The kettle had only just finished boiling when Elizabeth Seedler poured the steaming water into her mug. Ah, tea. She’d been so busy working at home all day she hadn’t even had time for a cuppa. This was going to have to be a quick one though, in five minutes she’d have to leave for the school run to pick up her two loveable terrors. She hadn’t had a moment to herself yet. And to think, she’d given up her well-paid office job to become a domestic goddess who writes part-time. Well, she hadn’t written a thing and the house was spotless. To be honest, there had to be an easier way of attaining deity status.
Elizabeth poured in a quick splash of milk and fished the tea bag out with a spoon, before dropping it in her shiny clean sink. Wait. That was going to leave a stain. She picked the spent brown bag out and – to hell with recycling – dumped it in the bin. It was difficult to be perfect these days. She picked up her tea and blew across the steaming surface. This would be the last moment of peace until the kids went to bed. She absent-mindedly read the ‘World’s Best Mum’ slogan printed on her mug, ‘Most exhausted Mum’, more like! She took a sip and flinched. It wasn’t from the heat. Something had touched her lips. Something in the mug. The teabag… no. She opened the pedal bin and peered in: the used bag sat innocent and discarded on top of the latest rubbish. Elizabeth put the mug down on the worktop, took a teaspoon and stirred, dredging the bottom of the cup. Nothing surfaced.
Elizabeth rinsed the spoon under the cold tap, flicked it once in the sink to dry and put it back in the drawer. She stared at the mug on the counter, the brew’s surface perfectly still with only a twist of delicate steam rising. She tutted; she was going mad. It was, after all, only a cup of tea. She picked it up, took another sip and again recoiled.
Something had definitely touched her lips. It was solid, smooth. Boney and hard. A fish. A reptile. A snake. A… There was only one way to find out.
Putting the mug down too heavily, Elizabeth spilled a ring of liquid on the work surface. She wrenched the cutlery drawer open, pulled out a tea strainer and grabbed a clean mug, husband John’s football one, from the shelf. She messily decanted the tea into the smaller one. Nothing appeared in the strainer, nor at the bottom of her mug. Empty. She rinsed both in the sink and wiped the worktop clean. Leaning against the units, she touched her lips gently, recalling the sensation. She must be dreaming. Lack of sleep, that’s what it was. The over-filled football mug sat brimming, its surface untroubled. Elizabeth stood at a distance, frowning as she tried to work out what the hell was going on. She remembered last summer when her hubby had taken a swig from an open coke can only to find a wasp had crawled in. John had let out a terrible scream and his lips looked like Mick Jagger’s for a week afterwards. But this wasn’t a wasp in her tea. It was something much bigger. She could still feel the tingle on her lips from whatever beast it was in the mug that had… oh, this was ridiculous! There was no such thing as monsters… monsters! the kids! She had to collect the kids. She was late.
She grabbed her coat and bag. No keys, where were the car keys? She found them in her pocket just as she remembered she’d had to park the car miles away round the corner. Ohh! She was in a bad mood. With a headache. And thirsty. And there was a perfectly good cup of tea sitting on the side. Absolutely nothing wrong with it. She was imagining idiotic things. Elizabeth bent over the full mug and took a gratifying slurp of delicious tea. That was when it swallowed her.
John opened the door to find the house neat and tidy and sparkling. He was impressed and to be honest, a little disappointed. He’d come home early in the hope of catching Elizabeth in the middle of her domestic duties so he could issue fake masterful commands and generally tease her about her new domestic role but, it seemed, she was on top of everything. He couldn’t fault her. Except she should’ve been back with the kids by now.
As John wandered into the clean kitchen there was even a hot cup of tea waiting for him on the worktop. His favourite West Ham mug – result! John carefully picked up the brimming mug just as his phone rang. It was the school, the kids were still waiting to be picked up.
‘I’ll be there, quick as I can,’ John said and cut the call. Where the bloody hell was Liz? Better see if she’s stuck in traffic. One-handed, he speed-dialled her number as he bent his head towards the mug rim. As his lips made contact with the ceramic, that’s when he noticed Liz’s car keys by his feet, along with her bag where he heard her phone ring, just as the tea took a sip of him.
If this story messed with your mind in a way you liked and made you thirsty for more
then you might need to get Better.