Tea tasted sweet or bitter depending on her mood, though she always made it the same way every evening. It was bitter on this day of mourning.

The teaspoon clicked against fine white china decorated in blue ink. The pattern looked different to Heyuan. Today, it looked like a dragon. The steam danced in a similar shape to the cup’s design, dissipating under Heyuan’s chin. It was usually comforting, but this evening, it made it harder for her to breathe.

Ancestors never showed up when they were requested, but they understood when they were needed most. She thought of the tea dragon as her ancestor and released the breath she was holding.

Chinese opera floated in from the window, the high-pitched voice occasionally drowned out by… she wasn’t quite sure what. It didn’t matter anyhow. It was only background noise to Heyuan. She didn’t bother trying to listen to the words. Lingering attachments would only make leaving more difficult.

Heyuan’s tea sat untouched today.

There was a knock on her door. The tea was long since cold. The dragon flew elsewhere.

Soon, she, too, would fly elsewhere. Heyuan already withheld for as long as she could, but her home here would no longer exist the next week. She poured the tea down the sink and left the china. She would not bring it with her.

Ai Jiang is a Chinese-Canadian writer and an immigrant from Fujian. She draws on cultures and landscapes of the lands she has walked for inspiration. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Dark, Hobart Pulp, Haunted Waters Press, Jellyfish Review, among others. Find her on Twitter (@AiJiang_) and online (http://aijiang.ca).

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Every Day Fiction