Excerpt 1

The sound of the spoon inside the mug irritated me. It was almost as if she were stirring her coffee to agitate me on purpose. I cleared my throat. The stirring stopped. I smiled.’It’s cold outside,’ I said to her. She picked up the spoon and lifted it to her mouth. Nodding, she licked the cream off the spoon and then said, ‘It’s always cold.’ I pulled my sweater over my chest; she began stirring again. The clinking got louder and my teeth started to ache. I closed my eyes, trying to tune out the noise. ‘Are you going to help me?’ I opened my eyes. Her voice sounded like it was coming off from a distance.

‘I will,’ I said. She smiled, and I did too, before asking, ‘How do you feel today?’She looked at me, leaned in till I felt her breath on my face, and whispered, ‘Great. I feel great.’ Then she moved away so quickly, she knocked her mug off the edge of the table. I got out of my chair and picked it up. ‘It’s okay. It’s not a big deal,’ I said to her. She turned in her chair and looked down at the spill. She looked back up at me and then started to laugh. I sat back, pushing myself against the spine of the chair. She was hysterical. I looked at the people around us, but no one seemed to notice. She continued to shake, laughing and slapping her palms on her thighs. Still, no one noticed.

‘Stop,’ I said to her, ‘you’re going to choke.’ This only made her laugh harder. She banged her hands on the table. Her eyes were shut and she struggled to breathe. ‘Shut up,’ I hissed, and she did. We sat in silence for a few minutes before a waiter passed by.

‘I’m sorry about the spill,’ I said to him, looking down at the coffee that I was sure was going to stain the floor.

He followed my gaze and then looked back at me. ‘Pardon me?’ he said.

‘Oh, I just wanted to apologize for the spill? My sister,’ I said, pointing to the seat in front of me, ‘accidentally knocked it over.’

He looked over to her, and then again at me, ‘I’m sorry Miss, did your sister leave already? And about the spill, don’t worry about it, someone must have taken care of it already.’

I wondered if he were a trainee and then said to him, ‘No, this is my sister,’ pointing towards her again, ‘and if someone doesn’t tend to the spill soon it’s going to leave a stain.’

He looked at me once more, then shrugged and left.

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