It was understood that she would grow into the table. As all children do. So, she sat small, waiting.
It was breakfast time, a time of few words and a space to wake up, quietly. Quiet was a rule in her house, and everyone obeyed the rules.
A bowl of cereal, the usual, she can’t remember any other kind of start. It had always started this way, with this bowl, with this cereal. And it was always covered in white sugar crystals.
The bowl hitting the table has the sugar dancing in the straw, falling in between pieces, and the whole bowl moves.
Mother pours the milk into the bowl, white, on white, on white.
White sugar, white bowl, white milk, it gets blurry and everything slows down…
Her little face only inches away, she watches. The sugar crystals soaked up by milk crawling between the wheat pieces.
The pattern overlapping wobbles in her eyes, like a weave to a camera lens, it bounces.
Milk, more milk, more, white…
A silent pause before digging her spoon in, watching the milk dance and wondering if what she was seeing was real, or imaginary.
Spoonful after spoonful the little girl ate through what she saw. Because, how could it be real, what she was looking at, and what she was doing?
Another spoon full, now, breathe…
Look at it!
Her cheeks filling with saliva, her tiny body knowing ...
The milk, the sugar, the dancing. The movement was real, the white crawling through the straw was real, but it wasn’t sugar, although the sugar was there. It wasn’t the milk, although it too was there.
It was the maggots.
There were hundreds of them. Tiny little maggots moving around in the cereal, in the milk, and in between the wheat strands. They covered everything, the milk replaced with hundreds of tiny white worm bodies, squirming.
And, she had eaten spoonful, after spoonful, after spoonful of them.
Focus on the sugar, look how pretty that is. Focus on the milk, find the milk...
The faster you eat, the faster they will disappear.
She didn’t protest, ever. She barely took a breath without careful consideration. To be seen and not heard was her place in this home.
Be a good girl. Don’t make a sound. Pretend they aren’t there.
So, she ate through the maggots, and into her imagination.
She could feel the squirming, in her belly, in her throat. Or so she thought. She also thought she would have to cut herself open, if she were to get them all out.
White, on white, on white.
White sugar, white bowl, white milk…
Vomit, the squirming on the linoleum floor, more milk. Tiny feet, dangling…
They say seeing is believing. But what if what you’re seeing is hard to believe?
What is real? Seeing? Believing? Believing in what you’re seeing? Or seeing what you believe?
How does one prepare for the unknown return of something known, but filed, forgotten?
It’s terrifying to be a library with the shelves overflowing and you are constantly trying to catch up on your reading.
The shelves stacked so high books fall from the towers and bash you in the head.
Demanding to be seen, heard, and read.