Content warning: mentions of suicide, domestic abuse, sexual abuse.
The steaming mug of tea is hot in my hands, near scalding. I cradle it close to my chest, inhaling the sweet steam with every breath. My eyes are focused entirely on the drink, watching as the pale milk twists and curls around the dark tea, forming curious whirling patterns at the surface. Strange, that I’ve never noticed this before, not once thought to look closer at the visual nuances of tea.
Across the table, Lissa’s mother sniffs lightly. Not in disgust, simply trying to clear what remains of her earlier tears. The silence between us is taut with her sorrow, my guilt, and neither of us knowing what the other is thinking right now. To her, my face is as familiar as her own, but my expressions are as alien as a stranger’s.
To me, she is nothing, except a human who didn’t harm me when she had every right to. Instead, she invited me down to her kitchen for tea with the words, “You can’t stay long, I don’t know what Gray would do if he saw you.”
I assume Gray is Lissa’s father, and the tone in her mother’s voice makes me wonder exactly what she fears he’d do to me. I decide it’s better not to ask that question, simply to nod silently and follow her down the stairs through Lissa’s old home. Compared to the starkness of my own home, this house is messy, cosy. Addison would throw a fit at the haphazard, random order of the books on their shelves.