Tea for Two

Submitted into Contest #160 in response to: Start your story with the whistle of a kettle.... view prompt


Crime Drama

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

The irritable whistling always seems to pound my eardrums. I say we should get a modern one – forbid, it’s 2022, it’s not that difficult to get your hands on a kettle that doesn’t sound like it’s about to blow someone’s brains every time it comes to the boil. But no, Roommate only makes the very best tea if the water is stewed perfectly, and for some reason the exclusive technological kettles on the market these days won’t do. Roommate acts oh-so precise, yet Roommate has no care in the world for precision. It’s always bugged me, their habits: tissues litter the apartment worse than bodies after a massacre; Roommate always seems to have a cold! An excuse there, an excuse here, oh, Roommate is very good with their excuses, always has them perfectly planned out. A mug-shaped, tea-colored stain on the table – Roommate, you could’ve just used a coaster, then we wouldn’t have this problem. But Roommate says they don’t drink tea, and it must just be a pattern in the oak. Oh, how I wonder then, why does Roommate make such good tea, if they would never allow the beverage to meet their lips? I say, it has met their lips far too many times.

I always knew Roommate would end up in tatters. Untidy and unkempt since we first met; doesn’t know how to look after themselves, that’s Roommate. Arrived with a coffee stain down the crumpled shirt – oh, so Roommate drinks coffee, do they? Yes, Roommate can’t live without their coffee, daily Starbucks run is in order. Roommate’s off to Starbucks thrice a day sometimes: I could swear they spend more money on caffeine stimulation than they do on rent. It’s always the iced caramel this, two pumps of this, some of this on top, oh, and could I add an extra pump of this? That’s all, thank you! That’s all? Oh, Roommate thinks asking extra is no bother. So very rude, so very selfish. Not a care in the world to how others feel. Drags me along, sometimes, too. I can’t bother for it all, too expensive, I’ll just stick to the tea. Roommate makes the best tea, though, not Starbucks, so I just have to settle for nothing. Roommate’s eyes widen in shock.

Roommate is shocked too, when they arrive home to a clean room, and a freshly made bed. Oh, I’m just so sweet now, Roommate squeals, pulling me into an embrace. No, it triggered me, so messy – I didn’t do it for their sappy hug and fake tears they wipe away with the back of their fingers to ensure their new thousand-inch long French-tip sparkly nails don’t poke their eyes out. I wouldn’t mind if Roommate poked their eyes out, it’d be amusing to think back over a mug of warm tea: the day karma finally made its well-awaited appearance.

Roommate never did though. Eyes always stayed intact. Such a pity, really, as I had to do it myself. Effort. Kidding, kidding...

I was the fool who had high hopes for Roommate. Oh, yes, I did, I am ashamed of it, but I did. I always make the mistake of having high hopes for them, but the knife, it always slips. Don’t take that the wrong way – truly, I’m not mad! I don’t know why you’d say that. Roommate and I liked the same movies. On the second week Roommate was here, we actually went to a movie premiere together – that really got me hoping – but of course, we just ended up stopping by Starbucks on the way (I’m just so tired, I woke up at six this morning, they say) and on the way back, too. Can’t ever have enough caffeine in you, can you, Roommate? No, no, you can’t, you’d have gone a third time if I hadn’t pointed out the budget and that you still had to pay rent for last month.

We did share interests though. The movies, like I said, and taste in food. Not the coffee and tea, though, that we disagree on. Liked to go out to dinner a lot, Roommate did, fancy restaurants and all. However, they’d never dress up for the love of it! Well, unless you take Roommate’s word for it – the same shirt they arrived in, hasn’t been washed since, coffee stain still prominent, and a black miniskirt. Now, the miniskirt is okay, but calling the coffee stain modern art, Roommate? Really, I would expect better of you, you’re supposed to be the excuses person. Can’t cook, either! You see what I mean? Always asking for the very most, but doesn’t even understand the beauty of the things the chefs conjure up for them, day and night. Can’t cook, hey, Roommate, well, maybe I’ll cook you… I’m kidding… take a joke...

Oh, would you shut the kettle up, Roommate? It is really starting to bug me now, so very loud. Yes, Roommate, it’s for my tea. Oh, don’t you start – you’re spending twenty bucks on coffee a day, and don’t try deny it, I know how much your iced this with a bit of extra that and this and that costs. A fortune, I know! You don’t even make that much on your sorry little shift, and I don’t regret saying that, no, I don’t. Shut it, just stop the kettle! No, it just takes you to turn it off, I’ll be down in a minute, you don’t have to make the tea. Oh, that’s a laugh, you already are making the tea. In fact, you’re the key ingredient! Yes, I’m coming down now, Roommate, that water must be ready now, or that kettle must really be malfunctioning, I’ve told you enough times we need a new one…

So loud! Are you incapable of stopping it? You’re incapable of everything, honestly, what can I expect? It really does sound like it’s gonna blow someone’s brains out! Roommate, seriously – someone’s gonna think we’re doing madman’s work down here, boiling people’s organs, such a story that’d make the papers.

Yes, I think I’m quite funny… you, you really make such splendid tea, Roommate, you really do… I’d say your brains are quite the flavorful, however, your kidneys last week? Simply exquisite, you know, my favorite yet. A little awkward to retrieve, though, you were still half-alive then, struggling a lot, tried to wrench the knife from my hand. Naughty little Roommate, such an inconvenience, just like the last one, they always end up like this… tatters… the last one’s brain tasted much better, now I think about it…

Oh! And now the doorbell’s at it! Must be the new Roommate, silly me. They’ll think I’m boiling someone’s brains, they will – madness. I stuff you away in this closet with the rot of Old Roommate, they won’t look there; smells too bad, always say it’s the mold…

The irritable ringing always gets me. Maybe this one will make better tea. Not complaining, Roommate, never would, your tea is splendid, I said that… just, can always get better, you know… Oh, hello! Nice to meet you, yes, you’re my new roommate? Awesome, really cool, hey… always end up a wreck, my roommates do, always end up leaving. Maybe you’ll be different, hm? No! No, I’m not implying anything… you like tea? Great! I just made some, come join…

August 25, 2022 16:34

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Michał Przywara
20:17 Aug 28, 2022

A nice twist on this one :) I suspected something was up pretty much from the beginning. The narrator not only had a strange way of talking - and the constant complaints were a bit of a red flag - but what really did it was "Roommate." Never once does the narrator use the roommate's name, it's always just "Roommate." That's mighty suspicious. But I guess if you name something, you might develop some emotional attachment to it. If you use a person's name, you might see them as a person, instead of as just a thing. It's easier to kill a thin...


Zoë Page
13:57 Aug 29, 2022

Thanks, Michał! I'm glad you picked up on the way of talking. The narrator was clearly not going to be sane at mind and I wanted to show that through the way they spoke. And yes, it would definitely be easier to kill a thing than a person. Maybe the narrator learnt that from past attempts, as it's evident this wasn't the first time they did something so horrible. Also pleased it wasn't too predictable! I hoped someone would pick up on Roommate making the best tea, but apparently not liking to drink the beverage themselves, greatly preferri...


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