Writing

Short Story: Cup of Tea

The tea swirled in the cup as she made it to spin. A translucent blue flower made loops around the liquid. It was the most sensible influence she had had in years. Somehow she had slipped into the cracks and got lost. She never meant such a thing to happen. Her life had started with a strong beat and a clear inclination to what she came here to do. Now she had been on Earth ten years, and the only action she could be proud of was to make a flower petal follow the laws of gravity and motion. She put the cup on the desk and watched her new supervisor narrow his eyes.

“Did you hear what I said?” the man asked.

“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” The past pep she would have not under any condition let the truth come out. Not that the past self would have ever been in this situation. She would have sat there her back straight and hung to all the words said.

Her supervisor was grinding his teeth and about to say something. She tuned out. She was glad that they bought the good tea to the office. It was the only reason she came to these meetings. Otherwise, she couldn’t be bothered. It wasn’t like they could sack her. She knew too much. Her job was to handle the small-scale changes to make sure their calculations stayed intact to test their theorems. Earth had been a perfect place to try social schemes to see what kind of group dynamics combined with ideals and values worked best to either wipe out the entire ecosystem or nurture it to flourish. She had drawn the short straw, and it was her duty to whisper and encourage humans to do their worst to their environment. And she was doing pretty good.

Her supervisor had stopped preaching. He was new. It was all the shouting and caring about numbers and sending memos that gave him away. They never lasted. So she didn’t bother to learn their human names or listen to them for the matter. It was easier that way.

“Yes, sir,” she replied. That was another thing they as a race had embraced, the titles. The higher-ups liked to be called sir, ma’am, or their honor. She wasn’t sure if it had adhered from them to humans or from humans to them. Either way, she hated it. She always made sure the sir part came with the disrespect it merited. Titles were earned not inherited.

“You weren’t listening,” the supervisor said in a lower tone.

“Does it matter?”

The man’s face turned red.

“I’m good at what I do. Cross-reference my stats to anyone else’s, and you notice that all the fuss you are making now is just to make you seem relevant. It’s your ego talking, the thing we are messing with humans, and as a manager, you should know how it functions by now. And as you may have noticed, I’m not engaging this with hostility. I’m staying calm,” she said. She was betting that the man was so new he hadn’t yet read the memo about passive-aggressive behavior—what a wonderful invention. Again, she wasn’t sure which of them had come up with it. Humans were brilliant and inventive on their own, and she was sure it had been better if they had just monitored them without intervening, and they would have learned more than enough about all the social theorems.

She stood up and took the cup with her. “I think we are done. Do you happen to know if there is more tea?”

The supervisor stared at her, astonished. She left before he could get all the ducks in the row and respond.

Thank you for reading and have a delicious day ❤

© K.A. Ashcomb

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