Infernos, part 6

Michael’s escape from his night terrors came when the aromas of breakfast tittilated his olfactory. Emma’s welcome caught him in the chest.

“I thought I was in hell.” His voice had been claimed by sleep and he was only able to mumble the words through his cotton-filled mouth.

Emma’s laughter filled the air, echoing like the tinkling wind chimes outside her windows. “You are close enough to hell without having died.” She tugged at an ornately crafted chair. “Sit.”

Michael obliged and discovered a mug full of the nectar of consciousness. Warm coffee soothed his sleepy throat, quenching the rough hollows of his thirst. Peace settled in the kitchen, brought on by the whispers of a foreign hymn on Emma’s lips.

When breakfast had been served to him, Michael remembered his manners. “Thank you for caring for me. I am Michael.”

“I am Emma, and you are welcome.” She blinded him again with her whimsical smile.

“How–” he stumbled at the thought. “How did I survive?”

Emma smoothed a pat of fresh butter over her bread, lips pursed, before she rewarded Michael with a glance and her answer. “A fall is easily slowed when time isn’t in control of it. You did hurt yourself, but you were already sick when you arrived here. We would have been made acquaintances several days before if you had been well.”

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