Ally sits alone at the 24 hour diner across the street from her college campus, and next door to her apartment. It's almost four in the morning and she has a paper due for her Japanese culture class at 8 a.m. So far she's typed her name - Ally Davis, the title of the class, and the following sentence:
I hate this paper.
She sighs and reaches for her coffee cup. Empty. She walks over to the counter and asks for a refill, but the waitress shakes her head. No.
"Listen, lady, I've got a paper due and I'm ready to pass out," Ally says sharply.
"Sorry sweetie. The coffee urn is fried. Something happened to it. We have hot water for tea, though."
"Tea?" Ally takes a turn shaking her head. "That's not gonna help me stay awake."
"Well it's that or soda. Sorry hun." The waitress hands her a clean mug from behind the counter and takes Ally's overworked one.
"Sit down, honey, and I'll bring the tea over. Milk and sugar?"
"Sure." Ally takes her seat, unhappy, a bit shaky from all the coffee, yet determined to stay awake and finish the paper. She's a 4.0 and isn't going to let some stupid CORE requirement class ruin her pristine GPA.
The waitress appears in front of Ally all of the sudden - Ally must have missed her walking up - and holds a large wooden box with intricate carvings. "Is a freakin' genie gonna pop out of that?" Ally jokes.
The waitress smiles mysteriously and places the box on the bistro table, next to Ally's computer. Then she slides a second table over to Ally and returns with a pot of hot water, milk and sugar. "Try the Assam Melody," she advises before heading back behind the counter.
"Is this for real?" Ally asks herself as she opens the box. The lid removes easily and a waft of dewy grass, musky air and a softness she can't identify gusts through her nose. The box features rows of teabags, lined up at attention, soldiers ready to serve.
The Assam Melody is in a red teabag and catches her eye. She removes one tea bag, then reads the label.
"Ingredients: tea." Helpful, she thinks.
This isn't Ally's first cup of tea, but this is the first one on her journey to teaism: the art and craft of enjoying the harmony of tea. She slides her finger under the envelop flap and removes the tea bag. Then she pores boiling water over the tea, which immediately turns a tan liquor, and enjoys the scent that escapes the cup. She breathes in deeply and closes her eyes to sip...
...She opens them, expecting to see the waitress behind the counter, the police officers joking at one of the booths, and a potential bum sipping free soup at the counter. But instead she is in a field, surrounded by scented leaves, sunshine on her skin, and questions in her mind. Where is she? When is she?
Stay tuned for Part Two, arriving here by Wed., April 6. Leave questions below (or e-mail me) for Ally to answer on her search to becoming a Teaist Apprentice.
**This story is a work of fiction. All characters, events, stories, etc, are the creative mastermind of Carolynne Keenan. Do not share without permission. Make sure to enjoy the story and see the rest of Keen Tea Thyme. Thank you.**