Like the kettle on the stove the man stands with his inner turmoil boiling. Unlike that black metal lipped whiner, he does not steam or bubble as the heat rises. No, this gentleman grows quieter. Yet still, the water must come out lest it be boiled away entirely.

As he stands, sweater itching and shoulders slumping, he watches the whirlwind plume spiral outward. The shrieking white wind crying in ways he could only dream enviously of. Stoically, the man removes a poorly cared for cup from the cupboard. Its stain's: deep brown streaks, nearly impossible to remove after years of neglect, orbit the sides. He doesn't mind—the circles around the cup's inner walls remind him of old trees, their age and hardship's marked for all to see. Like a stop watch, the mug marks how many nights he has performed this ritual.

Quiet amidst the storm of steam, he deposits a teabag in the cup and retrieves the milk from the refrigerator. A swirl of white, and a splash of brandy completes his faithful companion. Alone with the chill of the room, he settles down and takes a sip. The warmth is welcomed, and his eyes close in sullen reproach. It's warm, but it will not last.

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