Yes miss please and thank ye. Lovely plate if I do say so myself, the missus would die if she saw me dirtying this with my greasy fingers, she’d give me a fair rump of it, but if you say all’s fine, then who am I to say naught against it?
The biscuits are lovely, mum, baked them yourself, now did ye, ah well, that’s too much kindness for the likes of me, my wife takes good care of me, despite the grousing, so I’d not want you to think I’m wanting anything as far as that goes.
The tea? Well, mum, I must say I’ve had nary a taste of something what made my mouth go quite as edgewise as this, I mean to say I love the taste, but my lips want to give a quiver once it’s past, if you pardon my meaning. It’s very good. I think I might need a quaff more, though, to judge its true quality.
Begging your pardon if I don’t hold the teacup rightly, I’m a rough man, mum, with flat fingers, comes from shearing the sheep, not fit for finer things, my pardon, pray forgive me, the missus says I’m not fit for proper conversation, but we seem to be getting on all right, what with my roughness and all.
Haven’t seen the Mister around lately, mum, and that worries me, what with the loss of that lamb last week, and the howls of the wolves lately. Bad business for the sheep, mum, even with me carrying my rifle into the hills every night. My missus hardly sees me at all these days. Not that she complains, mum, not that she complains.
A bit more tea, if I’m not being forward. Thankee, mum, but seems there’s something missing in the taste, not that I’m blaming you, mum, you know your tea, you and your people, but there’s something not right here, let’s try this, again begging your pardon, but the missus makes a fine tea herself, I carry some with me for the times when I’m tending the sheep and the Mister forgets I’m there. It happens, mum, but I’ll never say a word against him, he’s a very busy man.
Just a touch, missus, there you go, sip slowly, ah! No, don’t take a sip of your own brew, just let this play about your mouth, let it linger. We call it lambswool tea, the missus and me, just a laugh for us when we look at the fields and flocks and remember that they once belonged to us and now we can’t even afford enough fleece for a sweater.
Lambswool tea. Big laugh, mum. We can’t afford tea, and we can’t keep the wool. So we make the tea out of whatever’s handy. And free, mum, and free. Oh, but nothing’s free now, is it, no, its all part and parcel, all bought and sold, all bartered or battered or stolen.
Your mister loved lambswool tea, mum. He told me so himself, right after his first taste of it. Did I mention the missing lamb, and the wolves? Sure I done so, mum, you must remember. Only they weren’t so much wolves as big dogs, I’d guess. Hungry dogs what would never touch a lamb. We trained them that way, have done for centuries, mum.
How’s the tea, love? Bit too much of the Irish in it, is there? Oh, you look all tuckered of a sudden, mum. Begging your pardon, though, but before you go to napping, tell me—can you hear the dogs howling? They sound right near to me. Very, very near.
— Mikal Trimm
Mikal Trimm has sold over 50 short stories and 100 poems to numerous venues including Postscripts, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.
Editor’s Notes: The symbolic collage of teapot and wolf seems to fit the flash-poem, a delightfully horrific tale.