The tea flowed out of the spout of the pot and into five white china mugs as the clock struck five times.
The flowery decoration on the pot had worn away, replaced by dull shades of black and grey – the result of the daily ritual of British afternoon tea.
Four of the five mugs were snatched up, and an appropriate drop of milk swiftly added to each. The working day had drawn to a close
and Margaret watched as her husband, Peter, collapsed into the maroon paddings of a leather armchair with his mug in hand.
He was still wearing his navy overalls, coated in streaks of greasy oil from slogging away in the armaments factory for hours on end.
A few strands of white hair were pressed against his gleaming scalp, revealing his fatigued and weathered countenance.
He should have been passing many more hours in this armchair,
enjoying a well-earned retirement, but when a tyrant had risen,
national duty had been rightfully prioritised over personal pleasure. Margaret stared anxiously at the clock.
She wore a bland cardigan, beige in colour, along with a grey skirt that reached down to her ankles.
Her eyes were restlessly fixated upon the clock as if she had a strange obsession with timekeeping.
Occasionally, her gaze shifted to the untouched cup of tea, getting colder by the second, as the situation seemed to get all the more serious.
Two of her grandchildren sat on the floor next to their grandfather, huddled around the wireless which was tuned to the BBC.
There should be three. He had said that he would be back by now; he had promised.
But still the cup of tea remained on the tray, undrunk, untouched, while she remained unable to rest. ‘Where is he? Where is he!’ Margaret whispered to herself.
The minute hand moved once again: five minutes past five; time was running out.
Her skirt flapped as she walked purposefully through to the kitchen and started slicing potatoes for supper,
keeping herself occupied lest her worry overwhelm her. But as the sharp, bone-handled knife cut through the spotted flesh of potato, her weathered hand trembled with trepidation.
The gentle chimes of the clock echoed around the house: Five-thirty. Margaret’s inherent maternal instinct, which had started developing fifty years ago with the birth of her own children, amplified her worry.
Her anxiety increased with every chime. He had been gone for far too long now and her delicate, brown eyes once again focused on the ticking metal hands of the grandfather clock in the hall.
Through the windows, she could see a dark lilac horizon, a sign that night was approaching fast.
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