Rules, we were made to break them, improve on them if you like, so the young assistant listens to the old man, rules, it was her middle name, the fear of getting it wrong, and the paralysis it creates. She was trying to appease the old man, they get diddery don’t they. She mixes the drink with the clotting agent, his swallow is difficult, the muscles don’t have the same dexterity, she assumes he doesn’t want to choke. Where are you from he asks, then he said, I like your accent.
I come far from here she says, her accent east European. She spoons in the thickening agent, and passes him the cup of tea. He sips with difficulty. Her hand takes his shoulder, leans him forward, makes it easier. He swallows easier. I like your accent madame he says with a smile, so you have traveled too she imagines. You didn’t tell me where you are from, he says, he is smiling at her. why would anyone be interested in where she came from. She remembers her mother, her father, those left behind, inside she sighs, thinking of them, and the struggle they made in order to give her the freedom to travel. Wisdom he smiles, as if he could read her mind. Don’t be afraid to ask he says, with a smile.