my fiction: the cups

Here’s a story I wrote way back 6 April 1988 for a Creative Writing class at the University of the Philippines. In 1991, I entered it into a short story writing contest sponsored by Woman’s Day magazine and Clover typewriters. This story was one of the finalists. Because my story placed, I was invited by Woman’s Day publisher Solar Books to submit a romance novel, published in 1993 as “Fire and Ice”.

Wedgewood jasperware cup. Image here.

THE CUPS

They were sitting at the table, the old man and the elderly woman. His sparse gray hair, like moss on polished wood, contrasted with hers, egg-shell white. Lines of age wove a net of time across their faces; the lips were dry and faded, the lashes brittle, the eyes dead.

They were drinking thick native barako coffee from the gilded Wedgewood teacups that they used only for special occasions.

“When — what time is it happening?” she asked, a slight tremor in her voice. “The radio said six o’clock,” he replied calmly. “It’s already a quarter to six.”

They were afraid, these two, but resigned. Years of weary effort had ingrained in them an acceptance of the inevitable, but had not wholly dulled their emotions. But of what use was hysteria at such a time? They knew better. And found comfort in each other, at the last.

“Only two more minutes, dear,” he breathed. “I–I want you to know — I’m happy here right now, with you.” She smiled, the movement drawing her cheeks back. “I am too. Thank you.” One glance at each other. The years, the memories, slipped by.

They lifted their cups, and sipped.

At that exact moment, twenty miles away, a one-megaton nuclear warhead exploded, spewing deadly radiation, instantly killing all life within a hundred-mile radius.

The teacups fell to the floor, and shattered.

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  1. [...] contest, sponsored by Clover Typewriters. (That’s how long ago this was.) I turned in only one story, something I had written for a creative writing course in [...]

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