Monday 5 – Tuesday 6 March 2012
The glass, now empty, sat precariously near the edge of the counter, a bump away from shattering on the floor, its crystalline structure glistening and reflecting light in a way that ordinary glass couldn’t do. He had barely had enough time or strength to replace it on the counter before collapsing, almost lifeless, on the polished concrete floor. His rapid breathing formed condensation on the concrete in a small area around his mouth, and he fought to keep his eyelids from closing. She had won, again, this time, for good.
Giving in to the slowing of his heart, he ran through the events of that night, hoping to at least pinpoint when she had killed him. It was a futile act, but thinking was the only thing that ever kept him calm. He didn’t know what she had used, or if it could be reversed, but guessed that they would be irrelevant considerations about now. However, oddly enough, it hadn’t occurred to him to wonder why she had killed him, only when. He couldn’t see her, but he knew she was in close proximity. She wouldn’t let all of this happen without witnessing it.
The night began ordinarily enough. She had invited him to dinner, he had accepted, and had brought with him an expensive bottle of red, and a decadent dark chocolate and raspberry cake as his contribution to the evening’s meal. She had appeared impressed with his choices, immediately opening the wine, and pouring two full glasses. They drank the wine, laughed over lighthearted conversation, and ate the food she had prepared earlier in the day. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing at all.
‘It couldn’t be the food,’ he thought, ‘she ate everything that I ate. It wasn’t the wine, because she drank that too.’ Possibilities floated through his mind. ‘It wasn’t anything that I brought with me . . . ’
High heels on polished concrete gave away her position in the room. She had sauntered up to stand behind him, and he honestly expected, somewhere in the haze in his head, that she would firmly plant her foot right into one of his kidneys. She, however, did not do as he expected, but rather, she spoke in a hushed voice.
‘You don’t have very long, Simon. A few more minutes at the most before your internal organs completely shut down and turn to mush. And if I know you, you’re trying to figure out how I poisoned you when we consumed all the same things.’
She paused; he wanted to nod, tried to nod, but nothing worked any more.
‘You know, you’re horribly predictable. Any time that you’ve brought a dessert with you, it’s been the same chocolate and raspberry cake from the same cake shop. And I happen to know the owner.’ She laughed, and to the dying Simon, she sounded like a cackling hyena.
‘The cake? She poisoned the cake?’ the words screamed in his mind.
‘But it wasn’t the cake. I just wanted you to know how much I hate dark chocolate and raspberry,’ she laughed again.
He was on his last few breaths, unable to force his failing body to inhale any more. He estimated that he had perhaps two or three minutes left in this world. Knowing how she did it was causing Simon to panic, and panic would use up those precious breaths too fast. Forcing himself to slow his breathing went against every fibre of his being, but he made a valiant attempt to do so. He needed to know how she had managed to do this.
As if hearing his thoughts, she offered up an explanation.
‘The only thing that we didn’t share, sweetheart, was the whisky. I abhor the stuff, but you, you can’t control yourself around it. I slipped a bit of this, and a bit of that, into your whisky glass before I handed it to you. And you threw it back like there was no tomorrow. Well, Si, ironically for you, there isn’t a tomorrow,’ she viciously spat out the last few words.
He glanced up towards the counter top and the crystal tumbler sitting precariously on the edge. It would be the last thing he would lay eyes as he drew his last breath. Her words floated off, now unimportant to him as he laboured with each breath.
‘I have a whole story worked out, Si. No one will suspect that this was my doing . . . ’
Inhale . . . exhale . . . inhale . . . exhale . . . in . . . ex . . .