Lady Grey by Sophia Holme

You pretend you don’t care, but I know you do. Your big family box of PG Tips grows steadily emptier each week. So I bring my own deep-bellied stainless steel strainer, I bring my own parcel of loose leaf tea, the buds jostling in the wax-coated brown paper. You pretend it doesn’t matter if I use soy or skim or even lemon, but I think we both know this blend is quite robust; it can only be at it’s best with whole milk, so I tuck a pint of that into my backpack as well. You still have sugar, you always have sugar. 

You say you want for nothing. But there are things which used to make you happy, dyeing your fringe a wild colour or hosting a big supper party, that you are now simply too tired for. You reach the first step – picking up the dye from the shelf, scrolling through recipes on BBC Good Food – and then you see all the tiny further steps required, all spooling in front of you, and your brain short-circuits.  So the second you get home from work, you drop to the couch and remain there. 

If you’re made to heat your can of soup before tucking in, you’ll likely just go hungry. I’ve learned not to push. I just make you the best tea I can find, bring it to you without asking. Accepting it, you never say thank you, but I watch your eyes widen after the first sip, your hands hug the cup all the way round, the way you let the steam prick your face, you hold the fragrance in your nose. You treat it like magic, what I’ve expended – this tiny bit of energy, of effort, of love.  

Sophia Holme (she/her) is a queer writer originally from Canada, now based in Oxford, England. She works in a bookshop and enjoys reading bits of several novels and drinking a lot of coffee. Her work has appeared in Molotov Cocktail, Horse Egg Literary and elsewhere. She tweets from @holmesophia