Careful, it's Hot
rating: +9+x

He let the mug rest in their hands,
to make sure they were ready and wouldn’t drop it.
Morning coffee to start the day.
Careful, he said. It’s hot.

As they held the weight
and the ceramic warmed their hands,
his fingertips lingered at the rim.
They looked up,
meeting his eyes through the wafts of steam.
The eyes expected a nod,
an acknowledgment, an affirmation.
Please be careful, they said.
It really is quite hot.

They nodded,
pulling the mug from his grasp
and slowly to their lips.
He watched them carefully,
retrieving and sampling from his own cup of tea.
As they went to drink, they could feel from the steam,
it would burn if they drank it now.
So they retreated, looking up again,
with eyes that said
I did as you asked, I was patient.
I was careful. I will wait
until it is not so hot.

He smiled his approval,
proud of their restraint.
Here, he said. Let me help.
He set his own cup aside once more.
It was a strong brew,
with ratios of his own design.
It could do with another minute to steep,
and cool.
Then he knelt before them,
and cupped their hands in his own
leaning forward to blow cool air
across the surface of their mug.
The smells of the rich, dark coffee
and the splash of crème liqueur
deepened and swirled into a tapestry
of comforting images in their mind,
painted by the warmth of his hands
and his voice.

The twine-bound spine of an old
but well taken care of leather book
gives a gentle creak as it opens.
The mildly tea-stained paper beneath answers with its
gentle crinkling.
On old familiar conversation.
The story begins at the base of a gentle waterfall,
Halfway along a less gentle river.
The rocks beneath the water have been smoothing for eons.
It’ll be eons more before they’re as smooth as they appear
through the water
that overlays green flashes across the bubbling
texture of the rock bed.
And the mist in the air dances and settles,
dances and settles
like velvet.

Their eyes met
through blooming curtains of steam.
Love is hot, the eyes agreed.
But let’s leave careful
for the Coffee and the Tea.

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