One Lump or Two



Original poster
Not far from the city's docks on on the corner of the block shared by Brothers' Bakery, Strider's Meats and Heel to Two the cobbler's shop was a place that anyone could get a drink, that is if their drink of choice was tea. Abigail's Room was the name of the cozy shop, though said Abigail was now with her long dead husband in heaven. The shop was now run by Emily, Abigail's only granddaughter and last family member on Earth, or at least on this side of the ocean.

All the regulars knew of Emily's recent loss and treated her with extra kindness, but the kindness despite being well meant was start to get to the young woman. She wanted to stop seeing the sad smiles and the exaggerated questions about how she as doing. Instead of just screaming what she really felt, she just kept smiling and telling everyone she was doing well and thank you.

The sound of shoes on the wooden floor that creaked was only Emily's second clue that someone had walked into the currently empty shop. The bell on the door was of course her first clue. The footsteps though told her much more about her customer before she turned around, already with a cup of tea in hand for him.

"The fog bring you in?" she asked with a smile.
He smiled and removed his hat, his dampness of the air having left thousands of droplets on the what glitter like stars in the night.

"The mist, the warmth and the tea. All good enough reasons to come here even without the person ready to offer them to me.. He used to come in a few times every week but the big case he had been on for the last two months had kept him at the office. But this morning he was feeling good. He had a new lead and a new suspect, not that he'd talk shop but he could afford to treat himself. It had been nothing but work since his mother passed away, but that was going to change once he cracked this one, and he was so close to could almost taste it.

"Its good to see the shop still open." he said "Just a pot of the usual, actually... better make it into breakfast." he stepped up to the counter and opened the menu casting his eye over the text. "I Don't see the old lady around." he commented, old lady being an affectionate nickname. "SHes usually always here."
There was a slight clinking sound as Emily clinched her fists, one holding the silverware she was about to put on the counter. It was the first time in weeks anyone had asked where her grandmother was. Most of the regulars had known if for no other reason she had closed the shop for three days after her passing for the wake and funeral. Many were from their church and had been at their service.

That Donny here was a regular but did not know of Abigail's passing startled the new shop owner. "She passed on the third," she tired to say in a steady voice as she set the utinsels down. Emily didn't look up at his face but rubbed the crease out of the napkin under the fork, spoon and knife. Her green eyes hidden she thought, trying to recall the last she had scene the young detective. Finally she moved a lock of her curly auburn hair and faced him. "Ready to order?"
"Oh." was the only reply he could think of. "I'm sorry." now he was thinking about all the times he had put off coming to see a witness or file papers early and for a moment s silence heavier than the fog hung in the air.

"The pancakes, and the usual tea." he said "or something with cinnamon in it."

He didn't know why he said cinnamon he just did. "If you'd like a talk and theres nothing else you need to be doing I'll be at the table over there." His voice was soft but still managed to hint that he shared her loss, she didn't seem to want his sympathy but he felt he had t offer it because it was the thing to do.

"But I'm happy you've taken over the place, It would be a shame for it to close."
Emily just nodded her head as she listened to his order and his other words before heading to get his breakfast. Once she turned her back she swallowed the lump in her throat. Donny's sympathy was a lot harder to take then the other patrons. As she quickly prepared the pancakes she tried to reason it out.

In the end Emily could only conclude that the sympathy was painful for him too.

Walking back out, Emily had taken the idea of cinnamon with both the pancakes and the tea. Sprinkling it onto of the pancakes with some fresh whipped cream and a whole stick in the tea with added spices. A warming treat indeed. As she sat both down for Donny she gave him a sad smile, not bothering with something more fake. "It would be a lie to say I've missed you. Too much you know. But you haven't been in a long time.".

Really it was a question, but she was having a hard time saying it. Normally she would have noticed one of her favorite customers missing and she would have been worried. Now she wanted to know what had been keeping him away.
He looked down tot he pancakes and was already cutting when she spoke. "My ma passed too, and works been keeping me busy." he said before putting the tines of the fork in his mouth. "The doctored tried everything but there was nothing they could do." he put down the fork and picked up the teapot and tea strainer to pour out a mug then stopped. "Why don't you get yourself a mug too and we can sit."

His tone was friendly but his eyes didn't seem to want to meet hers. "I often thought of the old woman as a second Mother." he said dropping a couple of lumps into the mug and stirring it with the spoon. "Shes the one who told me to join the force."

He cut away another piece of pancake and ate it chewing slowly. "These are good."
"Thank you," was all she was able to say at first. That his mother had died too, well it was no wonder that he hadn't been around. Emily felt a twing of guilt for not knowing this and she looked away from Donny and looked around the shop. There wasn't anyone there at the moment, which she already knew. It wasn't going to bother anyone if she got off her feet for a while. At least until another customer showed up.

"I'll be right back," she told him, heading back to the counter. A few moments later she returned with a sturdy mug in one hand. She took the fabric of her skirt in the other as she sat down across the table from him.

There was silences sa she took time to first smell then taste her tea before setting it down again. Only then did Emily look at him. "I'm sorry." Strange how those words gave her peace when it was not for herself that she spoke them.

Outside the fog billowed. The light from the windows of the shop barely penetrating outside. A gloom like a shell surrounded the building.
A just of wind rattles the glass int he windows as the thick fog drive past in waves, it was easy to mistake it for rain. If eh hadn't known this street since before he could walk it would be impossible to tell what was out there.

"She spoke of you before she died." Donny said seeming to remember and reach into his coat pulling out a small paper envelope. "Her pearl earrings, she wanted you to have them." he said placing the envelope on the table. "She said you always liked them when she wore them." he broke into the first warm smile he had shown since he had arrived at the memory.

"The last time I spoke to her she was laughing at her own jokes, so I believe she died happy."
Looking down at the envelope Emily found her eyes fill with tears. She closed them for a moment hoping they would soak back in, though it only caused them to not form any more. Opening them, and quickly brushing away the dew like moisture with the back of her hand she took the envelope and looked at Donny. She smiled back. "I'm glad that you got to hear her laugh, it was always contagious."

She looked down, but only to open the envelope. She really had always admired those earrings. She placed them in her hand and thought about the memories.

"Grandma, she came down with a cold. Or so we thought. I don't know if she was being tough like she always had been, or if it just got worse at the last minute. She was in her own bed though. That's what she always wanted." It was the first time since she spoke to the priest that she related the story. Her grandmother got what she wanted though, and that was a comfort.

"Is it alright right now?" Donny might have given them to her on his mother's request, but if seeing them on someone else was too soon she wanted to know.
He nodded, "She said she would tell my father I made something of myself like he always wanted me to, a good honest living with nice house and fever forgot about my dear old Ma. And that I should find myself a girl and settle down so she had stories to look forwards to. She died happy and thats what matters right?" He finally looked up at her and his eyes caught hers.

He shoot his head and went back to his pancakes as if there was something he had though better of saying. It didn't take him long to finish and he put down the utensils and picked up his mug, leaning back and smelling the scent of the brew. "How are you holding up?"
Emily had carefully taken the earrings and put them on. Her hands her going down when Donny looked at her and she froze. When he looked away, she was confused and she ran a hand through her curls as though that was what she had been doing all along, though it wasn't. She watched him more intensely than she might have meant to, but she wasn't really thinking.

"Somedays are better than others," she admitted with a shrug. "The worse is after closing when it's quiet. I'm not really use to that." A chill went up her spin and she rubbed her arms. "I try not to think about how quiet it is," she continued but each word came out shower then the last and she started looking around the room. "I think I've spooked myself," Emily finally told him in a whisper. She was finding the shop far too quiet for her liking.