Roberta sucked in the air and looked around the stark, square room. Her gaze lingered on a mirror, and she stared hard, lifting her chin. Her thighs stuck to the plastic chair, and she lifted herself, releasing the skin with a faint schloop.
‘So Miss Fletcher, you’re a breatharian?’
‘Yeah, what’s it to you?’ Everyone was so small-minded, he didn’t understand, like all the others. She would save the world.
The detective looked towards the mirror and rolled his eyes. ‘It’s nothing to me at all, Miss Fletcher. Would you care to explain, for the record,’ he waved his hand over a tape recorder.
‘We live on air, that’s about it. We’re saving the planet. While the rest of you fill your faces and implode with your own self-serving desires.’ There, that told him. Roberta folded her hands over her skinny little chest. Flashing lights danced in front of her eyes as a wave of hunger gripped her. She swallowed, fighting back the urge to lick her lips.
‘Would you like some water?’ He pushed a plastic cup towards her. ‘You are allowed to drink water?’
‘I’m allowed to do anything I damn well like.’ She flicked her fingers at the cup, causing it to tumble, water flowing over the papers on the desk. Roberta took several deep breaths. She could do this, she was in the right, couldn’t they see that?
‘So you admit that you were acquainted with a Mr James Merton?’
Roberta nodded. She knew James bloody Merton all right with his upturned snotty nose and freckles as large as ink blots. Since primary school in the playground, in the corner of the playground where he, along with his mates – girls and boys- used to bully her.
They had ripped off her NHS pink plastic glasses, the wire handles scratched at her ears and stamped on them. And she was the one who got in trouble with Ma when she got back home without them.
‘You’ve known him a long time, is that right?’
She nodded again.
‘The machine can’t hear a nod,’ the detective snapped. ‘The sooner you co-operate the sooner we can sort things out.’
Roberta leaned back in her chair, teetering on the back legs before she let it fall on all four with a clang.
‘Yes, I knew James Merton.’
‘He was a love interest?’
Roberta stifled a chuckle. Love interest. Sounds like a hobby. James had been around most of her life. And yes, they had become lovers where the bullying had continued. The last straw was when he forced her to eat a beef burger. He’d threatened her with his EpiPen, then sat on top of her.
Roberta clenched and unclenched her fists. He’d laughed at her ideas of saving the world, said she was stupid. Then he’d filled her mouth with bits of dry bread and minced meat. Her stomach churned at the taste. But she’d had to swallow. And now she was tainted.
‘Yes, we were… together.’ Roberta admitted and picked at her bleeding cuticles. Not any longer. James was no longer.
‘And you have no idea why someone would want him dead?’
She squinted at the detective. His eyes were puffy, his skin pocked with acne. See, that’s what food did to a body. She shook her head.
‘Are you sure about that?’
Roberta bit the inside of her lip, relishing the tangy sourness of blood as the detective produced a plastic bag.
‘You have any idea how these got into your flat? Did you know that James had an allergy? A fatal allergy?’
She picked up the bag and shook her head as a large fat bumble bee rolled around the sides. There had to be some sacrifices after all.