Thursday, March 19, 2009


Kate roamed around the kitchen opening cabinet doors, rifling through drawers, looking for something to eat. She was physically restless but mentally numb, on autopilot. It was almost as if she could look down and see herself walking in circles, see what was coming, but yet was unable to stop it. Or unwilling.

She opened and closed the fridge countless times in her trek around the room, but there was nothing in there she wanted. Of course this was by design, her design. A futile attempt to prevent the inevitable. Along with a door full of condiments the only things in the refrigerator were fresh fruit, raw vegetables, a tofu lasagna, and some bean soup. There was soymilk and orange juice to drink. In the snack drawer of the cabinet next to the fridge were rice cakes and whole grain crackers, popping corn, a small container of raisins and some plain corn tortillas. She could bake the tortillas; maybe sprinkle them with some spices? No, too much work and not enough satisfaction. It wasn’t what she was looking for, longing for.

She opened the cabinet on the other side of the stove once more and this time climbed up on a chair to check out what was on the very top shelf. Whole-wheat flour, baking powder, cornstarch, a box of bran muffin mix, nothing that didn’t require effort or thought, nothing that would meet her urge.

But wait, there it was, a lone can of chocolate frosting, probably left over from Nola’s last birthday when she made those cupcakes. She shouldn’t eat that, it would make her sick, it was pure sugar and God knows what else.

Kate climbed down off the chair empty handed and started to pushe it back to the table where it belonged, but stopped. She left it where it was and made another pass around the kitchen, half-heartedly looking for something to change her mind.

Frosting wins, she knew it would the minute she saw it.

Frosting wasn’t the sort of thing you wanted someone to catch you eating. That would be embarrassing, pathetic even. Instead, frosting was the sort of thing you ate alone, in a bedroom, with the door locked. Or maybe it was like fast food you ate in your car, parked on a side road with no houses, stopping your feeding frenzy every time a car went by so no one could see.

But to take her frosting for a drive would be too silly. The bedroom was fine.

She grabbed a glass of milk and tucked the can of frosting under her shirt, just in case someone came home as she was going up the stairs.

Safely locked in her room she sat on the edge of the bed and opened the can. Eating it with her finger seemed somehow less intentional than if she’d used a spoon. She crooked her finger and dipped it into the smooth gooey confection and scooped out a great glob, licking her finger clean and plunging it back in to the sticky chocolate, repeating the process mindlessly over and over until the can was almost empty. She knew she would feel sick, shaky, nauseas, her teeth aching from the sweetness, but she could not stop. She didn’t want to stop.

When the can was empty she wanted something savory, needed something salty to counterbalance the sickeningly sweet chocolate. The tortillas? No, too much work. Maybe the popcorn?

She found herself in the kitchen again. This time she decided to make toast with lots of margarine – margarine was a treat she rarely allowed herself and when she did it was in measured teaspoons, one, maybe two at the most. Now she placed eight slices of bread into the toaster oven and waited by the window, in case someone came home. If they did she would quickly toss the bread outside and say it was old, stale, fit only for the birds.

Toast done she began to slather margarine on each piece, placing it back into the hot oven to melt it better. She thought for a minute, then grabbed a plastic shopping bag out from under the sink and placed all the toast, neatly stacked, inside so she could carry it back upstairs without anyone seeing if they came home right at that inopportune moment.

Once back in her room again, once the door was locked, again, she sat on the edge of the bed and ate the toast, margarine dripping, the hearty, nutty taste of wheat made her feel warm and satisfied. She took big bites, eating each slice in no more than three bites, letting the fat slathered bread fill her mouth up, not thinking about anything but feeling the sensation of chewing and swallowing, the taste of the rich salty margarine, and smelling the faint charcoal aroma of the slightly burnt edges, just the way she liked it.

When she was finished she knew she wasn’t done. Now she wanted something sweet again. She went back downstairs and decided to make cinnamon popcorn. She dug out the hot air popper from the lower cabinet next to the fridge and measured out the corn kernels. Then while the popper was heating up she grabbed a stick of margarine and placed it in the skillet and put it on the back stove burner to gently melt. She got out the cinnamon, found the sugar, and begain making a mixture of generous proportions in a cereal bowl, adding more and more cinnamon to the pile of white granuals until the color looked like the right shade, the way she remembered it should look. When the corn had popped and the margarine was melted she drowned the popcorn with it, almost making it too soggy. She took the cinnamon sugar and sprinkled it liberally over the damp popcorn, tossing it around, watching as it turned that beautiful, shiny caramel color whenever it hit a margarine wet spot.

Once again she climbed the stairs – no need to be so covert this trip, no one knew what she’d already eaten and the popcorn looked harmless, you couldn't tell how much margarine was really on it unless you tasted it. It looked pretty normal. Like a normal person’s snack.

Later, Kate would lie on the bathroom floor, cool tile against her face, wishing she could vomit the very depths of her interior out from within her. But she could never bring herself to stick her finger down her throat, never bring herself to get rid of the enormous mountain of crap she stuffed into her body. She just lay there wishing it would happen without her having to help it along. Without her having to do a thing, she wished she would throw it all up so she could feel better. She wished she were empty again.

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