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Tea Time by the River Thames

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The coffee shop overlooking the Thames had no discernible door. In fact, the multitude of windows that gave the patrons such a remarkable view were also impossible to see from the outside. You’d think that this is terrible for business, but the usual visitors were relieved by the privacy. They could always find a way in; it was their jobs after all.

One such visitor moved the hem of her glove to check her timepiece, with a delicate frown on her face. She sighed irritably and removed her hat, carefully so as not to ruin her bun, “Honestly! She could at least have sent word ahead.”

Mary Poppins didn’t approve of tardiness.

There was a shift in the atmosphere, and she looked up to see another woman sitting across from her.

“You’re late, Matilda.”

“Nonsense. I made an entrance,” Nanny McPhee said, placing her own hat next to Mary’s. “We both know we can arrive whenever. Why you insist on abiding by the clock, I will never know.”

“I believe it to be decent, to arrive when I say I will.”

“Why you also insist on that, I will never know. It’s much more fun to just arrive.”

Mary pursed her lips, “You’re still doing that then? Simply arriving uninvited?”

Matilda merely smiled. She carefully leant her cane against the table, glancing around, “Where’s your umbrella, dear? You haven’t lost it surely?”

“Good gracious, no!” Mary looked positively horrified by the suggestion, “It’s in the umbrella holder over there.”

Mary gestured to the corner, where, sure enough, the parrot handled umbrella stuck out. Matilda nodded.

“I suppose it’s safe to do that here. You’d never do that anywhere else.”

“Of course not. What if one of the children picked it up?”

“Oh, it’s not so bad.”

Mary nearly choked on her tea, which had appeared from nowhere, “You let a child use your cane?”

“He only knocked with it. I was enjoying my afternoon off, you see.”

“Still! With your cases, isn’t it risky?”

“If it had been early, yes. But they’d come such a long way,” Matilda sighed, “Enough about me, how are you?”

“Quite alright, although I am rather sick of the nineteen-hundreds.”

“You did pick the fathers, my dear.”

“I know, but why are so many of them in the same century! And the same country too!”

Matilda stifled a laugh, “They do seem to congregate there, don’t they?”

“All with the same attitude too. Are the children so predictable?”

“Not even remotely. Thankfully, children everywhere everywhen can be exceptionally naughty.”

“Are still doing the… oh, what do you call it…” Mary trailed off as Matilda took a long sip from her cup, “The lessons, and the shape-shifting?”

“Oh yes,” She replied, setting the cup down, only for it to be remarkably filled again, “I find the visual aid increases progress. And it puzzles them greatly; gives them more reason to listen.”

“I would never think of that,” Mary sighed, “This is why you bamboozle the children and I trip up the fathers.”

“You are excellent at twisting their words. More so than I would be. I can twist children’s words, I suppose, but most people can. It takes talent to twist someone into thinking an idea was their own.”

Mary grinned into her teacup, “It takes talent to wrangle disobedient children into doing what they’re told.”

“You’re quite right. We’re both talented.”


The sunset was reflecting into the room when the pair put their hats back on.

“Well my dear, it was wonderful to see you again,” Matilda said, as Mary retrieved her umbrella, “We ought to do this in a relative month.”

“Only if you show up on time.”

“Oh alright, but you have to make an entrance then.”

“Oh… if it makes you happy, I suppose.” Mary sighed, picking up her bag, “Now, I better start this new family. The father honestly believes that children can be trained like dogs.”

Matilda winced, “That sounds like a difficult one. If you’re in need of tea be sure to write.”

“I shall indeed,” Mary said opening one of the large windows, “Whenever you go next, I wish you the best of luck.”

Both women gave the other a final, fond look before disappearing, with a breeze and a knock.