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An Empty Cup of Tea

By Aaron SteelePublished about a year ago 1 min read

It wasn’t in the bottom of the mug,

The one I studied, swirling tea leaves and

Lies in tight spirals.

It wasn’t in the texts or chats or calls.

I scoured the words and dredged your

Voicemails, each pause a klaxon:

The absence of us.

I looked between the torn pages of

That calfskin journal you tossed so absently,

The one that sliced the air and split my ego,

Hand-scrawled missives, doodles,

A few pious tear stains, someone else’s name.

It wasn’t there either. Not hiding in the margins,

Or twisted between the words Love and Dreamy.

What does that even mean?

I wonder sometimes when it’s darkening,

When the air chills and I bundle

Tightly with hope embers warming

My twilight dreams,

If perhaps you’ve misplaced it.

Something so rare, so personal, so elusive.

Did you leave it on our beach,

The one where we dipped our toes and fears

Below the churning froth?

Did you leave it at the cabin,

The one where stories by the fire became

Eulogies of a past we shed like

Moths before flame?

Did you leave it in the backseat of that car,

The one with fogged up windows and

Half-empty beer bottles clinking

And swaying in time to another’s metronome?

That must be it. Where it fell. Where it lingers still.

I asked for it. You said you already gave it.

Did you really? Is it in the pauses? The silence? The dial tone?

I’ve tried to listen, but all I hear is the

Squeal of extinguished embers

As they sputter and split one last time

Like those overcooked marshmallows you dashed into the fire

Or the charred remnants of the quesadilla I butchered in your kitchen.

If you find it somewhere, I guess I’ll listen.

I mean, it’s the least, or perhaps the most I could do.

If you find it languishing on the bed at his house

Or hiding in the closet,

Or buried under the tears I never saw you shed.

If I had to guess, it wasn’t really there.

None of it.

Least of all an apology.

heartbreak

About the Creator

Aaron Steele

As a novelist, Aaron seeks to capture the frailty of the human spirit and the power and unpredictability of nature. Inspired by the sway of the hammock and warm crash of the Floridian waves his ideas flow from daydream to page. #pinebluff

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    Aaron SteeleWritten by Aaron Steele

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