She had propped me on the granite kitchen counter top, I had one leg extended along it's length, the other tucked under me. Butterflies and gremlins danced in my stomach. I watched her dip a table knife repeatedly into a bowl of hot sugary caramel. Checking. Runny. Checking. Runny. Checking. Syrup. Check.
"It needs to be...so it pulls just right," - she was obviously talking to herself.
She then turned to me - like Hannibal - and said, "Shall we try?"
Did I have f%$&*ing choice?
"There is no beauty without pain, mollay…no pain, no gain," she smiled.
I was 12, I levelled my gaze, to meet her mocking stare dead centre and set my jaw.
She raised her eyebrow, almost half impressed.
It felt warm. Like warm cocoa. The right kind of warm. It glistened. As she spread the dollop, down my calf - it tugged, ever so slightly, here…there, a small pinch, a firm tug, a mild sting...I was mesmerised.
She had laid out strips of muslin (from a butter biscuit tin…#malayaleeswag) and considered each one like a snob shopping for silk scarves. She then lifted it gently and in a reassuring and almost maternal way patted it on. I'm still under the influence…the soft, rhythmic, warm pats…
I wasn't aware that she was looking at me. Her hooded gaze.
I don't remember the exact moment she had stopped.
I was still transfixed, my gaze solidly set on my calf. The caramel under the muslin looked dark. Like a wound - on the delicate tipping point - before it stained and swelled and seeped afresh. It felt like thick basting.
I inhaled, distractedly…deeply…and my eyes refocused. It was suddenly very quiet. Her hands were by her side, they were right next to my leg. My eyes shot up and met hers again. My mouth parted.
Sharp intake of breath. Her lips curled into 'Cheshire gone rogue'. Her hands were swift, merciless.