I had not believed the idea, that such things could exist in modern times, as these and I would have kept the belief, that it was impossible one could keep such a business alive, when all people want these days is poison; cigarettes and alcohol, the trending topic of this secluded town.
As chance has it, I came across the little place myself and could not help but to explore its insides; I had to challenge its painted sign: “Tea house”, because surely it wasn’t regular tea, nobody drank tea anymore, unless it was a “special” brew.
The tea house was hidden between a pair of unsold homes, it was hard to spot because it was built much like a beach hut and if you were to pass it you may think it was a shed or an old garage. The sign was scrawled out as if it had been painted on by an infant, the bright purple paint glared at me, once my eyes had caught it I couldn’t stop looking at it and I wondered how I ever managed to walk past this place without it seeing me.
As I pushed open the wooden door, carefully as it felt like the type of door that may break if I were to push too hard, the aroma of incense filled my lungs with a comforting suffocation. The room was small and gloomy with old tribal masks and beads decorating the walls and hanging from the bamboo rafters. My human instincts kicking in, I began scanning for other people, alas, I was alone in here. I should have turned back then, but my heart had filled with a childlike need to explore and I couldn’t help taking a seat at what must have been the only table in the room.
“What brew?” monotone, warm vibrations on my neck, I turned my head to see a woman holding a tray. She had dreadlocked hair that covered her bowed head and what looked like feathers sticking out from various places. She had a sandy rag that hung off her frail body and she clenched and rubbed her fingers around the tray as if she was insecure about her hands. Apart from the movement in her hands, the rest of her body was statue still, she was surreal.
“What are the options?” I chirped, almost dragging the words back into my mouth as they came out, I sensed I wasn’t welcome here and she left such a gap before answering me that I almost believed I was dreaming.
“One brew.” Her accent was Jamaican or African, I couldn’t quite tell, she spoke so monotone and she certainly wasn’t English, not with the way she communicated so awkwardly. I daren’t ask her why she’d asked me what I’d wanted when there was only one option, I feared she may get angry with me or merely not understand, so I kept my ignorant nit-picking to myself for today and gave her a simple nod with which she walked away robotically, as if she was carrying a ball and chain on her leg, into what I had thought was a wall but was a door; in my defence the walls were all wooden slabs, like the door and in this dim light there could have been a big “this is a door” sign and I wouldn’t have realised.
I almost jumped out of my seat when the tea cup landed in front of me and I heard her breathing beside me, she had appeared back so fast and as if from nowhere. What made me even more uncomfortable was that she stood next to me waiting for me to drink and her position remained the same as it was before, head bowed, fidgeting hands and stiff body.
“What is in the tea?” I asked, naively I guess.
She snapped her head up, wheezing, her face now clearly visible and I realised why she had it bowed. Scars all over her face and eyes so dark that you could be fooled that she didn’t have any. Her lips were so chapped and puffy; I instinctively looked down at my tea, wondering if it was this that had caused her face to be so ‘dynamic’.
“It isn’t poison” she was grinning, a toothless smile, it was unnatural looking against her battered face not to mention, she had saliva on her bottom lip, it was white and it rather put me off somewhat.
I tried to smile out of politeness and then pressed my lip onto the china cup, I drank...