Flash Fiction Friday – Afternoon Tea With Doris

October 3, 2022, prompt: Write a story about any ritual involving tea in 99 words (no more, no less). It can be a daily afternoon tea prepared specifically or reading tea leaves in a cup. What do you know? What do you imagine? Is your story deep and ponderous or bright and flash? Go where the prompt leads! Click here for details.


Afternoon Tea With Doris – by Hugh W. Roberts

Every Sunday afternoon, I attended the ritual afternoon tea with Doris.

I never got a word in edgeways. Doris talked through cups of tea, plates of cucumber sandwiches and dainty pastries.

Natter, natter, natter. She never shut up.

But today was different. Everything seemed the same as I took my place at Doris’s table. She remained silent until her mobile phone rang.

Natter, natter, natter. Christ, does she never stop talking?

“Yes, I do miss Hugh. Sunday afternoon tea will never be the same again without him,” chirped Doris. “Why don’t you join me, the person reading this story?”

***

Image of a mug of tea next to an open book
Image credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

***


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you’ll love ‘Glimpses.’

***

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

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45 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday – Afternoon Tea With Doris

      1. Many years ago, my grandmother had a friend who was from England. Olive liked to read tea leaves, so whenever she visited her house, she read everyone’s leaves. She was pretty accurate too as I recall.

        1. My mom and grandmother went to a “reader” years ago, when she was single. They went to the Daffodil Tea Room in Toronto, known for their readers’ accuracy. They had a special event, one reader in front of all the tea room visitors. When they entered the tearoom, each person had to remove a personal item (jewelry, scarf) and put it in a basket. No one saw you put it there. Later the reader would hold up the item and tell everything about that person then walk over and return it to them. He held up my mom’s watch and told her she would marry a fair-haired man from across water. My mom told the reader she had no intention of marrying – ever. That evening, Mom and my grandmother were sitting on the front porch and a man came walking up the street and asked for directions. He had just moved there from Germany and had sandy-colored hair. They married three years later.

        2. Thanks Hugh and I actually did make a blog post about it back in 2013 around Halloween. I looked back to get it to send it to you and discovered no one read it or commented on it, not even my neighbor who always commented on it as she encouraged me to start this blog. I started my blog in February 2013, but had no WordPress followers until November 17th and I followed no one either. I did not really understand the experience of blogging and enjoyed writing for the sake of writing.

          Anyway, I wrote about that story plus a very weird encounter my mom and I had with a renowned psychic. My mom, who was not frivolous as to money as my father left her and took all the money out of their accounts leaving her penniless, plus she never called me at work, called me to ask if we could go. It was not near us, an hour’s drive away. She did not drive. It was very eerie and the psychic was very spot-on with my mom. As to me, he was correct with the hairstyle, but I’ve never met or married the type of person he said I would meet. But I guess I am not dead yet either. 🙂 You couldn’t ask questions … he “felt your vibes” and said what he felt.

        3. Given the post never received any views, likes or comments, I’d be inclined to republish it, Linda. However, I note the image at the top of the post has no credits. Is it one you created or one you found? If the latter, be careful that it doesn’t have any copyright attached to it. Even if it’s a free image, I’d recommend you give it credit details about where you found it.

        4. I should do that Hugh since no one read it. I won’t do it this year, but will next year as I just did my “Halloween shoot” yesterday – squirrels eating ghost cookies. It should be cute (hopefully). I do a holiday shoot with the squirrels in the Park for all the major holidays. I was thinking of reposting a few of my earlier posts in my 10th year of blogging which will be in 2023.

          As for the photo, thank you for the advice and I already had an unfortunate experience of using a photo that was copyrighted about eight years ago. In fact I think you did a blog post once on being careful with copyrighted photos and I almost told my store then. I learned my lesson … here is what happened.

          I didn’t take many photos until 2015 when I got a digital camera with more zoom. I was following a site on Facebook called “Grantleigh Farm” and they had beautiful nature, landscape and holiday photos. I asked them if I could use some of their photos in my blog and sent the blog link. The site administrator said “no problem” and I kept a screenshot of the answer. I asked for whom I should attribute the photos to and that person said it is different photos from staff and not to worry. So I used a photo which was NOT one of their photos and the photographer sent me a message on a post and asked me to e-mail him and gave me his e-mail address. I did and he sent me a bill for $250.00 for using his photo which he detected with “photo spy software” … I told him what Grantleigh Farm told me and showed him the screenshot and he said he wanted to dwell on it a few days. It was a little bizarre because he was pretty hyped up about it, but relented only when I showed him my communication and I’m sure he went after Grantleigh Farm because I never saw any more Facebook posts from Grantleigh Farm on Facebook and they took their website down.

          He told me I did not have to pay the fee but don’t do it again and he was being kind to me as he just found out he was cancer free after multiple rounds of chemotherapy. I thought about buying something from his site, like Christmas cards or a print, but decided to just thank him again and call it done.

          So, what I did was hunt for stock photos to use and this was early in my blog and I did not know about Creative Commons or Pixabay sites. So I paid for each of the photos, $1.00 apiece, royalty-free photos on “Dollar Photo” – then they were acquired by Adobe Stock and I had credit because I would pay an amount for the photos in advance, like $25.00 and keep a credit so I did not buy a photo each time. They were fine with it, but I downloaded some holiday photos to use in the future and that was the end of that. I went through every post I had done to date and replaced the existing photo with a paid photo since I did not trust that Grantleigh Farm had taken the photo or not. I used that Dollar Photo service for a while until I just took all my own pics or used Pixabay and always attribute a photo from there. Thank you for the suggestion.

        5. Thank you for sharing your story, Linda. Again, it would make a great blog post and warn bloggers not to use any photos or images they do not have a guarantee are free to use. However, even when using images or photos from free sites like Pixabay, I always recommend the user credit where the image is from and turn the credit details into a link to the place where the image came from.

        6. I was going to share it that day on your post, but the story was so lengthy. I do credit Pixabay photographers or if I use an image from somewhere – not going to let that happen again, though it was not intentional or sneak on my part. I have made that occult-type post into a draft and save it for next year. Right now, at two posts per week, I compute I will be at 1,800 posts for my 10-year blogiversary, so making that post a draft will allow me to do an extra post sometime over the holidays. I used to post more, but it’s just too difficult to keep up. I have pictures taken in July, September and October I’ve not even sorted thru yet.

        7. Thank you Hugh. When I first started blogging, I blogged three or four times a week, just one long paragraph and a one-word title with no pictures, then added the Dollar Photo pictures, so it made it easy to amass all the blog posts. I have thought of taking those earliest posts down, but so far I have left it it to show how the blog has morphed. I can’t post that much now as I am behind with responding to comments, in Reader and even sorting pictures to use in posts. The first four and one-half years having just two e-mail followers and not following anyone at WordPress made it easy to post a lot. I think you said in your informational posts that you deleted old posts.

        8. Yes, I do, Linda. If they’re not doing anything regarding views or comments, I see them as deadwood, so delete them (unless they can be updated and published as new posts).

        9. That does make sense Hugh and takes up space on your blog. I have not had to buy extra storage space (only half full) which surprises me as I use so many photos.

  1. Wonderfully done, Hugh. Very clever fiction writing. It seemed like Doris really liked a typical British tea (with the tea and sanwiches) and some company. She probably would chat and chat with anyone and everyone 😊

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