Drinking Tea or Coffee at Aston’s
The tea tasted of tears. It came inside a wide, navy cup and the clay was cracking. I looked
over at Aston sipping his, and asked, ‘Do you taste something salty in this tea you’ve made?’ and he said, ‘This isn’t tea; it’s coffee,’ but it tasted closer to tea and was pale and thin the way coffee ordinarily isn’t.
I was hungry and wanted food. A plate of plain biscuits would have done, but I knew that in
his cupboards there would only be liquorice. That is what he lives off. Even the cigarettes he
smokes are liquorice. He’s smoked since the age of ten, and says he will stop at the age of fifty: a month from now.
Outside the sun had gone out, or in, however you say it, and the incremental shadows
moving into the room looked cinematic. I began to cradle my cup in a conscious manner. I
spoke softly and felt like a film star. For a moment, it was as though no one else was in the
but he was. Aston had not gone anywhere, and while I would never demean myself by calling us ‘similar’, I thought then, how we were probably as lecherous at heart as anyone; both perverted; so far from peace, and starving.
A kitchen in a land with no rain. Am feeling quiet inside
myself. There is no noise in this room but simmering.
I add chickpeas to the boiling pot, I stir the curry. Cumin
gets inside the cuts on my knuckles, the ends of my fingers
where nails have been torn and skin has split like dry earth.
The air grows thick with smoke. It shifts around my careful
movements. I always move carefully because I know about hidden
dangers. Either Tommy Cooper or my parents taught me.
In a hot kitchen in a dry land, I curl myself into the shape
of a comma and crack. Then, I fall asleep by the stove.
Kaylen Forsyth is from Maryport, in Cumbria. She has an MA, with Distinction, in Creative
Writing from the University of Manchester. Her writing focuses on discomfiting landscapes,
the connections – and obsessions – that form between outsiders and the juxtaposition of
absurdity and tenderness within domesticity.