I can feel the burn of their taunting eyes. The slow drag of tongues over lips betrays their anticipation as I swallow. My smile emerges as a grimace. Strange. I was pretty sure that I was grinning just a moment ago as I put the chopsticks to my mouth. Odd. Everything is a little bit blurry, but I can’t figure out why. My recollection of the events leading up to this seems to be as fuzzy as my vision. What had I done? Ah yes, a few minutes ago I had boasted that I could conquer any food. What a fool I was to take this food. And to eat it, that vegetable gleaming so innocently red.
My gasp only drags the agony downwards. Yes, now I know why my lips refuse to turn upwards, and why my eyes are drowning.
My cutlery clatters as my hand claps over my mouth. It burns. Little imps with thorny feet are summoning a demon on my tongue.
I should have known better, but I really am too easily fooled. It was sweet at first, caressing my tongue with its smooth outside, sliding reassuringly past my lips. Encouraged, I bit down. Fire exploded, sending molten sensations throughout my mouth. Like an angry firebird it spread its wings, consuming all until only flames were left, encasing my tongue in its wretched dance. It screeches whenever I breathe and caws its horrible laughter when I attempt to soothe its fiery wrath.
Water falls, abandoning me along with my ego, along with my trust.
My other hand flounders, searching desperately as my mind screams obscenities. I must have looked comical, with a face as red as the source of my agony. So powerful it was to have taken over my body so quickly, so easily. Sweat trickles down my neck, and I can only dream of the soothing embrace of the Northern winds.
I can hear their laughter, as agonizing as the little imps sashaying across my tongue. Into a jester they had made me. What I thought was bravery was naught but foolishness.
Salty droplets flee for the safety of my shirt. Proof of my failed conquest. My hand lights upon a small white package, and I grin again. Or was it grimace? I manage to wrestle my other hand away long enough to open it and pour the content into my mouth in sweet, sweet relief.