Warm-Up Wednesdays | Pine Needle Tea | 10/26/2022

I woke up blearily at 4 AM one morning after having a dream (nightmare?) about this spooky little concept. Wintry creepy young love, let’s goooo—!

The girl only saw him in winter. To call him a boy might be too charitable. It was more the form of a boy held together by ragged clothing and furs. If these were removed, she has no doubt he would fall to pieces and break, icicles on stone.

Her walks in the woods were for tea ingredients. Her mother said she could have any tea she liked. She need not settle for needles plucked from the ground or trees. But she loved walking in the forest with sharp needles prickling her fingers and sticky sap gluing them together.

The boy trailed behind along her. Bluish-black fingers curled like claws at his sides. Steam wafted from between cracked-bloody lips. His eyes shared the qualities of the surface of a frozen lake; hard and cold and promising danger beneath.

She was too sheltered to recognize the smell of carrion cutting through the clean clarity snow offered. Even if she had, she would have invited him to tea regardless.

He stared down at her, breathing from his mouth. Then he seemed to grow self-conscious, teeth clicking together as he shut it. His nose shone with snot. It crooked in two places. The stableboy got into a fight last season and, too embarrassed to tell anyone, hid his face until it healed all wrong. This boy looked like he let that happen twice.

She offered him tea and cookies. The cookies were store-bought since she could not pick them up off of the forest floor, but that did not make them any less magical. He would take none, so in that way he had something in common with the other guests at her tea parties, stuffed animals and her father’s hunting dogs (who were too well-trained to do anything but stare and drool). But he sank down to sit in the snow across from her and that was enough.

The girl drank her cold tea and smiled at him. She didn’t know how to set broken noses or keep ice from melting or properly fear. A wolf could sink its teeth into her and she would still wonder at the softness of its fur.

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