It was a day where the weather seemed determined to remain dreary. The sun threatened to peek through the clouds, but never did. It was too warm for thick coats and too cold for thin coats. The snow didn’t melt all the way, but remained slushy. It spilled onto the walkways and mixed with mud and brown, dead leaves that stuck to everyone’s shoes and froze their feet and ankles.
Charlie wanted to collect pine cones for a school project. Marianne had paperwork to do, so Isaac and Charlie walked to the park nearby. Once they arrived, Charlie forgot all about his project and ran over to the swings. He reached out for the closest swing and paused.
He whirled and frowned. “They’re all wet.”
“You could try to shake the water off.”
Charlie trudged through the slush back to the path. “That’s no good. It won’t work.”
“Well, let’s just go look at the big pine tree then.” Isaac led the way to the tree. He had to jump to pull down the lowest branches. They found two pine cones.
“That’s not enough. Are there any other branches you can reach?” Charlie looked around the park. “What about those bushes? They look like they might be little pine trees.”
“Let’s go see.” Isaac followed Charlie this time, trying to step on the firmest bits of mud or snow. His jeans were soaked halfway to the knees. He couldn’t feel his toes.
Charlie found five more little pine cones on the bushes. “Do you see any more?” he asked.
Isaac looked at the bushes. “No. Do you have enough for your project?”
“I guess so. Let’s go home.”
They changed out of their muddy shoes and clothes and into pajamas and slippers. Isaac was sure he’d be grateful to feel his toes again, once they stopped hurting. Charlie met him in the kitchen.
“Can we have hot cocoa? It was cold outside.”
Isaac smiled. “Of course we can. Let me get out the cocoa mix.”
“I’ll get the mugs and spoons.” Charlie opened the cupboard and started rummaging around. “I want the red one. Where’s yours?”
“It should be in there.” Isaac turned on the stove and started to heat some milk.
“Here it is. Oops.” There was a loud crash.
Isaac turned around. “What happened? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Charlie was standing next to the shattered remains of Isaac’s favorite mug.
Isaac turned around to turn the stove off and took a deep breath before he turned back to Charlie. “It’s fine. I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Do you think we can fix it?” Charlie reached for one of the pieces.
“Stop, it’s sharp. I’ll clean it up and make the cocoa. Why don’t you show your mom those pine cones, and I’ll call you in when it’s done.”
Charlie’s eyes watered and the edges of his mouth pinched. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to break it.”
“I know. It’s okay.” Isaac gave him a hug and then a little push towards the door. “Go on. I’ll call you back in soon.”
Isaac looked down at the splintered remains of his sky blue mug. It looked like a bit of summer sky lay broken in pieces on the kitchen floor. With a sigh, he got the broom and swept it up. Then he made the cocoa and called in Charlie and Marianne.
Isaac tried to mostly forget the mug. A few days later, he was shuffling through the cupboard for mugs for cocoa again, feeling a little sad. He found Charlie’s red mug and Marianne’s black and white mug. He was reaching for the green mug that no one liked, when he saw something sky blue near the back of the cupboard. This was odd, because his mug was the only sky blue dish they had, and it was broken into tiny pieces and gone. He moved the other cups, and pulled out a sky blue mug.
Was it fixed by brownies or elves like in the story about the shoemaker? Did he need to leave out a saucer of milk to say thank you? Or did modern elves and brownies prefer something else? Orange juice? Cocoa?
Maybe the mug was self-repairing. Did that mean it was sentient? Did it mind being a mug? How would he ask its opinion? It did return to the cupboard, so it must not mind that much.
As Isaac was holding the mug and trying to figure out what happened, Marianne finished mixing up the cocoa. “Oh, I see you found the mug. Charlie insisted we had to get you a new one. We had to go to three different stores to find one just that color.”
Isaac smiled. The mug shone bright in the dim kitchen, just the color of a summer day. When Charlie came in, he gave him a hug. “Thank you for getting me a new mug.”
Charlie smiled. “I’m glad we found one that color. It’s your favorite, right?”
They drank their hot cocoa and laughed and talked. Even though the weather was just the same as it had been all week, in their kitchen it felt like the sun had come out at last.