On the first bite, you know they’ve used cyanide and you think: they’re finally trying to kill me.
You’ve always looked ahead into the raveling naughts and ones that pattern the future. You’ve followed each symbol, each theorem through your life and they’ve always led you to a new truth. But now you want to break them, destroy those inevitable paths. If only you could hold those patterns in your hand you could squeeze them until they bled and became a new shape. You want to change the rules.
Finger down your throat now, and you may make it.
Some will say good riddance. Yes, during the war he was a jolly good sport and all, but hasn’t he outlived the useful? Fellows like him might be better off, you know. Devil knows we’ve done our best with therapy. Hasn’t worked. Rotten luck.
And you can admit it now: there were times you hoped the oestrogen treatment had been swapped for something more final. Something that would end the misery of your mind going slack. Something that would make you forget your body becoming foreign around you: the growing breasts, your stubbornly limp cock.
Force of habit, you go for a second bite, but the marzipan smell reminds you. Someone added sugar to take the bitter taste down a bit. They say spooks who carry ampules in their teeth die with their eyes squinted from the bitterness. They added sugar for you. You ought to be grateful.
You bring out some of the chemicals you’ve stashed in the spare room and loosen their caps. You half-fill two beakers. Anyone could sniff them all day and only get a headache, but no one will care to look too close.
That will give mother enough to think that it was carelessness, not suicide.
Mrs. C will find you when she comes to tidy. There will be blood on your mouth. There will be flies on your open eyes, their wings weaving into your lashes. But enough of the future. Stop looking ahead. For once, look back.
You think of him. Not the logistics and mechanics that you, humiliated, recounted for barristers, but what you felt. Touching his skin in white sunlight. The way his arms went around your ribs and pulled you tight so there was nothing, not even air, between you the entire length of your bodies, even your legs. His eyes long-lashed like a woman’s, but better. The fierce lust you felt. And more than lust: affection, possession, joy. Not even oestrogen could ease that feeling.
Cyanide can ease it, though. Things are slowing. There’s pain high in your belly. You try to think about maths but even theorems you’d sussed decades ago are fading. This will be like sleeping. Just a rest. Think of waking to see him again, to look into his eyes. Think of waking up with a kiss. You can do this. One more bite.
Andrea Eaker lives in the Seattle area. Her stories have appeared in journals including Stratus, Flight Journal, and the Clay Bird Review.