"The Day Eddie Got Drunk"
"This used to be my momma's favorite mug," Ellen said, feeling a faint smile nearly succeed in parting her lips before shaking it off like a wet dog fresh from the pond. "I've always been afraid to take it down off the shelf out of fear of breaking it. Ed was always saying how clumsy I am. And Momma, she never
much liked Ed, didn't try to keep it much of a secret neither. She said we would never stay together. Well Momma," she says, lifting her mug towards the ceiling, as if in a toast, "looks like you was right!"
Her lips tremble as her eyes fill with tears, but that earlier hint of a smile, which had been lying in wait, seizes the opportunity to make a full appearance. She smiles for the first time in weeks as she cries for the third time that day.
"I'm sorry," she explains to the concerned looking Chinese woman sitting across from her at the kitchen table, "I was just picturing the look on Momma's face...her seeing Ed come strolling through them pearly gates! She's musta thought they done sent her to that other place!"
She smiles again, wiping tears from her eyes before directing them toward the woman. "Thank you, Kim Lee," she says, gesturing with the mug. "Thank you for everything. The kids and I really...we really..." Ellen struggles to finish her sentence as Kim Lee nods and bows politely, unaccustomed to such praise.
Kim Lee had been sent by the church to help out around the house while Ellen struggled to cope with her loss. She was supposed to come around once a day to help her with the kids and cooking and cleaning, but she found Ellen to be in no condition to do much of anything, so she more or less moved in and took over most of the household responsibilities. She was more than happy to do it, for it kept her out of her own home, one she had only recently moved in to after coming to America as a modern day mail-order bride.
Ellen wipes away her tears and grasps Kim Lee's hand. "We really are thankful. I know I haven't been of much use around here lately and you have been such a great help...and this tea! Ed and I were never much for tea. He liked his coffee, but it always made me a bit jumpy. But this tea, it's very soothing. Where did you get it?"
Kim Lee looks a little perplexed. "Why, it is your tea Miss. I make you your own tea."
"This is Liptons?" Ellen asks, with a look of disbelief, before taking another sip.
"No, no. I find tea when I clean. I find it in nice box you have to dry it over fireplace. I make you that tea. Is good tea, no? And such a pretty box..."
Ellen's face turns pale as she swallows the last sip of "tea" with an audible gulp. The mug slips from her hand and crashes to the floor.
And that was the day Eddie got drunk.