Cuppa: 2108

The vacuum transporter system made its customary whoosh sound as the ThermaFlask™ arrived.

She lifted the brushed metal container from the receiving cradle, its cool touch protecting her hands and insulating the hot liquid it contained. She held it protectively to her body as she moved slowly towards the food processing counter. Placing it carefully on the opaque counter-top, she checked over her left shoulder, then her right, checking she truly was alone.

Her ancient hand slid slowly down her robe, her arthritic fingers finding the small soft bag of tea deep in her pocket. She looked behind again as she removed the tea bag from her pocket. She knew the penalties for possessing and consuming non-registered food - even though she would argue tea was not a food - she also knew the authorities wouldn't tolerate that particular debate. They sent you food; you ate it. That was the rule. They controlled your health, your weight, your diet. Old timers like her could remember a time when people had a choice about what they ate, when they ate, where their food came from. But old timers like her were a dying breed - literally. The sheep of the present world let the authorities regulate even their basic human needs.

She reached for a beverage container, setting it onto the countertop and carefully placing the gauze bag containing the black tea inside. Unfastening the TermaFlask™ she gently poured the steaming liquid into the cup. She recalled her Grandfather at that moment, all the times they had shared a cup of tea and conversation when she was much younger. He had often said that no other people in history would see the changes he had seen in his lifetime - he'd lived through the 20th Century. The Great Depression, two World Wars; he’d seen the development of the car, of the aeroplane, of spaceflight. He would have called anyone crazy if they’d suggested potable water would be so regulated, so expensive that in the future it would have to be requested, approved and delivered by the cup. She had saved credits for 5 years to afford this cup of boiling water. She was pleased that her Grandfather lived in his century, and not hers.

The hot water soaked into the bag and began to discolour. She watched the tea claim the water, releasing its flavours and aroma. She inhaled slowly, unlocking memories from gentler times. She would savour this, her last cup of tea. There weren’t enough years left in her life to save for another.