“Dragon’s Breath, right?”
     “Yes, that’s right” said Rory Penlift, already feeling oddly defensive about the title of his poetry-book-to-come.  Who was this guy Michael, anyhow, to make him feel unsure of himself?  A friend of May’s or no friend of May’s, it didn’t seem right for a guy he’d just met to be so immediately confrontational.  Geez, he hadn’t even finished the tea May had made for the two of them.
     “Why?”  Rory added, “You don’t like that title?”
     Michael glanced at May, in whose eyes he thought he glimpsed both disapproval and the fervent wish that he’d just leave the whole subject alone.
     “This will be Rory’s first book,” said May carefully, pouring out the last of their tea.
     Michael nodded.  Rory beamed.
     “But why Dragon’s Breath?” Michael asked again.
     “I just liked the sound of it,” Rory answered. “For me, it suggested a certain power, verbal force, unknowable heat!”
     “The trouble is, it also suggests a whole lot of other things as well.”
     “Oh yeh?  Like what?”
     “Well, said Michael, warming to his task and avoiding May’s disapproving stare, “like a beer called Dragon’s Breath.  And there’s a red opal called Dragon’s Breath. And a blue cheese.  But,” said Michael, in his most intimidating, authoritative voice, “the best known Dragon’s Breath of all, is a certain kind of incendiary ammunition for a 12-gauge shotgun.  It makes a rifle into a flamethrower.  Nice, huh?
     May got up to go and rinse out the teapot.
     “Wow,” said Rory quietly.
     “Wow nothing, do you really want to live with any of those associations?”
     “Well, the shotgun thing is pretty powerful,” said Rory.
     “But does it have anything at all to do with your poems?” Michael asked him, getting rapidly bored with the whole business and beginning to wonder how May and this callow boy could possibly be friends.
     “No, I suppose not,” Rory admitted.  When I wrote the poems I was going more with the whole medieval thing.  You know, St. George and the Dragon and all that.  Fiery breath.” 
     Michael was ready to take a whack at him.
     But just then May returned with the washed teapot.
     Michael got up to go.
     “Listen,” May told him, “why don’t we meet late this afternoon, after I close up the store?  There’s a new tea place that’s opened, just up on Bloor Street.  Let’s met there and then go to dinner.  What do you say?”
     Michael grinned.
     “I say okay,” he told her. He then offered Rory his unenthusiastic congratulations on the book and made his departure.
     Rory looked at May. 
     “Tough kind of a guy,” he said.
     “Michael’s lovely,” she replied.  “He gets impatient.”
     “So do I,” said Rory.
     “No you don’t.”
     “No, I guess not.  Not very often anyway.”
     “Not ever,” said May.
     The coffee shop May wanted to try was called David Pythagoras Fine Teas and it was white as an iceberg inside.
The walls were white and the floors were white.  The light from the ceiling racks of LED bulbs—there seemed to be hundreds of them—was blinding and, since it ignited both the walls and the floor in an integrated miasma of volcanically intense white radiance, it caused you, when you entered the shop, to pick your way tentatively across the space, uncertain of the depth and placement of things.  The light made you appear to be treading water.  It was like walking in a substanceless cold cream.
     May and Michael picked their way through the front part of the shop, making for one of what seemed to be four tiny jet-black tables and chairs at the back.  Over at the right, running the length of the store, there was a prodigious wall of shiny silvered canisters, each one labelled with the name of the tea it presumably held.  Through the glare, Michael could just make out, behind the counter, a girl-shaped density in the whitened space that he thought might possibly be a waitress or sales person.
     “Good evening!” the girl-shaped density sang out, just moving enough so that Michael could see that she was indeed a figure—detached and whole—set against the ground of tea canisters.
     “Bright,” whispered May.
     “Blinding,” said Michael. “Cauterizing.”
     The tables seemed remarkably delicate and, given their shiny blackness and their morphologically unfathomable design—each was as attenuated as a false eyelash, and as ultimately unstable as wrought-iron made from liquorice twizzlers—not as much a haven as one might have liked in this dizzying, omnidirectional glare.  Michael tried to sit down and nearly missed the seat.  May, on the other hand, slid as gracefully into her black spiderweb as a leaf alighting on the surface of a sooty pond.
     “Lots of teas,” she said.
     “Too many,” said Michael, still trying to disentangle his right foot from the table—which seemed to sport cunning black flanges and scallops of metal embroidery and had now effected some unimaginable hold on his trouser leg.
     “What sort of tea do you feel like?” she asked him.
      “Something green, I guess.”
     May disentangled herself lithely from her sooty faerie-table and walked gracefully through the glare to the girl-shaped density behind the counter.   She was gone a long time.
     When she returned, she was carrying a hefty glass teapot and two glass cups.
     “This,” she announced proudly, “setting the giant teapot heavily on the spindly table, “is a green tea called Countess of Seville!”
     “Spanish green tea?” Michael asked.  “What’s in it?”
     “The girl told me …”
     “There’s a girl over there?” Michael asked her.
     “The girl told me,” May continued, “that the tea was imbued with orange oil…”
     “Which explains the Seville part, I guess.”
     “AND,” May added loudly, “oil of Bergamot.”
     Michael picked up his glass cup to hand to her.
     “That’s odd,” he said.  “It feels as light as a soap bubble.  Not like glass at all.”
     May poured the Countess of Seville into both their cups.
It was pale yellow—like white wine or like a urine sample.
     Michael spoke through the preternatural whiteness to the girl-shaped clerk over at the tea-wall.
     “Is this really glass?” he asked, holding up his cup.
     “Of course,” she assured him.
     “But it doesn’t feel like glass.  It isn’t heavy enough.”
     “Well, it’s actually a kind of hybrid glass that all David  Pythagoras tea shops use.”
     “What do you mean, hybrid?” asked Michael, squinting through the shop’s whiteness.
     “Wait.” said the girl-voice, “I’ll look it up in the computer.”
     She busied herself for a few minutes, while they sipped their Seville.  Then, after what seemed like twenty minutes or so, she called out to them.
     “Here it is!  It says it’s called “material glass,” and is basically—mostly—silicone-based.”
     “It says here it’s heat resistant.”
     Michael put his cup down on the spidery table.
     “Let’s get out of here.”
     “But you’ve hardly tasted your tea,” said May.
     “That’s okay, “said Michael, “I don’t know what oil of Bergamot tastes like anyhow.  And,” he added, “I’m sure he Countess of Seville will understand.”