Routine Rituals

When reddening light first crept above the horizon he would find himself awake. The cat would be awake too, and with him, by his right arm, ready for a pat but more ready for something to eat. He would get up and lead the cat to the kitchen, being careful not to make too much noise, lest his sweetheart stir in the bed he left behind. In the kitchen he would feed the cat and they would look together out the window at the narrow spreading band of fire in the distance which showed that day was coming. The kettle would be on the stove and beginning its relentlessly slowly roiling boil. He would leave the cat and enter the bathroom.

In the bathroom there was showering and brushing and shaving and the radio was there to accompany him as he went about his work. It was a sort of companion. A serious companion who talks about what’s going on in the world with a blank face and an occasional cocked eyebrow. He would dress and turn off the radio and the kettle would be singing on its hot plate, and he would panic that his sweetheart might hear, and perhaps be woken by the noise, but of course she never was, for it was a soft noise – persistent and demanding, but soft, and you couldn’t hear it in the bathroom next door any more than you could hear it upstairs in the bedroom.

On the second shelf were collected a range of teas and it could be an onerous thing to choose which seemed to best match the day. He tried to think which his beloved would most like to drink, and whenever he was stumped, which was quite often, he would decide that it was to be a special day, and on special days they ought to drink orange pekoe. They enjoyed drinking orange pekoe. In fact they enjoyed drinking most teas. Tea was a good drink to drink together.

With tea in the pot and the cups on the tray with the small jug of milk he made his way out of the kitchen. Frozen dew on tufts of grass in the back paddock glistened in the early light, but it was a grey light and there was no warmth in it. It was still night inside though. He would carry the tray through the house in the deep gloom, through the black corridor with its thick Persian hall runner and tribal hangings on the walls and Art Nouveau figures on hall tables. He would turn at the foot of the stairs, and then ascend. Sometimes the cat would dance between his legs as he went. On other days the cat would merely appear in the bedroom when he arrived there.

The curtains would hang heavy and dense in the bedroom, limiting the precocious early sun, but not completely, for on fine days there would be one bold spot of light on the polished timber floor. He would pour the tea, measuring carefully the proportion of milk, and gently put a cup down on his sweetheart’s bedside table. He would then sit on top of the bed covers and carefully wake the sleeping woman with soft hands and soothing words. At the completion of this ritual he would kiss his sweetheart and leave the room, with his own cup of tea, and he would go downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs he would gather up his satchel and leave the house, closing the front door with consideration. He would walk down the pathway, through the trees to the clearing on the side of the hill where the small, wooden shack stood. There he would unpack his things, sip his tea, and commence writing for the day.

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Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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