Imperial March: Episode 9

[Written in Merrion Square Park, Dublin, after getting inspiration from the Oscar Wilde statue ;)]

 The water boiler made a gurgling sound, drowning the silence that had taken over the small, homely kitchen. Shane turned it off and poured water in the two identical cups – green, with small flowers around the rim. He then carefully selected two bags from the enormous tea collection and placed them in the cups. He watched in trivial fascination when they broke the water’s surface and tiny lines of dark red swirled in the cups, gravitating towards the centre like blood rushing into a drain. He pushed them towards the plates that he had set opposite from one another, took the steaming, crispy bread rolls out of the oven. After a while that he had spent in precise preparation of breakfast, he looked up. His older sister was standing in the doorway, watching him in disbelief.

Judging from her face, she had cried, and probably not slept much either. He raised a disapproving eyebrow. She had been so horribly fragile recently.

“You look like you need some strength,” he remarked. No response. “Sit down, little one.”

She recognised the impatient hint in his voice and complied immediately. She shivered as he joined her at the table, and inched away as much as the squeaky old chair would allow without obvious detection. “Eat,” he suggested in a friendly manner. She didn’t move.

“Why did you do it?” she asked after a while. He washed down the bite with a gulp of hot tea, nearly burning his tongue, and smiled almost lovingly.

“Couldn’t leave you with this mess, now could I? I’ve promised to look after you.”

“It’s not right.”

“Who are you to judge? Mother always said you have to finish what you started. Now don’t say a word about this anymore. You wouldn’t want to spoil our breakfast, now would you?”

His sister lowered her head. He saw her bite her lower lip, as if she was trying not to say something. He presumed it would be something unpleasant and chose to ignore it. She hadn’t put sugar in her cup, he noticed. He saw her eyes flicker towards the big clock on the wall, and its ancient tick-tock set the rhythm of their silence. He finished his breakfast in peace and pushed away his plate.

“You’ve called the police, haven’t you?” he said matter-of-factly, with only a hint of suppressed anger. Tears welled up in her eyes.
“I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be.” He stood up. “I trust you’ll do the dishes. I need to pack. Wouldn’t want to keep the defenders of the law waiting, would we?” He passed the trembling figure that was his sister and turned around once more before he left the room.

“Winter.”

“Yes.”

“Don’t think you’ll always almost get away from me.” The doorbell rang urgently. He shrugged.

“Go welcome our visitors.”

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