“I have to give them a taste of my own medicine. A taste. Nothing but a taste”
He was listening to her, and he was also slowly poisoning her. He understood completely that a single teaspoon could be the ruin of her. It could literally result in her entire world crumbling apart; tumbling down past her ears. He watched the golden curls hanging by her ears sway a little in an unseen draft. The draft, he mused, that the rubble that was all that remained of her life made as it crashed past her temples. A silent storm that nobody, not even her, saw. A muted rage only felt by a subconscious sense in the gleaming tendrils of her ringlets, as they were pushed aside by a force so weak it could be mistaken for an ethereal puff.
He dipped the teaspoon into the bowl of sugar. A few particles tumbled back into the bowl. They made a vociferous thumping sound in the back of his brain as they spilled over their friends. When he looked back up at her, he saw her eyes fixated on the spoon. They widened slightly. Her thin, sallow hands twisted in her bony lap. The outline of her knobbly knees severe through the filmy grey that was her dress. There were large red spots by her sharp mouth; angry, purple welts that painted her painful journey through her sickness vividly. They disgusted him. He tried not to look at them as the spoon passed tremblingly over the table and vanished into the thin china teacup on the table, inches away from her knee.
He spent a few seconds, which seemed like minutes, stirring thoughtfully. He felt the directness of her gaze on him, it unnerved him slightly. He was taking part in a very nervy action, if it actually came down to it. It did not do to dwell on the nerves of matters.
He lifted the teaspoon, and set it calmly on the saucer. Then he looked up at her. She was picking at one of her sores, her eyes darting from the spoon, to him. He resisted the urge to grimace, as he lifted her teacup with his right hand, and brought her papery little hand towards the cup with his left. She shuddered at the sudden warmth that engulfed her icy fingers, as she struggled to grasp the teacup around its middle. He looked up at her, eyebrows raised, ready smile, hand still on the handle of the cup.
She bared her teeth back at him, which left him with the sensation that a ghostly child was running cold fingers along his shoulder blades and down the back of his neck. He let go, and sat back.
“Will you not have some?” she enquired softly. Her head tilted sideways at him. He forced himself to nod, and smile again.
It sounded more like glee, when her thin, taught lips touched the rim of the china cup. He tried not to look eager, as he leant forward and picked up his own cup, identical to hers. He brought it round so he could fit his index finger through the hole of the small, dainty handle. He glanced up at her, just in time to see her throat move as she swallowed, bringing her cup down towards the saucer.
The sound as it hit the small plate reverberated in his ears, clanging like a hundred bells in his mind.