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Tea With Gracie

by Sara Harricharan  
3/18/2008 / Short Stories

Kelsey tilted her hair-bow back to the right. "I hope I don't get stuck with Gracie Mannsfield. She's a brat!"

"And if you were her adopted big sister for the past six months, you'd drop her because you don't like who she is in person?" Layla tapped her feet.

"You're too nice." Kelsey retorted. "Stop doing that with your feet."

"My shoes are tight." Layla looked up as Mrs. Perkins entered the Sabbath school room.

"Good morning, girls!" Her cheerful voice faded against the drone of the air-conditioning unit. "I'm sure you're all excited to meet your 'little sisters', so I won't keep you waiting. I just want thank you all so much for taking time out of your busy high-school lives to offer a hand of friendship to these blooming young souls!"

Rising with the others, Layla watched as the luncheon coordinator admitted the younger girls.

They lined up in rows opposite of each other, heads bent, as they read the words on their clue cards.

Layla squinted at hers. "Will be wearing the latest pastel-what?"

"That would be me, Ms. Kensington." The unmistakable voice of Gracie Mannsfield was attached to the 10-year-old body dwarfed in pastel ribbons.

"Gracie?" Layla exclaimed.

"You're surprised, aren't you?" Gracie sighed. "I suppose I could have done worse."

"I beg your pardon?" Layla shifted from one foot to the other.

"I could have gotten your friend, Ms. Kelsey Crowe. She hates me." Gracie straightened her flowered sash. "Shall we go? The tea party is beginning any moment now."

"Uh, sure, I'll follow you." Layla limped after her. Gracie was ten going on fifty at this rate.

Gracie wrinkled her nose. "We're sitting next to Ms. Lowell."

"Ms. Lowell?" Layla darted a glance around the occupants of the surrounding tables.

"Shirley Lowell." Gracie said, meaningfully. "She's horrible."

"I see." Layla kicked off her shoes, wiggling her toes in the spring air. That felt much better. Now to find the little sister she'd been writing to. "Shall I pour tea?"

Gracie's jaw dropped. "Where did you learn to do that?" She breathed.

"Do what?" Layla looked at her hands and the silver teapot. Everything looked fine.

"Pour with your fingers curled." Gracie blinked. "You didn't spill a drop!"

Layla shrugged. "Mum owned a teahouse in New York. I was the assistant hostess."

Gracie's eyes grew wide. "The Kensington teahouses? You're famous!"

"Not really." Layla offered the creamer.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"You never asked." Layla lifted the cup and saucer for a dainty sip.

"You don't look the type, or I would've asked!" Gracie nibbled on a bit of scone.

"I thought I told you to never judge people by the outside." Layla frowned, puzzled. "Didn't I?"

"Letter number twenty-six, paragraph three." Gracie sighed. "It's so hard."

"You remember the exact letter?" Layla stared at her.

Gracie shrugged. "So?"

A soft smile touched Layla's lips. Perhaps there was hope after all. "That's awfully sweet of you, Gracie. Would you like to pour?"

Sara Harricharan is a young Christian woman with a passion for writing for the Lord through faith-filled Science Fiction/Fantasy stories and pure words.

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