Signs (Pt. 3)

“I have a gift for you,” he says and places an unwrapped cardboard box on the table. The box is small and cube-like. On the top in sharpie he’s written her name. She puts her book down and leans forward, looking but not touching.

“What for?”

“It’s an early graduation present.”

“Want me to open it now or after graduation?”

“It’s up to you.”

She leans back and smiled. “I’ll wait. Want some tea?”

“Sure. I’ll make some hot water.”

He fills the kettle and puts it on the stove.

“Do you want any?”

“Yeah, I’ll have some.”

He pulls two mugs out of the cabinet. One of them is yellow and green, and its rim is chipped. He runs his finger over the chip. It flakes.

The other mug is dark blue. The ceramic is uneven and glazed over. It’s cracked in three places, as if it had been dropped and broken, but the cracks have been filled with gold. He runs his fingers over the gold.

“What’s this?”

She walks over and cups the mug with her hands.

“My friend broke this mug a couple years ago. So he took the mug and repaired it. I don’t know where he got it done, but he brought it back like this.”

She puts it down, picks up the kettle, and pours water into the mug. He watches the water rise against the sides of the cup, above the gilded cracks. The mug doesn’t leak.

She drops a tea bag into the mug, loops the string around the handle, and hands it to him.

“Three minutes steep.”

He nods and lets the warmth steep his fingers.