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  • Joan died in July. She was 94. When she was younger she learned to throw the javelin and trained for the Olympics. When she was older, she set her table for two even though she lived alone. She wanted to be ready should someone drop by for a cup of tea.

    I read about Joan in the newspaper obituaries. I imagine knocking on her door. She pours the steamy Darjeeling of her birth country into a pair of delicate cups. She serves scones stacked with towers of clotted cream. This all feels very refined and makes me a little nervous. After leaving India, Joan lived in Britain for many years. She knows everything about the teatime niceties that I certainly do not.

    When the cup touches my lips, Joan reaches across the table with her silver fork. She spears a strawberry on my plate and then hoists the fruit to her mouth. She giggles, like a little sister who has duped her big brother.

    And then I giggle, too. I decide that it is okay if I leave my tea bag swimming in my cup or if I do not sip like the Queen.

    It’s just me and Joan, the javelin thrower who always sets her table for two.
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