Short Stories. 1. Jazmine by Gabi Plumm

For anyone who might wonder where the title Teapots came from, I thought it would be fun to publish a short story that I wrote just prior to starting the Teapots Trilogy.

Here it is: It’s called Jazmine, by Gabi Plumm.

‘I am worried about Jazmine. She’s obsessed with teapots, and she’s only six. Ever since she saw her brother, Michael, performing, “I’m a little teapot short and stout, here’s my handle, here’s my spout, pick me up and pour me out,” in a school play, she’s been running all over the house bending sideways with one hand on her waist and sticking the other out at right angles like a spout. I think she thinks liquid will come out of her hand if she just goes on doing it. I’m sure it started with the school sketch.

‘The other day I caught her with two friends who had tied a running hosepipe to her arm. My teapot daughter was watering one of my carefully landscaped petunia beds. Seemed like a nice thing to do but I am still worried.

‘I suppose as long it’s only a teapot she’s being I can let her stew for a while.

‘What should I do — take her to the doctor and say, this is my daughter and she thinks she’s a teapot? He’ll just say, “Better that than a chain saw.” Yes, it is better than a chain saw but it’s driving me mad.

‘Maybe it’s me that’s the problem, not her. I used to be obsessed with teapots when I was younger, but I was over it by the time I was 42; I guess there’s hope.

‘Is it hereditary do you think? Is it possible that my early obsession with teapots has somehow leeched into her by genetic default? Maybe I should look deeper.

When I was obsessed with teapots it was because I had adopted the idea that everyone should have a hobby; a collection of some sort. My mother-in-law used to collect Copenhagen China. But my father — altogether another matter — used to collect burnt matchsticks. He smoked a pipe, one of those curly ones. He used the long matches because the tobacco never caught straight away; he would never entertain the idea of employing a cigarette lighter, they were for cigarettes. When the matches were dead he would line them up like little charred soldiers and arrange them in a wooden box, like a coffin. When he died there were thousands of them in a huge heap like a pile of miniature kindling. Maybe I have inherited OCD and passed it on to Jazmine.

‘She talks to her teapot self when her mates aren’t here. Conversations of deadly seriousness about the importance of the drain — what drain? Draining the leaves? God, what is she talking about? I could ask her I suppose. I might try that next time I see her doing the teapot lean.

‘One day, just before supper, I said, “Jaz, Does your teapot have a name?” Tentative. Careful.

“Of course not, Mummy, it’s just a teapot.” Put me in my place.

“Oh. Ok.“ Didn’t know what to say after that. I’ll try another tack if the teapotophobia doesn’t go away.

‘Two days later, I caught her with the hosepipe tied to her arm again, no friends this time.

“What are you doing, Jaz?”

“The garden needs some tea Mummy, can’t you see that?” So sure of herself, I am caught off guard. I need to get to the bottom of this.

“OK. Yes, it is looking a bit dry darling, but why tea? Wouldn’t it prefer water?”

“Oh Mummy, of course it wants water, that’s what tea is isn’t it? I’m just giving it a drink. Like Daddy does.”

“What do you mean, like Daddy does.”

“Daddy comes out and gets his hose pipe out and waters the garden. He taught Michael to do it too, that’s why Michael likes doing the teapot song. He gets to drain the water with Daddy.”

A sneaky suspicion is tickling my brain cells. Daddy watering the garden? He never touches the bloody garden. He hates the bloody garden; resents me being in the bloody garden.

‘I inspect my colourful beds and notice, for the first time, they’re a bit jaded; my glorious, purple, pink and white petunias are looking a bit sad, leaves yellowing off, flowers dying, and a thought pricks the ether, invades my awareness and a light bulb goes off.

My husband has taught Michael to pee in the garden, on my petunias. HE is peeing on my petunias; he hates my petunias. He is draining the hosepipe. Bloody cheek!

Men are disgusting. They pee everywhere just because they can. And they pee at night and don’t flush – bright yellow neon wee in the pan in the morning.

****

“Cup of tea darling?” I enquire. It’s Saturday morning, a day for a lazy lie in.

“That’d be nice darl, ta.” Back to his Telegraph colour pullout.

I slip into the bathroom, bottle in hand, want to hold my nose but don’t. Fill the bottle and off to the kitchen.

Jazmine and Michael are up too, wandering, pyjama-clad into our room ready for a morning cuddle. The kettle boils, and I mix up a pot of tea and pee. I lay two pink flowery mugs next to a small bud vase with three petunias in. The yellow leaves complement the floral patterned tray.

I place one mug on his bedside table. With his nose still glued to the sports page he reaches for the cup, puts it straight to his horrid, flower-hating little mouth and takes a sip.

“Mm! Interesting flavour, darl, did you change your brand? You not having any?”

I hold my breath, stare at him, waiting for the explosion.

“Did you sugar it, darl, tastes a bit odd?”

“Oh, no silly me. Hang on; here you go.”  I ladle two heaped ones into his cup.

“Oh, that’s better. Like it, darl, what’s it called?”

I can’t believe my ears.

“Weeshlong Peekoe. Made my own brand, Bob.”

“Yep, unusual flavour. Bet it’s from your bloody garden, isn’t it?”

****