“Well, I got fired from my job today.” I remember it as clear as day. She wanted us to be scared. “You and Harry won’t be able to eat anymore. Especially since your fucker of a dad never sends the support he owes me, we won’t be eating. I don’t know how long we won’t be eating.”
She said “we” that day, but as time went on, she was the one eating. My Mom had money stashed away somewhere and, little by little, she was bringing home scraps of groceries. She would make a bowl of soup one night, a meatloaf another. She would sit and eat the meatloaf in its entirety, take a plateful to Harry, and come back out to wrap the rest of it up in plastic wrap. Threw it in the refrigerator and snapped the lock back on the door so I wouldn’t go “squandering” as she called it. The next day, I’d see her throwing away things that went bad and she would dump the whole piece of meatloaf directly in the trash. From the den, stomach rumbling, I would wonder why she hadn’t offered it to me.
I had stopped going to kindergarten. From my point of view, it seemed like nobody was calling after me. That, mixed with the fact that I wasn’t eating aside from the few things I was able to pick out of the trash, and I myself felt like that very trash.
So one day I walk into the den and my mother has her feet kicked up on the coffee table, she’s watching the television that she still somehow pays for every month, and Harry is sitting on the floor off to the side with a bowl of grapes in his lap. They both look at me as if they’re expecting me to say something, but I say nothing at all. I just stand there and stare as I usually do, never understanding why any of this is happening to me. Wondering why, at five, I’m a target.
“Is there something I can do for you?” my Mom asks in this snarky tone that leads me to believe things will only escalate from there.
I shake my head from side to side and just keep standing there. By now, at five, I’m eyeing up the grapes in my brother’s lap and my internal drooling system is full force.
“Are… you hungry?” she continues to ask, a small smile forming on the creases of her face. “Is that what it is? You’re hungry?”
“Yes,” I barely whisper, stomach growling away at a rate I hadn’t known was possible.
“Well, Mommy hasn’t gotten another job just yet and, until I do, I don’t see that happening.”