Hangovers are never fun. The spark for this story came when my good friend Hollie was telling the hilarious tale of one challenging morning. I’ve checked, and she doesn’t mind that I’ve taken her moment of misery and built a small world around it. It’s all fictional but for that one little incident. You’ll see…
For this story, the approximate word count is 1000 words, with a reading time of 3-5 minutes.
Tea and Biscuits
G B Ralph, January 2020
It’s the day after New Year’s Day and I’m feeling fine.
Well, tolerable. There’s little point concerning myself with that though. As long as I’m in the office by 9am and looking passable, how I feel is irrelevant.
We’re given one measly day off to recuperate. It’s criminal. Everyone knows celebrating New Year’s Eve well results in a two-day hangover – minimum. It’s 2020, a brand new decade! I shouldn’t have to restrain myself, but I did. This was the year I would turn 33 after all – not old, but hardly fresh from university either. I ordered singles all night and tucked myself into bed by 4am – rather responsible these days, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Even after that angelic display of discipline and moderation, my body has still seen fit to punish me.
Yesterday, I was rotten, head to toe, like a freight train loaded with turds had ploughed through me. Today, I’m not on top form, but a vast improvement on the day before. There was that light dustiness in my head. And a faint queasiness in my stomach, like I’d eaten too many of those sad, dry, health-conscious breakfast biscuits.
What I needed was a tea and some real biscuits – biscuits with chocolate on them. Something to take my hand and gently lift me into the day.
I reached out to shut off the alarm I’d already snoozed too many times and lurched out of bed. Pulling on shorts and a t-shirt from the floor, I hoisted myself upright.
A haggard-looking face stared back from my bedroom mirror, matted hair sticking in all directions. I looked a fright.
And who was that in the bed?
Was it Ben? No… Jeremy? I don’t think so. What was he still doing here? Was he alive? Probably. Oh, there he goes, mumbling something about the pirates coming to use the toaster. Alive, then.
That wasn’t important right now. I had that tea and biscuits I’d promised myself.
I clawed my way to the kitchen and flicked on the kettle. Retrieving a clean mug and teabag from the cupboard, I noticed the remnants of last night’s doner kebabs strewn across the bench and floor. There were tufts of lettuce, smears of sauce and bits of foil – it was everywhere. But the more damning evidence was the empty bottles of fizzy wine, gin, slimline tonic, cider and beer scattered around every surface.
No matter, that was a job for the future. Present me needed tea. The kettle flicked off, returning my addled brain to the task at hand.
I rummaged through the pantry as my tea steeped, sure there was a packet of biscuits in here somewhere. I remember smashing half a packet in one sitting before Christmas, then stashing the leftovers in the pantry for just such an occasion as this. My self-restraint and emerging maturity exhibited yet again.
I just had to hope my flatmates hadn’t gotten to them. Jenny was the worst offender. A notorious snack fiend who refused to buy any herself. She was ‘on a diet’ and ‘didn’t need that kind of temptation lying around’. Well, jog on Jenny. The rest of us shouldn’t have to suffer just because you can’t control yourself.
I reached up to the shelf above the fridge which I knew was out of Jenny’s range. Sure enough, there they were – pre-Christmas me, you’re a champion.
With three dark chocolate digestives set on one small, miraculously clean plate – civilised, you see – I returned the twisted off packet to their lofty hiding spot.
My tea was almost ready. That warm, comforting aroma. I knew it would put me right.
Removing the teabag I put it in the already overflowing bin. This place was in dire need of a serious going over – future me could sort it.
Next, a dash of milk. There was even a half bottle of milk – in date! – hidden behind the booze in the fridge. Today was my day.
With a steaming mug of tea in one hand, and a small plate of chocolate biscuits in the other, I moved into the living room. If I thought the kitchen was bad, this room was next level. Though I dared not dwell on it – I was on the up and up and didn’t need this mess reminding me of recent ill-advised activities.
I cleared a space on the couch, shunting aside a pile of clothes and empty cans with one foot while balancing on the other. An impressive manoeuvre at the best of times.
Easing onto the couch, I balanced the plate on my knee and savoured the first sip of tea. Sighing with contentment, I sunk further into the tired, brown couch. I could already sense the soothing effect of the tea clearing my head and settling my stomach.
I dunked the first dark chocolate digestive, long enough to soak up the tea, but not so long it would disintegrate. Too quick and you were wasting your time, but too slow and you’d end up with mush in your mug. It was an art. I liked to think myself rather adept, and with an extensive variety of biscuits too. I realised I didn’t allow myself this simple pleasure nearly as often anymore.
The second followed in quick order – dunk and munch.
One biscuit left, and half a mug of tea. When this was done, it would be time to face the day. Face the new working year – decade even. ‘Start as you intend to continue,’ as my mother would say. This year would be my best yet, I could feel it. I knew I had it in me.
Picking up the final dark chocolate digestive I submerged it and—
What were those? Bubbles?
I pulled out prematurely to investigate. Only then did I consider the small holes in the chocolate layer. Holes which had been on all three. I know my biscuits and those imperfections were not normal.
Looking closer, that was when I saw the small maggot wriggle out.
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