I delicately blow on the steam rising from my mug before taking a tentative sip, letting the burning liquid slide across my tongue and swirl around before I swallow. Gripping the mug with one hand, a distraction to keep me from picking at my fingers. A moment of silence, giving me time to think and collect my words before I am forced to respond. Getting my thoughts together, calming my racing pulse, and another tentative sip. Drinking is not out of character for me. They will not notice that my mind is racing, so long as I grip this mug and sip this amber liquid, able to get away with being quiet while drinking this liquid, under the guise of being tired. One sip, a sigh, another blow on the steam. I am able to focus on the feel of the mug, the smooth texture underneath my thumb as I grip the bottom. Focus on the feel of the warm liquid touching my lips, my tongue, and sliding down my throat. Count the bubbles that were created by the cream.
Voices swirl around me, laughter and jokes, yet I sit here stone cold. Withdrawn. A fake smirk plastered on my lips. My voice comes out as almost a whisper, raspy, and controlled. Every word heavy on my tongue. One deep breath, followed by another, in through the nose and out through the mouth. One sip, followed by another, the liquid slowly warming me up from the inside out. I sip and I stew, swirling the liquid in my mug as the thoughts turn over and over in my mind. I pull at the liquid, every drop, until I have drained the mug of its contents. The empty bottom reminding me of just how hollow I feel.