It stands, like a disgruntled bull at the farm gate, watching you as you cross the kitchen. You are followed, the angry eyeballs moving only to track your progress as you tip-toe past on the way to the bread.
'Would you like a sandwich?' you ask, your voice an imitation of innocence. You know your aspie won't have a sandwich, it's the wrong bread, but you pretend not to know and ask anyway, just to break the thunderous silence.
The silence holds, then an exhalation like hornets exiting stage left as your aspie loses the fight between frozen anger and needing to answer a question when it is asked.
'No,' they manage, breathing in, then out, then failing once more to resist routine, 'thank you,' they add, angrier with themselves now as well as you.
You make the sandwich, very conscious of the laser-beam gaze fixed on your back. In trying to pretend normality, you hum a little tune, like you do when you are on your own in the kitchen. Big mistake.
'Stop it!' a strangulated whisper comes from your aspie. Yet another misdemeanor to add to your list. Or their list, you can never tell whose list it is anymore.
'There's yoghurt in the fridge, would you like some?' you venture, feeling awfully brave. If people who understood could see you now, making conversation with a fiery aspie, they would be very proud.
'Ungh!' Your aspie sounds like they just bit their tongue but you are complicit in the ways of such creatures and know the pained squeakish grunt means they are biting back a torrent of flaming fury because you asked another question and now they have to answer it.
'It's cherry!' they gasp, forcing out the reply. 'I don't like cherry!' they add, getting a better hold of their temper and fanning the flames again.
You sigh. This isn't going well. You did hope that by ignoring the steaming firebrand in the middle of the kitchen that you would also avoid the meltdown associated with your terrible crime. But it seems that pretending everything is fine is not going to make this go away.
You sigh again, opening your mouth to say something mollifying, still hoping for salvage.
'It's not like I ask for anything!' The wailing starts from behind and you pause, hand on cheese. 'I only wanted one afternoon to myself!!'
You take your hand off the cheese and look longingly at the waiting bread. Oh well. Turning to face your aspie, you rearrange your face into what passes for I'm Not Going To Lose My Cool and open your mouth again.
Sensing comforting words, the aspie gets in first, keen to stop you from minimising their suffering. 'And I am not making a fuss about nothing!' The hands clench at the sides and the face thrusts forward.
'I know you're not,' you say, accidentally doing an eye roll. As usual, the aspie who notices no expressions ever sees this one thing and takes complete offence.
'Stop rolling your eyes at me!' they shout and turn on their heel, ready for the Storming Out. At the last second, they pause to look back. 'And for what it's worth,' they add, looking justifiably superior, 'I might have wanted to come to the birthday party, if you hadn't sprung it on me.'
The feet march off, the aspie body marches almost in tandem with the feet and the kitchen is clear once more. You turn back to the cheese, thinking how nice it is to have uncomplicated dairy in the room instead of an aspie.
Soon you will have to risk offending them again by re-springing the party invitation. Until then you know to enjoy the quiet time in between, just you and your sandwich and maybe a little glass of something later. With a bit of luck your aspie will sulk all the way through your favourite show and you won't have to swap over to Trucks That Tumble again.
Perhaps tomorrow you could bring up the party? Or maybe the next day? Sometime soon anyway. You have only a month between now and your brother's birthday to convince your aspie to come along. And you know your aspie hates having these things sprung on them.
What was your brother thinking, only giving you four week's notice? Does he not know you need lots of extra time to spoil your aspie's day/afternoon/morning/bedtime? Does he not realise how horrid you will have to be between now and then, with all your awkward silences and making of sandwiches?
Sighing happily, you retreat with your sandwich, pausing a moment to listen for the keyboard clicking in the other room. Safe.
Nodding to yourself, you settle down, ready to recharge for the next time you need to corral your aspie into doing something awful, against their will and just because you want to spoil their day.