Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Siri

“Grandma, why do people call you eerie Siri?”

“I guess it’s because they think I’m strange.”

“Strange in what way?”

“It think it’s because of my right eye.”

“You can’t help that.”

“I know, Baby but that’s how folks are. They get scared when they see something they don’t like or don’t understand. Don’t let it bother you too much. It stopped bothering me a long time ago. I just let people be. As long as they treat me with respect when they come into my shop, then, I have no problems with them. I can take their ignorance, their fear but not their disrespect.”

“Do you think that priest is going to come?”

“He’s a man of God, isn’t it?”

“That doesn’t mean anything. Those people are supposed to be Christians aren’t they yet no body said hello or spoke to me before or after Mass. I don’t like going to that church, Grandma. I only went because you asked me to. I gave your note to one of the nuns and she promised to give it to the Father. She was friendly. She asked me to tell you that the orphans loved the toys and books you donated last week.”

“I wish I was there to see the smiles on their faces. It’s true what the Good book says, it’s more blessed to give than to receive.”

“Do you miss going to church?”

“Yes, I do. But I read my Bible and worship everyday. The Lord understands that I can’t get about like I used to. I only have one good eye now and the pain in my knees are getting worse. Still, I have much to be thankful for. Now, you mind the shop while I go and fix some tea for the Father. Nothing like breaking bread over a nice hot cup of tea and some freshly baked Apple scones with blackberry compote.”

“Yes, Grandma.”

Just then, the door opened and Father Kowalski walked in. He smiled first at her grandmother, “Hello,” he said. “Thank you for inviting me to tea, Mrs. Siri. I have been looking forward to it all day.”

Siri chuckled. “You’re always welcome, Father. This is my grand-daughter, Clara.”

He turned to look at Clara. “Yes, you were in church this morning. I’m sorry you had to leave in such a hurry.”

“You seemed busy so I left. I gave Grandma’s note to the Sister.”

“Yes, she gave it to me. I hope you will come to church again next week.”

Clara didn’t answer.

“Well, Father, let’s go and have our tea and scones. Clara won’t be joining us. She will be holding down the fort.” She got up from behind the counter. “This way.”

He glanced at Clara before he followed Siri to the back of the shop, through a hallway which led to the house. While she encouraged him to have a seat in the living-room, she went and got the tea and scones.

Photo by Vladimir Soares on Unsplash

What was all the fuss about? He had only just met Mrs. Siri and already he had warmed to her. In some ways, she reminded him of his own grandmother whom he had adored.

“Do you live here alone?”

“No. Clara lives with me. Both of her parents are dead. Her mother died when she was five and her father died three years ago. She doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. She’s a bright girl. And even though she doesn’t like to go to church, she loves the Lord and reads His Word every day.”

“Mrs. Siri, these scones are delicious. I think they’re the best I have ever tasted.”

She chuckled. “Thank you, Father. Help yourself to some more.”

“This takes me back to when on some Sunday afternoons, my brother, sisters and I used to have my grandmother’s Szarlotka. That’s Polish apple pie. It was our reward whenever we behaved ourselves in church.”

“You’re very fond of your grandmother, aren’t you?”

“Yes. I am. She taught me so much about life and God.”

“Is she still alive?”

“No. She passed away a few years.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“She’s in Heaven smiling down on me.”

Siri smiled. “I’m sure she is, Father.”

They talked about other things and then it was time for him to leave. After thanking her for the tea and scones, he bade her farewell, promising to stop by again for another visit. He retraced his steps back to the shop. Clara was sitting behind the counter flipping through a magazine but closed it and set it aside when he appeared.

“Thanks for coming,” she said. “My grandmother was looking forward to your visit.”

“I’m happy I came. I was blessed. Your grandmother is a very special person.”

“Yes, she is.”

“She said that you don’t like church. Why is that?”

“I stopped going to church because I don’t agree with most of the teachings. They are not biblical.”

“Such as?”

“The state of the dead. I don’t believe that people go to heaven or hell or purgatory when they die.”

“What do you believe happens to them?”

“They are buried and remain in their graves until Jesus returns.”

“Since, we, Catholics don’t know the state of the souls of our loved ones when they die, it is important for us to pray for them after their death, as prayers can help souls in purgatory get to heaven faster.”

“My parents were godly people but they aren’t in heaven. They are in their graves where they will remain until Jesus comes.”

He opened his mouth to say something but just then some customers walked in. “Perhaps we can continue this discussion another time,” he said. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye.” She watched him leave.

As he headed in the direction of the church, he realized that she never once addressed him as “Father.”

Posted for August 2020 Writing Prompts ā€“ #6 ā€“ Eerie Siri

Source: Rivertea; The Boston Pilot;

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