Tea for Two

Written in response to: Set your story in a tea house.... view prompt

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Mystery Speculative Funny

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

warning: bugs.

Oh ho ho, what have we here? The cockroaches are having a tea date, it seems, and their little scrambled feet are reaching for the cups as we watch. Do you see their beady eyes? Do you hear their scritching voices, clawing up above the wind? Ah, but aren’t they a marvel. Aren’t they precious? Reach into the tea house, dear, reach into that cockroach tea house- right through the window!- and get one for me. I want to eat a cockroach while I drink my tea. I want you to do the same. I want to hear it crunch between my teeth. I am hungry. This is a thing that people do. This is a thing I do. Because I am people. A person, I mean. I am. You are? Yes, I suspected. Would you, then? Get a cockroach for me. I’m going to set it on my tea tray and then I’m going to pick up this butter knife and hollow out my bread roll and then stuff it full of cockroach and then I will bite into it and my eyes will squirm as though they are olives in oil. Ah, joy, I will exclaim! I will pick you up by the arms and swing you into the nearest wall. We will dance, live, eat, die. That is what we do. Isn’t this a nice first date? Aren’t you having fun? 

I thought you might be different, when I met you, when I saw you across the hall at the building. You have hands. They grab. Good for getting cockroaches, better for stealing hearts. I told you once, twice, fourteen times that I liked your hair. You tilted one way and then another and it looked for a minute like you were trying to get away but no, no, no I knew better. You wanted to be here outside this cockroach tea house. You want to be with me. Your eyes say it all. They are full of something thick and purple and you, with your fingers twitching in your pockets, you are smiling but you look strange. You’re not scared, are you? Oh, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Just grab that bug for me and we’ll be on our way. To where? Where? Wherever you feel like going. I’ll take you to the airport, to my mother’s house, to the library, to a forest full of tuna and weasels and witches. Take my hand, but only if there is a cockroach in your palm. Take my heart, my life, my eyes and my liver, but give me in return one of those beady, wicked cockroaches. I want to snap one between my teeth, behind the same lips you surely long to touch. 

You don’t seem too eager to accomplish this task, shall I help you? I’ve already opened the window, and don’t worry about hurting their feelings. Cockroaches are very stupid, that’s how they survive. They live off sheer willpower, like tall drinks of water on a counter, or croutons in a strange southern jello salad. Go! Please! Get the cockroach! Put it close to me, I will reach for it. Lay it in my hand, my fingers will curl over it and I will grin, the jack-o-lantern of my face morphing into the happiest of shapes. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Could you be so kind? That’s it, there you go, yes, grab the one sitting closest to the window. Don’t mind the tea, I don’t need it, just the bug. The greasy one. The toady one. The one that just tried to bite you. And… give it to me! You can’t be stingy, no, no, no! This is all wrong. You are wrong. I am snatching this back from you, I am rescinding my wishes, I am taking away all the nice things I said about you and your hair. I hiss, I howl, I descend into a puddle of banana peels and disposable diapers. I wanted that bug. I wanted it and you stole it. No, worse, you freed it.

How could you?

HOW COULD YOU. 

Hate is a force and the force is choking me. I double at my stomach and 

press my elbows into my ribs and I start to break, do you see what you’ve done? Do you see how you’ve broken me? No, don’t touch me now. You’ve done enough. I am sitting up. I am glaring straight down to your soul and waiting for you to explode but when you do not I decide, I tell myself, give this one another chance. I point, get me another one. Maybe your hands slipped. Maybe you aren’t as strong as I imagined. Did the cockroach hurt you? Their teeth are very sharp, sharper than the tongue of the worst and rudest grandmothers, telling you not to wear that, it makes you look like a stack of potatoes and isn’t starch a poison? 

So, get it for me. Put your hand in that window and pick up another cockroach. This time you shouldn’t fail. You need to do it now. I cannot wait for too long. MY head will rupture. MY teeth will turn to ashes, rubble, the remains of a city like Rome. MY, ME, I am at stake here, not you. Do you not care? Are you such a repulsing worm, such a beguiling beetle, that you will not do this one task? It is all I ask. All I’ve ever asked, since we met today at four o clock, in the hallway in front of the counter with the lady whose eyes refused to snap open. She was like a baby doll, crooked permanently in the arms of someone who does not believe she is real. 

You don’t think, for a minute, that I am who I say I am. Your suspicions give you away, my dear. I can smell them, they linger on your skin, in the space between your eyes, in the hollow of your throat, in the corners where you gather smiles, in the quiver of your thumbs. Why are you a coward? A weakling? Could I boil you? Like pasta, would you bend under the pressure of such heat, such bubbling steam? I could snap you even now, you noodle. And you’re scared, aren’t you? Of me, of my greasy and my beady and my teeth, trying now to sneak a snike, a snack, a snippet, a smack of your hands, your nose, your earlobes. I am hungry! I want something, a cockroach shaped something, and you fail to provide. For this, you are a scoundrel, a monster, a thief of my joy. And you will pay sorely, I declare, and my face falls as I unzip it, crackling open into the winded night air. Yes, watch! Keep your eyes on mine, as I split my face in two, becoming the creature you so rejected to hold, to hand to me. Don’t you realize you picked up a mirror, a simple shard of glass that reflected my one true form? Ah, but isn’t it too late now? Isn’t it too late as I slip from this confinement, this detestable human flesh that now puddles around my scrambled feet. I am the cockroach you freed. I am the one that has come back for you. Cockroaches are known for their survival skills, but what about you? Will you survive the wrath of one insect scorned? 

January 08, 2022 23:21

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1 comment

08:06 Jan 10, 2022

Omg- idek what I read. It was quite different from your usual style, lol. I wrote a similar one. It's called the crown. :)

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