I welcomed him. I greeted him. I said hello. I saluted him. I received him. I embraced his presence.
I offered him cake.
He was in my home.
His shoes on my holey carpet. Honey dripping down the side of his teacup. A metal teaspoon inside my honeypot. Internally screaming. The honey stick lay on the kitchen table, untouched, right next to the pot. Untocuhed. Use the honey stick, idiot, you will ruin my honey.
There was sliced, toasted bread on a plate. Butter in a butter dish. A loaf of cake with dry icing and glace cherries on top.
A window broke upstairs. My fingers clenched around my teacup. I saw his bright blue eyes rise to the ceiling. My knee jerked up and down under the table. Breathing hard and fast. I picked up a piece of toast and began to slide the soft butter over it. Then, looking directly at him, I picked up the honey stick and dipped it into the honeypot. The honey oozed gently onto my toast.
More glass crashed upstairs, glass splintering on the floor, the tinkle almost beautiful. Systematic crashing. Swinging in, and out again. I closed my eyes. Maybe he hadn’t heard. I needed to distract him.
‘You really should not use metal teaspoons in honey.’ I said, levelly, taking a bite to soothe my nerves. The floorboards upstairs really were creaking too much.
He didn’t seem to register what I said, so I spoke again, a little louder this time.
‘Would you like another cup of tea?’
‘No.’ he said, shortly. He stood up. ‘Are you alone?’
‘Yes, of course.’
‘There is someone upstairs.’
‘Don’t be so ridiculous. It’s just the cats.’
‘Do you let your cats break windows?’
‘Nonsense. No windows are broken. They are just playing with their toys.’ I took another bite. Everything is normal. Everything is normal. EVERYTHING IS NORMAL.
The crumbs joined together and solidified in my throat. A giant lump of despair and toast, welded together tightly. Like metal. I swallowed. It refused to go down.
‘I am going upstairs.’
I stood up quickly. Blocked his way through the kitchen door, swallowing hard. The ball of chewed toast refused to go anywhere, so all I could do was stare helplessly at him, leaning my hand against the frame and my hip on the other end. I jerked my head towards the table, where the honey dripped from the honey stick and on to my table cloth. He was already speaking into his phone. His voice was muffled, and I thought it was because my tears clouded my vision.
I was choking, that’s what it was. I was choking and that is why I couldn’t hear him. I tried to tell him so, but he looked right through me, beyond me, speaking gibberish into his phone and pushing past me on his way upstairs. I felt weak, flailing, gasping for breath.
‘Stop!’ but it sounded like ‘‘Mllop!’
My tongue was swollen, that’s what it was. I was allergic to honey.
I heard his feet pounding on the stairs and when he reached the landing, suddenly, all was still. No crashing. No creaking floorboards. Just his still body staring at what I knew for certain was in the bedroom. The rope. The blood smears. The body dangling from the ceiling. The jerking of the corpse. So hard it swung into the fragile glass. Splintering into purple skin and spattering on the wall. Red and white. Clear and cloudy.
I sunk to the floor, still choking, dying, poisoned, maybe.
I welcomed him into my home. I saluted him. I gave him my best honey.
‘Detective Winters. May I come in?’
He was handsome. His eyes frosty blue, like the china I bought sixteen years ago before it went out of fashion.
I greeted him. I let him right in.
His feet pounded on the stairs as he raced down, I could hear the clink as he fumbled with his protective weaponry. Or whatever they use to hold you, seize you, take you, confine you, constrain you, detain you.
A cloud over my brain. I was losing oxygen. I was sure of it. The atmosphere was draining. It wasn’t the toast, it wasn’t the honey. The air was conspiring against me. I was dying. This was it. I felt his hands on my wrists, he was shouting something, I slumped against his chest. How solid. I couldn’t move. This was the end.