"Radiant inverted question mark, Sneaveweedle, where have you been? It feels as if I sent you for tea three months ago!" Penhill bellowed. "And what on earth are you doing on the floor?!"
"Oh moan," whimpered the travelling assistant. "I'm terribly sorry, but I'm not very stable on moving trains; I had to crawl back from the snacks trolley to avoid spilling the tea."
Penhill stared down at Sneaveweedle for a moment, then at the two paper cups in Sneaveweedle's hands. He took in a deep, whistling breath through his nose.
"Did it not occur to you to ask for a lid?" Penhill asked.
He took the cups of tea and Sneaveweedle climbed back into his seat in a graceless, flailing all-hands fumble across Moonfloat that resembled a teenage boy's first endeavour to second base. Each attempt to avoid touching her inappropriately resulted in making things worse; when he pulled back his hands to avoid touching her stomach, he fell face-first into her breasts. He eventually found his seat with the assistance of Penhill's shillelagh, which dug into his sternum and shoved him to his spot.
Sneaveweedle stared back in red-faced horror and embarrassment at Moonfloat, whose face was also red, but from laughter.
"For future reference," she giggled, "a woman expects dinner before you attempt something like that."
Sneaveweedle made a high-pitch squeak and attempted to hide by pulling up the collar of his green windcheater and slouching.
"I can read your tea bags for you if you'd like," Moonfloat said, pointing an unpolished fake fingernail at the cups of tea balanced in Penhill's left hand.
"You want to read the tea bags?" he sniffed.
"Yeah. I can do tea leaves, too, but no one drinks loose-leaf tea anymore, do they? So, I thought to myself one day, 'Oh, I'll have a go with the bags.' It's not as clear as the leaves, mind you, but it works."
"Indeed" Penhill said, plucking a tea bag from one of the cups. "Ah yes, I see what you mean. This tea bag is most certainly telling me something. It's coming in quite clearly, now: This tea is cold! It is undrinkable, Sneaveweedle."
Moonfloat ignored him, pulling a small square of blue plastic from her purse and placing it on the floor. She took the tea bag from Penhill's hand and dropped it onto the square.
"Hmm, OK..." she muttered, reaching down to pick up the square. She looked at it for a second, wiped it off on her skirt and placed it back on the floor. She then removed the tea bag from the second cup of tea, also dropping it on the square.
"There, you see?" she said, pointing to the floor.
"Brilliant," Penhill muttered. "You've made a mess. Congratulations. You don't charge people for this, I hope."
"See how the splatter pattern is similar to the other tea bag?" Moonfloat said. "That means your destinies are linked."
"And this long tea splatter means an adventure," she continued, pointing to a pattern that extended beyond the plastic square, "an adventure in, well, in that direction."
"Oh, I say," Sneaveweedle moaned, coming out of his windcheater cocoon. "That is quite exciting. An adventure, Sir Penhill. In that direction."
Sneaveweedle followed the direction of his own pointing out the window to a panoramic mid-afternoon view of the Pembrokeshire coast. The sun shone brilliantly. The train was pulling into Fishguard Harbour -- a strange lost fishing village amid green coastal cliffs. It was the sort of picture they put in holiday brochures or on the walls at chain hotels, but for the enormous Stena Line and Irish Ferries boats in dock. The ferries were like shining white office buildings turned on their sides and set on waves of light.
"In that direction is nothing but open sea. Ireland is over there," Penhill boomed, nodding to the right of where Sneaveweedle and the tea splatters were pointing. "The ferry would have to be horribly off course for us to end up in that direction."
"I'm afraid tea bags aren't very clear, Mr. Penhill," Moonfloat said. "But they are also never wrong."
The above is a piece of Flickr Fiction, inspired by this photo from user Dejon. I am quite out of practice in Flickr Fiction and creative writing in general at the moment, so keen observers will note that the photo doesn't particularly match the story I've written. That said, the two things that stood out for me in the picture were sunlight and a sense of adventure. That's what I've written on.
Also playing along this week are: Donal, Elisa, Sarah, and Tadmack.
You can catch up on previous episodes of Penhill and Sneaveweedle here. With this and a few other episodes, I have written in some necessary direction for myself, but for the most part the story is being written as I go along. I would love your input and ideas on where you think things should go from here.
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15 hours ago