Out & About, From the Perspective of a Teabag

Blake Omundson

@_rad_boi_

Maybe this isn’t so bad. It’s not like I was doing anything important. The wind isn’t strong enough to pick me up, but harsh enough to make me chilly; she sweeps through my fibres and washes through my insides. I get woozy after a little while. The blades of grass I lay upon tickle the seam that keeps me together. I can’t remember how I’ve found myself onto this bed of green, but I think I do much prefer it. The pitter patter of an outside dog has been much more pleasant to listen to than the high-pitched howling of the kitten atop the windowsill. Although one is much cuter than the other, the kitten’s intentions are always malign. A dog will pant and grumble and smack its lips, dampening its nose before it reaches the front door. A kitten is a beast you’ll never hear coming until it’s too late. 

But I digress, I’ve been stuck outside for what seems like days and all I remember is the hand of God—or more than likely, Marie—dragging me away from my black tea counterparts. I never really liked them though, always pointing out our differences. ‘Oi, Ginge,’ they’d shout across the jar, ‘You should meet my buddy, Milk. You two would be great together. Oh, wait, he’s an Aries, that wouldn’t work for you, would it? I bet his Mercury is in Gatorade or something.’ Just because I’m herbal, doesn’t mean I’m spiritual. 

Maybe I got flung out of the window. Marie was never any good with making tea. She insisted on leaving the windows open, letting in flies, bees, and bugs galore, claiming the family couldn’t afford the alternative. ‘AC, SchmayCee.’ It’s always a matter of survival with Marie. Her skin still shines against the sun, but she forever sounds like her mother. That, and she’d always flail her arms whenever something terribly mundane happened, trying to spruik the mood.  It always made a recipe for…

Well, I’m not too sure, but it definitely wasn’t tea. 

Out here is different. It’s peaceful. A strand of mulch from the garden bed sometimes topples its way over and keeps me company. We never really know what to say to each other, but I think it’s nice. He keeps me warm when the sun goes down and the wind gets harsher.

The sun hits my tassel the next morning. The wind blows harder than the night before, lifting my bottom off the blade of grass I’ve been lying on. It gets hard to sit here, not going anywhere. The birds never have time to talk to us or see what we’re up to. I just assumed they had somewhere else to be, but they never did.. Not a single marble is rattling around that tiny bird skull of theirs. Truly too rude. They eye me off like I’m an outsider, like I don’t belong. Can’t they see I’m full of leaves? I blend in. 

I still have a perfect view of the window I’ve been catapulted from, always open. I watch Archie inside as he makes his cup of tea, completely still. When he stirs the tea, he doesn’t clank a single edge. He slides the spoon around the rim, a ceramic shing reverberating through the garden as he lifts it out of the mug. He doesn’t make tea for Marie anymore, and I lose him as he walks into the living room. 

*

Days are getting longer and longer with fewer things to observe. I’ve been told that the most interesting people come out at night. I’m not much of a night-time gal. My blend is more suited for sleep, so I shut my eyes in hopes my imagination would run wild; I certainly can’t. The wind hasn’t blown me away just yet, nor has she even moved, almost making way for my peace and quiet, like an initiation. I lie completely still. A droplet of water appears on my top. And then another. And one more. I’m not sure why, but I thought the rain would trickle slowly down my body, instead of being absorbed by my outside. The rain continued to pour. The droplets became the size of lightbulbs as the rain dragged the largest cloud he could find, placing it above my head. The outside of me cannot handle the weight and bursts open. If Marie or Archie or one of the boys were to see me, they wouldn’t see the tear. They’d barely even see the teabag. I begin to homogenize with the soil; my tapestry deteriorates and melts into the earth. I start to feel soft and full of nature, and that’s when I’m happy. At home, I could be only used once. If I swim, or if I’m sweetened, it’s a fun ride, but I’m withered afterwards: thrown away and composted. It’s there that I’m forced to seep into the dirt with the earthworms because I’m all wrung dry, obsolete. 

Marie is looking after the kids today, without Archie. They slept for most of the day, and her smile stayed taped on her face. I never thought she would be so content in the peaceful. Marie always acts well with the kids, but she thinks something is missing. She jitters her leg in anticipation. Archie comes home from work and slams the door accidentally. The kids start crying in their cots.  

The wind and I have become very good friends. Their visits are more frequent, and we’ve started journeying together, to which I’m never told where. She has all these friends that she insists on bringing. They’re older and have started falling off the trees, meaning they’re not what they used to be. One small breeze and we’ve already lost them. Although, to be completely honest, some of them can really move. They can weasel their way into the another’s tree before you notice their absence. Most of them, however, just end up toppled on the ground. We didn’t expect anything less, but it’s always nice to see them having fun. Like the leaves, the night says their goodbyes and leaves us shrivelled and ready to crumple. All throughout the night, she never encouraged or forced anyone to do anything they didn’t want to. She just went with the flow. She placed me down closer to the garden bed, closer to the mulch, and I felt brave enough to lie on his chest.

He was asleep. I listened closely to his breathing, as he wasn’t snoring. Everyone snored in the house, even the children. Marie was never so bad, but Archie had it the worst. He had slept on the couch for eight months and it ruined his posture. Marie started calling him Captain Hook with the way his back curved, shoulders lifted up to his earlobes. I found it cute whenever he had acne or the poofiness of his hair increased tenfold of a morning, how his nametag always sat on a slant. He always hated those curls on his head.  

I think the mulch has the same defect as Archie. He must’ve been smooshed one too many times by the kids. When their parents weren’t looking, they played trampoline on the flower bed. He was dampened, and always folded into submission. I hold his hand, and hold his cane, made from the stray pieces of bark from an old friend of mine, and wonder if I’d like to go home. 

I whisper to the wind while everyone else is asleep. I told her that it’s been fun, but I know I don’t belong here, not really. She mutters in response, and lifts me up to the window ledge, a heaped mountain of teabags staring at me through the glass jar on my arrival. They seemed deflated, just like Archie’s blow-up mattress in the middle of the living room. Marie had taken the couch, and the washing machine, along with the pots, pans, their knife block, and half of the perishables, but a smile was on Archie’s face, nonetheless. It was faint and only appeared in his sleep, with both children beneath the pit of his arm. The wind told me that he’s been crying for days. She said that tonight was the first night since Marie left that Archie hadn’t spent on the kitchen tiles. Things have changed now, though. I look through myself, noticing for the first time that I wasn’t heavy enough to lift. I’m scattered, either a hump of tea leaves or a heap of soil, scurried across the off-white plank like a heap of ants finding food. I was never a fan of ultimatums, but the wind gave me one anyway.

She said I can stay here on the ledge or find my way back. I asked her if she would help me if I chose the latter. The wind comes and goes as it pleases, she says.

Author: According to most, Blake is just a silly lil fella that is trying their absolute best. They think werewolves are cool, their favourite movie is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and they have an unhealthy obsession with the Insane Clown Posse. You hear them spin their wheels at Ungrained Mag or on Instagram @_rad_boi_

Artist: SaBelle Pobjoy-Sherriff is a third year fine arts visual arts student. Her art practice uses narrative and mythology to create obscure illustrations and sculptures. Using acrylic paint and coloured pencils she creates vibrant worlds and creatures. Her current work focuses on the current climate crisis and the idea of corrupting escapism. You can find more on her Instagram @SaBelleeee.

Editors: David Farr and Sara Reeves