The Agony of the Leaves
"Agony of the leaves"— Tea-trade term to denote the reaction of tea leaves during the steeping process, as they fill with boiling water and expand, twisting and writhing.
One assumes that a tale has both a beginning and an end, but you, my dear, enter this story in the center. We will see what you glean from a brief overview of my early life; do try to catch up with the rest of the class.
My father, in his infinite stupidity, whisked my mother and my infant self away from the Upper East Side of New York City to dwell in a town that was, in my opinion, largely full of cows and idiots, in northern Colorado. My father certainly fit the bill.
My mother was a lawyer and greatly outshone my father in terms of both intellect and ability to generate cash flow, even in this tiny village hovel. My mother, whose parents had come from Japan directly to further their business in America, had been raised in the City and had been taught since birth to expect—nay, demand—the finer things in life. When my father proved himself incapable of providing these things and his tenure in Colorado stretched endlessly toward my teen years, my mother took me in hand, and we left him. She never looked back, and to be true, neither did I.
When we returned to the City, my mother told me about the accounts she had hidden from my father and the money that she had saved. We went on a whirlwind tour, ate at the best restaurants, and lived as much of the nightlife as I could fit into my youthful self. I was given the finest tutors that money could buy (my mother approved of private education), and she always dressed me impeccably in fashionable clothing. You see, my mother fancied me to be her protégée. I was meant to be her legacy. I was my mother’s perfectly polished, perfectly poised china doll.
I suppose it is no surprise that I emerged from my adolescence with an utter intolerance of anything that falls below the mark, and with a general disrespect for so-called "male authority figures"—my mother had no time for them; why should I?
She felt a strong tie to her homeland, despite having only rarely seen it. It occurred to her that I should be trained in a fashion not unlike a traditional geisha, and she arranged for me to take classes in tea ceremony. I find the concept of tea ceremony inherently amusing: the tea ceremony is meant to be a glorification of the imperfection of this very fleeting moment, yet the devotees practice for the majority of their adult lives to achieve perfected imperfection. In a way, I could appreciate the idea: I was my mother’s slightly flawed mirror. My father left me with skin a tad too light to be properly Japanese, and my eyes have a distinctly hazel cast to them. That is my brand; that is the thing that kept me from being the most suitable doll.
My mother would bring clients to our home on occasion, and I would serve tea. These men were Americans, and they had no appreciation for Eastern aesthetic. They thought the tea was bitter and did not understand the fine eroticism in the inch or two of inner wrist that I would expose while pouring. There was one guest who had the audacity to confront me later in the hallway, press me to the wall, and attempt to fondle my breasts through my silk kimono. I would have none of it. Despite the fact that it is most proper to remove one’s shoes upon entering the household, my mother considered my deportment to be best when I wore heels. I took account of the available weapons I had at my disposal: a heavy iron tetsubin full of boiling water, or my shoes—the tetsubin would merely make a mess on my mother’s carpets. Instead, I jabbed my pointed heel directly into the man’s disgusting testicles. My mother was very proud. And he was always unceasingly polite to me from then on. After this incident, I decided that men were animals, no better than my father, and that pain was the only teaching method they truly comprehended.
I began to play with my mother’s clients. Many of them were far, far beneath her, but as I said, I was a slightly flawed mirror. I enjoyed teasing them, leading them on—Oh dear, did I accidentally press my cunt against your shoulder when I leaned past you as you knelt at my mother’s table?—only to crush them later. I had a great deal of fun with this. There is one who still mails me a letter every year on my birthday, handwritten, of course, on fine cotton paper, to plead with me to become his mistress. If only he knew.
I am a very busy woman. Since my mother’s death and my subsequent inheritance, I’ve turned my focus back to the small rituals of the tea ceremony that shaped my life. After all, the first time I sincerely wounded a man was during the ceremony, and nearly every man who pled desperately to be allowed a single taste of my flesh did so over tea. I cannot inhale the delicate scent of the leaves without recalling this. I spend much of my time dealing with importers and my own clients who wish training in the Way of Tea. It is business, and it is a business that I love, but it is not enough.
I found that I missed the sight of a pathetic wretch on his knees (Western men have no idea how to kneel properly—it’s most deplorable), trying in vain to hide his naughty erection, staring up at me as I stood over him with my arms crossed and an expectant look on my finely cut features. My mother could never quite understand the delight I took in listening to these supposed executives grovel before my feet, pleading for a taste, a touch, a kiss. Her colleagues were my favorite prey: kings in the boardroom and yet spineless beasts on my floor.
How will you grovel? How will you beg? What sweet cries of pain and torment will you utter for me?