

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  18. Pastoral visiting was once part of my work. Getting alongside people draws out what is inside them thus relieving loneliness. Some said little, but most couldn’t stop the flood of words. Almost always there was a cup of tea in a china cup.

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  19. Peter,
    send your telephone number to my email: siammuse@msn.com
    I can call say hi when I’m there…We are staying at 111 copers cope road.

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  20. elizfrat says:

    Nicely done. I enjoyed the way small things were revealed and built on and the pacing of the story. Both characters are interesting. A lovely gentle story 🙂

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  21. For some reason this story brought a tear to my eye. Gently and well told. Glad you stopped by my blog so I had the privilege of finding yours!

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  22. RM says:

    FROM A new visitor: I love your stories. Inspiring.

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  23. Hi Countingducks! This was a great read. I was really drawn into this story. Very powerful, very inspiring! As one of my writing instructors always say – keep going. And thank you greatly for the visit.

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  24. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    This is great. Love it. I can so SEE that woman, proud, and in a b/w photo, a dancer. You describe well – I like your writing.

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  25. It’s always fascinating to discover hidden facets of people.

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  26. Jane Thorne says:

    Everyone has a story and you told this one beautifully Ducky 🙂

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  27. A vivid and at the same time introspective piece. It reminds us to not judge by appearances and that we all have a tale to tell, if we can only feel secure enough to gift others with our trust.

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  28. cmwriter says:

    This is lovely. We all have stature and worth.

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  29. Jen says:

    My mother in law is a former ballet dancer and though she is not exactly the way you describe the woman in your story, I can almost picture this being my mother in law in very old age. I am so drawn by and haunted by older people … and the pasts hardly anyone remembers but them,

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  30. These are where the stories are – behind the assumptions of age, appearance, financial status, etc. etc. etc. It doesn’t surprise me that the door to this old woman’s past opened up to you! The Universe knows who it’s speaking to!

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  31. Hi Counting Ducks – I think your name is Peter from some of the comments I’ve been reading…I am intrigued by your postings and shall follow you now I have found you… tea and biscuits eh? the quintessential English thing to offer and the best biscuits for the people you like the most!
    Thank you for coming to read my blog – I’m not a creative writer but I do like what you write. 🙂

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  32. The loneliness of age is a really sad thing.

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  33. dtrichards says:

    A very sweet story! I liked the keenly observed details, such as china and the biscuits. People often show their growing trust through such simple actions.

    I also loved the phrase “She had little but her privacy” — six words of English but thousands of words of meaning!

    All the best with your writing, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

    Like

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