A Secret Grave 12: Mind Expanding Beverages

.

Everyone was quiet as Victor spooned herbs from a small canister into a golden China teapot, explaining that the process had to be perfectly executed in order to achieve the desired goal. “The water has to be just the right temperature and the tea has to steep for no more and no less than five minutes.” He poured boiling water from an electric kettle over the mixture and closed the pot, glancing at his watch, which I noticed was a loose-fitting Rolex – normally Victor didn’t wear jewelry. “So what’s ‘the desired goal’?” asked Alicia, who I decided was probably a pain in the ass, though I was wondering the exact same thing.

.

_DSC7137

Alicia

.

“We’ll get to that in a minute. First I’d like each of you to think about how you feel, both physically and mentally, right at this moment, as we’re sitting here, and note it on the paper in front of you.”

I was feeling anxious – not about being here, but about a problem with one of my children. I glanced over at Margot to see what she had written: “calm, happy, excited.” On my other side, Alicia covered her paper with her hand. “Bet you cheated on tests,” she hissed.

“Just curious,” I hissed back. Her fiancé, Emil, looked from one of us to the other as if to say, “Now girls,” in that forbearing way men sometimes have with women they like to pretend are about to go off the deep end. He was in his fifties, with dark curly hair and an extremely intelligent face. I’d seen him somewhere before – and then I remembered: playing piano in a tailcoat at Nordstrom perhaps a year ago, looking blissfully happy as his fingers raced over the keys. (At the time I’d wondered if he got paid or if anyone could sit down and play.)

.

Norm at piano

Emil

.

“Okay,” said Victor. “Now each of us is going to have a little of this tea. You’ll see – it’s very pleasant. And then we’ll wait a few minutes and see how we feel.” He began pouring cups and passing them around the table. I took a sip. The tea had a delicate floral taste with a bitter, slightly medicinal undertone that made my tongue feel fuzzy. “All of it?” asked ‘Betsy’, a pale round woman with the same dark curly hair as Emil. “All of it,” said Victor.

It took fifteen minutes for the tea’s effect to kick in. In that time it was established that Emil, a therapist in real life, was a closet concert pianist who would borrow a tailcoat from the men’s department at Nordstrom and then brazenly sit down at the piano without being asked. “Some chutzpah,” said Betsy, who it turned out was a friend of Margot’s from the Jewish community and also Victor’s landlady.

.

Betsy Tea Ceremony

Betsy

.

“Yeah, right?” said Alicia, placing her hand in Emil’s. “That’s what I love about him.” I realized her voice was different, softer. She reached into her bag, a big red Birkin, withdrew what looked like a legal document and began poring over it. On my other side, Margot stood up. “If y’all don’t mind, there’s something I need to confess.” There were tears in her eyes. I wondered what she was going to say.

.

PS Margot sad

Margot

.

To be continued…

.

Cover photo ~  https://hd.unsplash.com/photo-1459247512518-2d9ea60e7489

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *