By: Adora Brown

In the kitchen sat four identical teacups. Each had the same swirly designs, as paint danced along every curve and crevice. Mama told me I couldn’t touch the teacups. They are not your toys, she would say. But now, Mama doesn’t seem to care about her good china anymore. Inside those cups sat cold chamomile, Papa’s favorite. But Papa and the boys never returned.

In the kitchen there is a window. In the corner is a small crack where Billy nearly shattered the smudged glass into a million pieces. There are two symmetrical lines of dust along the windowsill. Each day Mama would open that window, hoping to catch a glimpse of the troops finally returning home, hoping to see our broken family again. Correction, nearly broken. Just as Billy’s baseball nearly broke the window. There’s still hope, Mama mutters to herself sometimes.

In the kitchen there are ghosts. A small remnant of what used to be our family. Papa would sip his tea as the boys would dance around the kitchen table singing jolly tunes. Mama would scold them, but I would catch her small smiles from time to time.

In the kitchen there is a letter. It sits on the counter, taunting me, but I don’t dare move it. When Mama opened that yellow envelope she dropped her teacup, that fine piece of good china she once cared so much about, to the floor. It shattered, breaking into hundreds of little pieces. MIA, Mama whispered. Missing in Action, three words that broke apart our family. Not nearly, anymore. Completely, utterly, shattered. The remnants of what used to be now strewn across the kitchen floor. Delicate, sharp, shards of us. Now Mama sits upstairs, broken. Papa and my two older brothers, three teacups, but the tea is no longer warm. And me, an empty cup in an empty family.