A cold torrent shudders from the tap into the cauldron-like bowels of the kettle. He clanks it down on the stove and presses the ignition switch, hearing the click, click, click, WHOOOSH as prelude and prologue to conversation. The flames tickle the kettle’s underbelly as an anticipatory act, fostering his nervousness while he waits.
He dispenses one, two, three teaspoons of leaves into the round-bellied glass pot. On the bench two cups sit side-by-side, their handles turned inward, barely touching.
The kettle whistles and he pours a question. Silently she lets it draw. He pours the milk, stopping when she nods and stirs the words again. She adds sugar to both cups, two for him and one for her, and posits a question of her own.
The tendrils of steam rush headlong into each other, tripping over one another and caught in tangles, melding into one breath.
Lest they burn their lips the conversation is spoken in sips. As the beverage tempers and cools, deeper thoughts are expressed in longer draughts. Drained almost to the dregs, remainders of words stain the bottom of each cup. An unfinished conversation threatens to evaporate as each hand holds the cup for the last whispers of disseminating heat.
She ignites the flame knowing it simmers close to the boil.
They depart while the kettle’s whistle remains unattended.