Archive for December 7th, 2021

Advent 2021 – December 7

December 7 – Lai

“Speaking of tea…” Lai Zhao, one of Molly’s best friends, came up to the tree as Father Christopher stepped down. Her long shining black hair hung loose to her waist, echoing the shine of her high boots. She was dressed in her normal jeans and a large sweater. “There was really only one ornament I could think to bring here.”

She looked over at Molly as she said, “I was born here in the Cove, but my parents moved when I was very young, and I didn’t have any choice in the matter. By the time I was able to move back, I was in grade school, and it can be hard to make friends suddenly at that stage.”

“Oh…” Molly’s hand came up to her mouth as she saw the ornament Lai held aloft. When the grey cleared, she was watching a much younger but still stylish Lai and her own grade-school aged self, peeking over the edges of their books at each other. They were in the library at Daughter of Stars Middle School, and Molly remembered wondering if this new girl would fit in. 

You really were a tomboy, weren’t you? Schrodinger said, and she smiled.

“Always,” she said, looking at the ratty jeans and her father’s handmedown sweater her younger self was wearing. “Dresses were the devil.”

Past-Molly finally put her book down and reached out her hand to Lai. “Hi, I’m Molly. I see you like fantasy too. Have you read the Dragonriders books yet?”

Past-Lai took her hand. “I think so? Those are the Anne McCaffrey ones, right?”

Past-Molly nodded. “My aunt runs the bookstore in town. Want to come with me after school? We’re decorating the tree, and Aunt Margie said she needed help.” She cocked her head. “And there will be tea.”

“Tea?” Past-Lai perked up. “Like, real tea?”

“Well, yeah.” Past-Molly sounded a little offended. “I don’t like regular tea bags. They’re too weak.”

“Agreed,” Past-Lai said. “I’d love to.”

You really do just adopt people, Schrodinger said. 

“I recognize kindred souls,” Molly admitted. 

So what’s the ornament?

Molly smiled, and closed her eyes. When she opened them, they were back, and Lai was hanging the delicate china tea cup that Molly had given her that Christmas. There were four of the cups that she’d found: one hung on her tree, and one each had gone to her friends, the Terrible Trio, as her mother had dubbed them. The cup was painted with elegant holly leaves and edged with silver, as if kissed by the snow before it was dry.

“What else would it be?” she said.

Lai looked over at her again. “I’ve never not put this up on my tree, and I know the others have theirs still as well. It’s a symbol of friendship that will never, ever be severed, and I treasure that more than anything. It’s fitting that it goes on to this tree.” She smiled. “Especially if you’re doing what I think you are.”

Jade looked innocent. “I’m just encouraging the resumption of an old tradition.”

“Sometimes, those are the best.” Lai stepped back into the crowd.

“What did she mean?” Drew asked Molly quietly. She wondered if he was seeing what she and Schrodinger were.

“No idea,” Molly said, although that wasn’t quite true. “I’m sure we’ll find out, though.”