''Tea and Toast Alarm' by Steve Campbell

Henry takes their cups from the cupboard and places them onto the tray next to the hot buttered toast. His superhero mug, the one with the stains inside like tree rings, gets spoonfuls of sugar based on the prompt taped to the front of the jar. He grumbles to himself when some of the granules escape and sprinkle the tray with miniature crunches. A dollop of honey holds the herbal tea bag to the bottom of Esther’s china cup and stops it from bobbing against the pouring water. The steam adds fog to his cloudy vision.

Henry shuffles into the room and slides the tray onto the bed beside her as best he can but hand tremors rattle the teaspoon against china.

The signal for the end of school. A call from the phone in the hall by the door. Church bells above a shower of cheering confetti. Their new arrival announced throughout the hospital ward. And now, the daily chime between cup and saucer.

Esther’s eyelids flicker as the familiar ringing fetches her in from a dream.


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