Friday, September 4, 2015

#30 Cup - She Does Not Know Yet (Excerpt)

The pair of cups and saucers by Leningrad Porcelain Factory
which I found at an antique mall at different times.

Write about a cup or a mug. Maybe it’s the one you love to sip your coffee or tea from. Maybe it’s a family heirloom or an antique find. Or maybe it’s a paper cup.
OPTIONAL: Work on your own fiction, without the connection to the topic. Share what you are working on.

She Does Not Know Yet

Auntie Rada’s home did not smell like any other home and did not look like any other home Marusya had ever visited. She lived with her husband, a retired engineer and amateur artist, in an old cottage with a garden, in a quiet green neighborhood of the town where Matveika and Marusya were born. Before that day when mama took Marusya to visit auntie Rada and her husband Nikolai, she did not know such an area existed – she was only familiar with the more or less common five and nine- storied apartment buildings which one could find in any town and city in the vast country called USSR, everywhere from north to south, and from west to east. The town also had an adorable old center with the 1960s era two and four storied buildings which had large apartments with tall ceilings, as Marusya has heard – they liked to take a walk in that cute area buzzing with shops and even the town’s own drama theater. But a neighborhood full of cottages? That was rather unique, and Marusya was all ears when mama told her about it.
“Come on in, Nadya, you haven’t visited for such a long time.”
Auntie Rada greeted them with a friendly smile on her face, and uncle Nikolai simply said “hello” from the living room’s comfy armchair where he was reading a newspaper.
Mama apologized for not visiting more often, and auntie Rada said,
“No worries, I am glad you finally had a chance. And who is that? I knew you had a small daughter, Nadya. That was the last time I heard about this young lady.”
Marusya blushed when auntie Rada called her “young lady”, though she was rather pleased to hear it.
The living room where they entered next had an unusually tall ceiling, not at all like the apartments where Marusya and her other relatives and friends lived, and in each corner there was a pot with an overgrown plant, some leaves were dry, and the spider plants had so many babies that auntie Rada could probably grow her own jungle with them. There were a few shelves with books, and everywhere, up on the walls, on the bookshelves, on the floor there were uncle Nikolai’s paintings. At least, Marusya thought so because mama explained that it was his hobby. The paintings were nothing like the realistic paintings of the famous Russian artists they studied at school, or the Italian and French painters that Marusya knew about from a few art books her parents collected. They were bright and colorful, and reminded her of children’s pictures, with horses, dogs and cats with human eyes, with trees and rivers flowing in fields, and the little country houses which looked flat and not at all like what artists usually paint or what Matveika explained to Marusya about three dimensions. It was strange that uncle Nikolai, being an engineer, did not know about the three dimensions and how to paint houses which would look like the real deal, Marusya thought. Yet she couldn’t take her eyes off of his whimsical pictures. Uncle was a quiet man and almost did not pay any attention to Marusya and her mom, even though it was actually he, and not his wife, who was distantly related to them.
“Let’s have tea,” auntie Rada said and they sat down around an old wooden table with a pretty tablecloth hanging down the floor. It wasn’t vinyl as Marusya had gotten used to, but some heavy kind of fabric with a colorful field of flowers all over it. And then Marusya saw it. The prettiest little tea cup she had ever seen in her life… Having tea in her home meant drinking a slightly brownish warm liquid, with sugar added, from mugs which her babushka called “bocals” – Marusya always found it odd though, because everyone else used that word in relation to wine glasses. But auntie Rada’s tea routine was completely different and was rather a ceremony than routine, starting with the strong black tea in a fine china teapot, and short wide cups made of finest porcelain which seemed transparent when you looked at them in the light. They weighed nothing and had the most intricate leaf and flower design with lines in black and gold – the style of painting Marusya, again, was not familiar with, just like she did not know the roots of uncle Nikolai’s painting style. Marusya was nervous to even lift this treasure up in the air and heard the cup and the saucer making a jingling sound, like little bells would, as she held them in her slightly shaking hands.

Marusya does not know yet that many years later, in a different world, living on a different continent where nobody would be surprised that a family can live in their own cottage in the middle of town, she would find a cup and saucer just like auntie Rada’s tea set was, in a store filled with old and odd stuff which she’d make her favorite place to hang out. She does not know yet that with slightly shaking hands she will pick up that same cup and saucer and with fast beating heart read the stamp on the bottom, “Leningrad Porcelain Factory. Made in USSR.” She does not know yet that auntie Rada’s delicate cup will become a bridge between now and her future.

1 comment:

  1. Terrific. I can only imagine your childhood, but these excerpts help me understand what growing up a half world away must have been like.