A/N: A young girl uses a tea cosy in a decidedly unconventional fashion…R for implied violence.
Sarah stood demurely in front of her parents, her hands clasped.
"You won't forget to turn off the lights, will you?" her father asked sternly.
"No, Dad," she said.
"Are you sure you will remember to close and lock all the windows at night and check if the front door is locked?" her mother wanted to know.
"Yes, Mum," she replied.
"Be a nice girl and look after your little brother properly," her parents said at the same time, their voices in perfect sync.
"Yes, Mum, Dad," she affirmed.
Her father grunted and went past her to nine-year-old Jerry.
"Oh, darling, we are going to miss you so much!" he cooed, and her mother ruffled Jerry's hair and squeezed out a tear. Jerry's innocent little face crumpled up as he burst into tears.
"Ohhh, don't worry, Mummy and Daddy will only be away for a week. Sarah will look after you. If she bullies you, or if something happens to you, just phone us up, we've got our mobile phones on us," his mother trilled.
"The taxi has come," her husband said.
The parents hugged their son a final time and walked past Sarah and picked up their suitcases. They left the house and the key turned in the lock.
Jerry stopped crying. He dug his elbow roughly in his sister's ribs. The sixteen-year-old started.
"I'm hungry," he said. She stared at him for a few moments. He kicked her shin.
"I'm hungry!" he hollered. "If you don't give me something to eat, I'll call Mummy or Daddy!"
Sarah went into the kitchen and opened the fridge in order to prepare their dinner.
Dinner consisted of silent munching and occasional thuds as Jerry kicked his sister underneath the table. Her legs were blue with his kicks, and her arms were the same hue with his pinches.
Jerry, the spoilt little brat.
"You're ugly," he piped up, "you're full of boils."
Sarah didn't say anything. She was used to being quiet and submitting to her family's snide remarks.
He had finished eating, and proceeded to wipe his mouth with his hand.
"Use your napkin," Sarah said abruptly.
"I don't see why I should."
Sarah rose slowly.
"Use your napkin," she repeated.
Jerry immediately kicked up a tantrum.
"If you don't let me do what I wish I will call up Mummy and Daddy and they will throw you out of the house!" he screamed.
Sarah knew that it was a hopeless case.
Her brother kept her awake till one in the morning because he insisted on bouncing on his bed and banging against the wall in order to disturb her as much as he could.
Sarah managed to fall asleep only to be woken up at seven by someone shaking her shoulders roughly.
"I want my breakfast!" Jerry screeched into her face.
"It is early. I want to sleep," Sarah muttered.
"I want my breakfast or I will phone-"
"Fine, fine," Sarah sighed and got out of bed. Jerry gave her extra work by throwing down a piece of toast on the floor on purpose and knocking over his mug of milk.
In the afternoon, their parents phoned. Sarah picked up, and the first thing her mother asked her was whether she could talk to Jerry.
Jerry squealed around happily on the phone for ten minutes before hanging up.
Sarah sat in her room reading after the phone-call. She had holidays, and she was stuck at home since she had no friends who would invite her out.
Jerry burst into her room after a few hours.
"Where is my tea?" he shrieked.
Sarah glanced at her watch. It was four-thirty.
"It is rather early for tea," she said abruptly.
"Do what I say or-"
Sarah hastily got up. She made the tea.
"Oh, I might have my tea later. I just remembered my TV-program," Jerry said smugly as she threw out the teabags. Sarah kept quiet and opened a drawer. She extracted a tea cosy and placed it over the teapot. Then she cut herself some bread, because she knew that Jerry would not allow her to eat the biscuits which accompanied teatime. She stared at the tea cosy thoughtfully, and for the first time, a small smile crossed her sullen face. She washed the knife and made sure that there were no crumbs on it and put it on a paper to dry.
The days flew past.
When her parents phoned on the day before their return, she told them that Jerry had gone over to Kim's place. Kim was Jerry's best friend, and they were always going to each other's places and staying overnight. Kim was as spoilt and ill-mannered as Jerry, and the two of them contrived to make a misery of Sarah's life by bursting into her room, pulling her hair, pushing her from behind or jeering at her. Her parents were blind and deaf to what they considered harmless pranks.
When Sarah's and Jerry's parents came back from their holiday, they greeted Sarah, who opened the door for them, stiffly.
"How come Jerry is not back from Kim's?" her mother wondered, looking grumpy.
"Is there some tea?" her father asked coldly.
"Speak up, girl! Are you dumb?"
"Yes, tea is ready, Daddy. I have put the tea cosy over the pot that way it is all nice and warm."
Her parents refreshed themselves in the bathroom and came down. Her father wrinkled his nose.
"There's a funny smell down in the cellar," he complained.
"Must be the drains. We will have to call the plumber," her mother said.
"Did you do anything down in the cellar?" she suddenly snapped at Sarah.
Sarah didn't answer the question. She was arranging the teacups.
"Sit down, please. You must be tired after your trip," she said.
"When is Jerry going to come back?" her mother sighed.
"He will be back soon. He'll be back any moment," Sarah said reassuringly.
"I hope so," her father said, grasping the tea cosy and lifting it off. The next moment, there was a crash of a chair falling over. Her mother screamed and screamed and screamed. Her father clutched at his throat, gasping.
Sarah stood in the corner, her hands clasped, a smile on her face.
Jerry's clumsily severed head was lying in a small tureen. It was still frozen after its long stay in the icebox. The hair and face were full of blood, and the eyes were staring glassily into nothingness.
Sarah didn't move. She had known that the bread-knife would not be strong enough to do the job, but luckily there was a meat-knife in the house. It had been very good indeed. And the tea cosy – it had been outstanding, just big enough to cover the tureen and its occupant. Jerry himself had not been too bad either.