by Holden Lyric
She always loves the smell of her mother’s freshly baked apple pie. She never dares eat it, though. She always appreciates the smell of food more than the taste. Just the thought of eating makes her stomach ache like a battle wound.
Every night at dinner time she sits down at the table with her mother and father. Her dad blesses the food and her parents dig in. Passing the salt and pepper and potatoes. Clinking silverware against porcelain plates.
And every night she gets sent to her room by her father.
“Your mother slaved over this food,” he says, “the least you can do is eat it.”
She casts her eyes down and combs her fork through her neglected dinner.
“How was school?” her mother asks, changing the subject.
She remains silent. She never did like chewing the fat. She just stares over her father’s shoulder at the clock with the pendulum. The clock hasn’t worked for years. No one ever bothered to wind it back up. Her father hates the noise it makes. Her mother hates that her father hates it.
“Go to your room,” her father says. His words are sour as vinegar.
She lifts from her seat delicately and walks toward the stairwell. Her father throws his plate against the wall. The food flies all across the dining room. Her mother is crying. She closes the door to her room and watches her digital clock with one eye open. She shuts her eye and opens it over and over again waiting for each minute to pass.
There is a knock on her door. Her father appears red as a tomato. She is silent as a lamb as he angrily stuffs bread into her mouth. She swallows it harshly, tears threatening to rupture. Her father leaves. Her mother ascends the stairs and tells her she’s taking her for ice cream. Her father slams his bedroom door. Her mother winces. As the girl walks down the stairs with her mother, her feet are met with a soft consistency. She looks down to see her toes seeping into the potatoes scattered along the floor.
She wipes off her sandals on the doormat before climbing into the SUV.
“I hate this gas guzzler,” her mother mutters, “there are starving children in other countries and my car is a glutton.”
They arrive at 31 Flavors. Her mother tells her to pick one.
“They all smell the same,” the girl says.
“Yes, but just taste them, sweetheart.”
She closes her eyes and points to a random flavor.
“Bowl or a cone?” the man behind the counter asks.
The girl shrugs.
“A cone, she’ll have the cone, she can eat the cone, too,” her mother says.
Her mother pays for the ice cream. They walk out of the shop and sit on the iron chairs outside. The ice cream melts down her hand as her mother licks at hers urgently.
“Ana,” her mother begins. The girl looks up but her mother is fixated on her daughter’s melting ice cream cone. “Just a taste. Just try a taste. You’ll like it, I promise.”
The girl looks into her mother’s eyes, soft and sweet.
She lifts her tongue to her ice cream cone but barely reaches the tip before her eyes fill to the brim with tears.
“Ana, what’s wrong? Is it school? Your father? I know he can be overwhelming. You would tell me if it’s too much to handle, wouldn’t you, Ana? You would tell me if you just had too much on your plate, wouldn’t you, Sugar-pie?” her mother asks.
“I’m empty,” the girl says.
“Empty? Then eat!”
The girl shakes her head.
“Nothing will ever make me full.”
She rises from her seat slowly. Her mother’s eyes watch her gingerly as she steps into the street and is swallowed alive by the fast-moving traffic.
Holden Lyric is the Editor-in-chief of Paper Plane pilot Publishing http://thepaperplanepilots.com/.