The Mug Converter is another story I wrote to a Mash Stories prompt. Recently I felt compelled to edit and grow this tiny fiction. I hope you enjoy it.
The Mug Converter
When the postman called, ‘Delivery!’ and held out the electronic signing thingamabob, Lani let out a squeal. She was expecting the package, yes, but she was excited mostly due to the fact she didn’t know what to expect from it.
She did this regularly, order an item online without really understanding it, because the object seemed:
C. a real bargain.
The Mug Converter promised to be all three and, although she couldn’t be sure from the website’s translation, she missed a breath when she peeled the plastic down to its brown paper and string.
Her husband used to think her propensity for online ordering was an eccentricity, and that her eccentricities were endearing. But, in the time since their hearts had seized up, he’d become gruff and critical of her spending.
‘We could have put that money towards our next overseas trip,’ he’d say, whether it was two dollars or two hundred. In four years of marriage, they’d not been to the coast, let alone overseas.
Nevertheless, his words gave her sufficient guilt to ensure she kept her purchases small, so that she could to cover the cost of her little excitements from within her meagre allowance. Like this one.
She removed her purchase from the cardboard packaging that screamed: MUG CONVERT DRINK TO HAPPY TIMES FOR YOU!
From the outside, the Mug Converter looked like an ordinary white mug, albeit studded with plastic gems. Probably not dishwasher safe. Inside, was a block of colour. She’d chosen orange from the gallery because she’d always liked orange and the website had encouraged her to go with the colour that felt right.
At least that’s what Lani thought it meant. The phrase on the website actually read: ‘Select the interior that sings happiness for you!’
She rotated the Mug Converter in her hands, unsure of how to activate it. There were no instructions attached. She held it to her ear and listened. She heard the ocean, like the sound of the sea in a shell. It wasn’t exactly singing, and it certainly was not singing happiness, but it was hard to be disappointed with the ebb and flow of the waves in her ear.
Then she filled it with hot tea. If nothing else, the Mug Converter would make a well-priced beverage holder.
Mug Converter in hand, she walked the house too big for two. She had intended to sit on the verandah, among the jacarandas and overgrown wisteria, but stopped short at the second last door on the right, marked with a frangipani she had painted herself. Eva’s room.
Lani hadn’t opened this door for more than a year. It was pink and pristine. She ran fingers along the cot’s crisp linen to the kitten toy that mewed with her touch. Her heart took up its beat again, and her eyes made rainpock ripples in the tea.
She blew a kiss when she shut the door and she cried hard, and her cries found a harmony with the background strains of the TV that sighed with the sobs of lost refugee children, a senator imploring her — ‘Yes, you!’ — to volunteer a room. She smeared away the tears and dialled the number on the screen.
That night, when her husband stepped through the door, she told him, ‘I bought a Mug Converter today.’
And, sitting him down very gently, she handed him a cup of tea.