story teller: hungry

blue bubble calamity clean


food. not eating. trauma. mental disorders.


The bouquet wilted over a week ago and the dry leaves have slowly fallen into a puddle of muddy water. He double-taps the surface of a farmhouse table something you would see in a Viking movie. The day has been long and hot. His skin burned with sweat and fever. But that is of no concern because it’s a mild fever of delusions. Otherwise, if it was a fever of temperature, he would have gotten over it by now.

Raindrops spit on the window. His cohabitant lies like a stone statue unmoved for days. He stares at his roommate wondering how the corpse got blue hair. How was that task accomplished? Who has decided to colour his corpse roommate’s hair? But quickly, he rather prefers to focus on the pink skies and part the clouds with his mighty mind, and see the sky turning dark and furious, shedding its blood-red skin. Laughter fills the outside world. Here inside the hospital cage, the winding road is however perilous.

There is no escape literally from this internal hell. Welcome to Justin’s tapping and Mikey’s stone shell of a young man. Two wolves frozen in ice, and Justin gets to his feet embracing himself so as not to let the demons in. He shakes in tears. He decides not to wipe them off, sweeping his fears into a cluster. Like a balloon at any moment, his sanity may unwillingly pop. He’s been poisoned. That’s what he believes. That is his worry. The battle with food. The countless dissecting and tracking chips he has swallowed after every bite. Now the nano-bugs are eating his insides. His lungs. His gut. His brain.

The tune of torture, so, he stares at the tray of food, his midday feeding. Like cattle being fattened for slaughter. But he refuses to eat until the pain in his stomach becomes unbearable. Until the sedatives are too powerful to ignore, making him susceptible to control, and making him obey.

How easily do they control him? And he swallows the white and yellow capsules followed by dry toast and cheese strings. If only he was grateful for the sun, maybe all of this would turn around. Maybe his ideas would tick in reverse. But here he is drinking the glass of water left by the nurse and apple juice. See, how easily they control him.

Apple juice, his requested menu item. Orange juice makes his gut protrude out of his body. A snake swimming in its swamp. His stomach is the swamp full of chemicals, dirt, and poison. Food is a diabolical matter. The tapping continues on the drawing of a farmhouse table. The dead flowers remind Justin of his death, of everyone facing that one final disease. He feels the snakes moving, feeding on the gulp of apple juice he just swallowed. How quickly they attack and turn his stomach into a chemically infested marsh.

He stands paralyzed by all the thoughts but he knows it’s the nano-bugs eating at his brain. He just swallowed two-hundred milliliters of them.

Devour. Devour. A distant echo bounces around the room and Justin turns to his corpse roommate wondering when will Mickey become a zombie. The walking dead. Will Justin’s flesh taste favourable to eat or will Mickey taste the poison cursing through him and spare Justin of a dreadful pain?

Devour is a disgusting and vulgar word and Justin shifts his focus once again onto the tray of food. Devour, the word becomes louder. Devour! The word is yelled this time. By whom? By what? Justin doesn’t know and as much he doesn’t care. The fact that the word can exist all on its own is disturbing enough for Justin. His hands quiver lightly as he reaches for the plastic spoon. The corn appetizer looks seductive, enticing his mouth to foam and drool. The tears begin to roll again, knowing well that if he feeds his hunger, he will once again fill up on nano-bugs, monitoring chips, poison. Whatever word he gives it, it’s all the same, dangerous. If he continues to betray his body, he will give away his control for them to do as they will. To burn him at the stake. To nail him to the cross. To sink him to the bottom of the lake.

The spoon seems like an inadequate tool and Justin places it back into its pouch. The tears keep on coming. His fingers trace along the letters spelling out “Memorial” and he gently loops a noodle soaked in butter around the tip of his finger. Then spreads his fingers to a claw and grabs onto one string of noodles and pulls it out of the braid, up, up to his mouth. The butter gives it a favourable taste and Justin chews it for a while. He picks another string and does the same all over again. Then another string. Then another, managing to get one-fifth through the serving. Then suddenly stops, only to imagine what his vomit would look like. He imagines the string of noodles coming up as glitter and glowing in colours of a rainbow. Because inside his stomach the acid has peeled the outer layer of the dough and revealed the mechanical devices hidden beneath. With that thought, his eyes settle on the withered flowers once again. The constant reminder of how his life is fleeting, how his girlfriend came to see him, how she left with a smile. How his friends came for a visit and left chattering like a running motor. How his father is a giant that never laid a hand on Justin. How his mom brought over the flowers and Justin refused to toss them out.

To make the room a little homey. His mom would say. Like that made any difference. It is still a prison cell where Justin is forced-fed the nano-bugs to keep him under control, to keep him obedient and in control. And he lifts the food tray and flings it like a frisbee toward the vase and its dead flowers. The plastic vase only bounces as it hits the floor. The tray and its contents however carry a louder noise. One nurse runs in to wage the war with Justin’s temperament or maybe there-lack-of. Justin and the nurse exchange glares and both freeze. Justin pauses in his stance. The nurse quickly scans Justin’s face and then the mess behind him.

Mikey however continues to lie in his bed unbothered by the clatter.


