Fiction, Vol. 2.4, Dec. 2008
The drumming begins.
She slices vegetables, tosses them into the pan. Carrots, red peppers squeaking under her fingers, a couple of leeks. They slide away from the blade, refuse to be cleanly chopped.
She stops, hones her knife on the sharpener. She tests the blade against her finger. Hears the pulse louder, building. She puts her finger to her mouth, tastes the blood on her tongue. She runs her hand under the tap, blots it with a clean tea towel.
When parsnips and green beans have been added to the pot, she lays down the knife, blade pointing outward. She takes a box of matches, strikes one and lights a gas ring. She covers the vegetables with water, adds a spoonful of salt and lets the pan boil.
Above the singing of the stew the drumbeat rises. Branches brittled by sun under marching feet.
She sets the table for two. White linen tablecloth, silver spoons, shiny black place mats. She sits at the table.
The drumming forces a path through veins and arteries, round and round. She rises.
She takes a spoon and tests the food, her teeth crunching into half-cooked vegetables. Too soon.
Now the beat slows to a steady march, and she can hear the boots outside in the street. The drumming inches forward to her door. When the knock comes, she picks up a knife and advances.