Beer is the magical drink that created civilization. Fermenting grain makes water safer to drink. Finding enough grain to ferment drove agriculture. Tending the grain made it more practical to remain in one place year round. Brewing also encouraged cultivation of yeast, and certainly lead to reliably leavened breads. Bread and beer lubricated many social gatherings, to such an extent that “breaking bread” is still a metaphor in use today.
Tea, on the other hand, only appears after beer and bread are established. It is often seen alongside silly dainty sandwiches with the crust cut off.
He sipped the fragrant tea and let his mind wander.
There was a time when he couldn’t have let it go far. But he’d come a long way in his practice of tea shop meditation. He found it easier each time to let go of the present and wander more freely in other times. The past came easiest for him, as it does for most aspirants. Learning to trigger memories of future events is a more advanced skill, one that might come with time and practice.
He sipped the tea, and remembered.
He remembered a child that was always careful to get the last cookie. A young man that easily manipulated circumstances to get the better seat in class, the better seat on the train, and the first pick of the box of kittens.
Wait. That bit about the kittens wasn’t actually his own experience. He never had a kitten, it was always dogs. Wasn’t it?
He sipped the tea.
He sipped the tea and wandered into the cloudy corners of his mind.
No, he never had a kitten.
But there were fish. Endless fish. Fish with large, lidless eyes staring at him while he did his homework. Watching him as he read. Staring at him as he slept. Everywhere he looked there were fish watching.
He took a deep breath, and sipped his tea.
Eyes. There were always eyes.
And occasionally a tentacle.
He dropped the cup and hurried out of the shop. Perhaps a walk through Ipswitch would clear his mind without calling attention of any old ones…