“Why won’t you eat the pastry?” They are staring at me. The pastry steams softly in my lap, my hands draped on either side of it, but not touching it. It is beginning to burn my thighs through the fabric of my skirt. “I can’t,” I tell them. “It isn’t safe.” They do not understand. The pastry will kill me. The room is too white. I close my eyes against it. Breathe in, breathe out. When I open my eyes again, they are all still there. Staring. Waiting. There is a doorframe without a door across the room from me. It, too is white, as is the room beyond. A woman’s head pokes into the doorway. Her hair is ink-black, the darkest thing I’ve ever seen. A vacuum that sucks in all the light, and all the air from my lungs. “She will be offended if you don’t eat it,” They say. She is watching me intently as she tucks something in to her apron pocket. A small bottle. “I’ll save it for later,” I tell them. They blink. They do not understand. “Later? It will be cold later,” they say. “I’ll reheat it.” “Don’t be rude,” they say. I am going to die.
There is a spiral staircase at the center of the room. It, too, is white. The woman ascends these, smiling softly at me. They do not see. They are looking at the pastry on my lap. It is cooling. Some of the filling has spilled out of the side. Apple, I think. They lick their lips. “Eat it,” they say. “Alright,” I tell them. I do not move. They blink. The woman has disappeared out through a hole in the ceiling at the top of the stairs. I wonder what is up there. Is there a world outside this room? Or is this room everything? Does whatever leaves this room cease to exist? Is the woman gone forever? No. She is coming back, carrying something. A mug. She is walking towards me. They part, allowing her to pass without looking at her. Without really seeing. I stand. The pastry falls from my lap and crumbles on the white floor, apple slices spilling out. They gasp in offense. She pulls the small bottle from her pocket and tips a few drops into the mug- right in front of them, but they do not see. She hands the mug to me. I do not move. “Take it,” they say. “Don’t be rude, take the mug.” I take it. “Drink it,” they say. She looks at me, but does not speak. “Drink it,” they say. “Don’t be rude.” “Drink it.” “She made this just for you.” “Drink it.” “We would love to have some, you are quite lucky.” “Drink it,” they say.
I bring the mug to my lips and drink.