Overlooking China

by Robert Williams

Thirty some odd years ago, my father purchased a set of china teacups with matching saucers as a Mother's Day present. It wasn't the type of set one uses to serve a white gloved afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, which was perfectly fine with my mother who preferred her tea barehanded, overly sweet and in a tall plastic glass filled with ice and topped with a wedge of lemon or, every now and again, when she was feeling especially sophisticated, a fresh sprig of mint. This tea set consisted of twenty five different cups and saucers made by twenty five of the most renowned china manufacturers from all around the world and came with a plain white wooden display case which, for the next thirty some odd years, would occupy a prominent place on the family's living room wall. When people came to visit they always commented on how pretty the cups were and my mother, with distant eyes and a girlish smile, would thank them as she ran a finger along the rim of one of the cups searching for a few specks of trespassing dust that would give her an excuse to spend the next afternoon polishing them. As a six-year-old child I had regarded those cups as a priceless exotic treasure when, beneath my father's anxious awkward gaze, my mother untied the thick pink ribbon and opened the clumsily wrapped box. At thirty some odd six, returning home, failed in marriage and gratefully accepting the ever standing offer of a ready room (for no more than a couple of weeks) I would walk past the gleaming china teacups without affording them so much as a passing thought, having long ago relegated them to part of the prosaic scenery that serves as a backdrop for the achievements in life.


Robert Williams is an amateur writer who left his childhood home in Houston for Boston, by way of Biloxi (after a short stint in D.C.), where he hopes to live a long and happy life, in spite of a terminal case of hypochondria, and to amass a world record-setting collection of rejection letters, or contrarily, to one day be published.