Every once in a while I get in a creative mood where I write children’s stories to vicariously solve or explain my recent problems. Children’s stories just make everything better. Maybe someday there will be illustrations. Enjoy!
The Tea Cup Collector, an allegory.
Once there was a little girl named Lee. She collected tea cups.
She loved bright red ones, and white porcelain ones with blue cows and maids wearing wooden shoes, very shiny steel teacups, and round, pink, princess tea cups.
She would stack them high and low and far and wide.
She would fill them with tea, or have parties with friends. She would put them on shelves, or balance them on her head.
People would give her tea cups for her birthday, or she would find one left alone and chipped and dust it off and take it home.
“Oh, what pretty little things, so delicate!” guests would say. Lee would take one off the shelf, give it two soft pats, fill it with warm tea, and give it to her new friend.
But though Lee had many friends, the stacks still became quite high. They teetered and swayed, holding up one another. They clinked in the swift spring breeze.
Lee walked into a small shop one day. The place was full of little treasures that sparkled in dusty windowsills.
“I have just the thing for you,” said the old man at the counter. He pulled out a yellow tea cup with a red border, a perfect bowl in his wrinkled hands. “I have heard of you,” he said. “You collect fragile gems. They come to you and you give them away.”
Lee blushed. The old man pointed to a tiny dancer on the chinese cup, one leg was perched as the dancer balanced on the other. Her small palms faced up and her long fingernails pointed out. Her nose pointed upward, and on it balanced a white tea cup. In her two outstretched arms the dancer held two sticks in the centers of her hands, on the sticks were stacks of tea cups three each. A fragile pyramid.
“One wrong step and they fall,” the old man said. “The ancient dancers knew their limits. They felt the rhythm of the tea cups as the teetered and swayed. One cup too many and they came crashing to the ground.”
“The secret,” he said as he winked, “is to find a center. See how she balances with open hands, sticks resting in the perfect center of her palms?” Lee nodded.
He handed the cup to Lee. “Balance well.” He said.
Lee walked home with the yellow tea cup. “A lovely fit for my collection!” she thought. She wondered if anyone would take it home with them soon, if she’d hold on to it to remember the old man’s words.
She carefully opened her crickety house door. She danced in and out of stacks of tea cups, never touching a single one. A flick of her dress could send them toppling. She held the yellow cup in her hand and imagined the dancer balancing all of the cups in her house. Lee came to the center of the room, where her favorite tea cups were all stacked up in a tall stack reaching to the ceiling.
“This will be my last one,” she thought. “A final tea cup for a perfect collection, and in the very center of my house so that everyone can see!” She was so proud of her yellow dancer teacup.
Lee put a ladder next to her stack of tea cups. She climbed to the very tip top of her favorite tower in the very center of the room. With her fingers wrapped around the handle of the tea cup she slowly reached out and set it upon the top of her tower. “Just one more,” she thought. Her heart thumped in steady beats. Her face red with concentration, tongue tucked in the side of her mouth. She looked at the dancer, who stared back in perfect poise as Lee lifted her fingers from the cup.
She slowly backed away, watching the tower. It swayed to the left, it swayed to the right. Slowly it quivered into place for a small minute, as Lee kept eye contact with the dancer.
Lee released a big sigh and grinned. She looked down. The moment her eyes left the dancer the tower came crashing down. In one fell swoop it came, almost in slow motion, and then exploding against the hard floor.
The crash was so loud it shook the house. Like dominos each stack fell to its knees, breaking into a million pieces. Years of meticulous gathering shattered. Broken glass lain at Lee’s feet as she looked upon the ruins.
She stepped down the ladder, into the sheet fragmented tea cups, each step breaking little pieces into small ones. Slow crunches like leaves in the fall.
She went to the middle of the room, where the pile of her favorite broken tea cups sat in a pathetic heap. At the very top was the yellow tea cup, without a scratch, the dancer’s hands outstretched, holding her tea cups in flawless elegance, palms opened upward, her toes in pointe.
Lee picked up the cup. She lifted one leg up and balanced it on the other, mimicking the dancer. Tilting her head up, she placed the yellow tea cup upon her nose, and stretched her arms out, palms up, balancing upon her fallen tower.