The worm has made its way to my gut and now it’s ruling my mind. I tremble in fear. Enough is enough. I scream, “Blah! Blah! Blah!” and touch my belly and pray upon it. “Universe, can you hear me? Let this day be the one. The one with answers. Provide me answers, Universe. Please, provide me answers.”

Answer the door. Answer the knock. No window in the door, I cannot peek out and see. This beauty of a pain-free day. I screwed up. I have omitted what was so plainly in front of me. The white pill with an ‘x’ in the centre. I should have swallowed it and been done with it. The next day is on repeat.

Now I sit here in pain, wondering when will all of this end.

“Mommy! Mommy!” A dying echo of my childhood. Those days I sought my mother’s attention. Nothing was given in return. The oxygen to my life.

“Good morning,” Edwin enters the sunroom.

But is it even a good day? The presumption? How devastating. The assumption that everything is honky-dory.

“Good morning,” I answer like a robot. Yet no answer from the universe.

“How is your morning?” My husband, Edwin, asks.

“Not so good,” I answer and we go in circles as such every morning. The fact is that it’s not even my gut that’s the cause of all of my pain. It’s the memories trapped in my head, trapped in every cell of my body. The cells, never forget the pain. The pain coded to the smallest crumbs of me.

“Mommy! Mommy!” The memories return for another spin. I don’t even recognize my voice but I do recall calling out for my mother on many occasions.

“Omelet for breakfast?” Edwin asks.

“Sure,” I reply still in the fog of my recollection, so my eyes stay frozen, piercing through the glass, looking at the haze of the winter lake and white trees.

I could feel my father’s soft fingers holding mine as we danced, silly and laughing. I barely reached his torso, but on my tippy-toes, I would lift off the floor ever so often when we went in circles, and then I would fall to the floor catching the air and laughing. I must have been six. My mother, on the other hand, would sit still, stuck in a trance and grief, and at times with discontent. The flavour of our happiness at times didn’t attune to her disapproval. My father and I were too childish and too loud for her. “There shouldn’t be any noise in the world,” she once blurred out, not angrily or to anyone in particular. So, most of the days we were unforgiven for our behaviour.

I finally look up at my husband, Edwin, as he places the plate on the side table so gently that there’s barely any sound. I almost didn’t hear him. “It’s so peaceful here,” I utter in a soft and calm hush. The tone that mothers use to put their children to sleep. Then turn to register the food. Two-egg omelet with onions, red bell peppers, and a side of bacon. “I love you,” I whisper as if my energy diminished altogether, and was sucked into the abyss. The dark blue abyss. “I like it when it’s peaceful,” I conclude.

Thirty minutes pass when Edwin returns to the room. I know it has been thirty minutes because I heard the opening and closing themes of the morning show. “Still haven’t taken a bite,” he notes as he enters the room.

“No, I’m sorry,” the fork in my hand, unmoved and I shift in my seat acknowledging the omelet. My nemesis but I take a bite and then another. Cold eggs don’t taste appetizing but I need the protein to live and I smile at Edwin, proud of the two bites. He smiles back. “Do we have anything planned for today?” I ask.

“Yes,” he answers, “Ollie’s visiting at noon.”

“Yes, Ollie,” I mutter. “I’ll be ready. Don’t worry. I’ll be ready,” and I set the fork down. With that Edwin takes the plate with the omelet 99 percent still intact. “I’ll have a croissant at lunch,” I reassure. “With butter and jam. And maybe some tea,” I add.

“Okay.” Edwin simply answers and leaves me be.

The monotony of my memories. The reflection of me is so familiar. The reflection of my mother bundled in a blanket, muttering softly, “It’s so peaceful here,” the day she entered the nursing home. I’m almost her age now, the age when she went for her first visit to the sanatorium. That is what she called a rehabilitation health centre. Her mind deteriorate to a stand-still or at least that is how she liked her mind to be: unresolved and uninvolved. For the longest time, I couldn’t spare to say neglected. But that is how I felt in all of my mother’s discontent, neglected. And now my body aches everywhere and no one can establish an answer to the physical pain. All the tests come back clear and in good standing. But, I keep on aching, lifting my stiff body out of the chair and making my out to the cold barefoot and determined.

“I like to sit here for a moment,” I mutter as Edwin follows me out. “Here in the snow.”

Let the cold seep in. Let the cold break the silence. Let the cold take me away.

No more aches. No more hunger.


“Why don’t you eat?” The bobbing boy, Kevin, keeps on asking me as if my obvious answer wasn’t registering.

So, I repeat myself for the hundredth time, resting my blue paste-dipped fingers in the centre of the half-mudded paper, “I just forget to.” The preoccupation with constant worry about my surroundings, my breath, and my well-being, exhausts me and time sheds the day and the night. There are no minutes left to eat. Isn’t that obvious? Isn’t that a common structure of human behaviour? Some eat their feelings. Others starve them. I tend to starve mine.

“Plausible,” Kevin says in a middle of a thought as if still deliberating my answer. “But,” and then he pauses. “Plausible.” With that he returns to the assignment, drawing out his feelings, his thoughts, and the moment.

All about the fucking feelings, thoughts, pain, evaluation, understanding, and omission. Whatever the subject tends to take a hold of our artistic creation. I have no artistic aspiration, so I simply draw spirals and stab the paper to attack, to rage my frustration. The embodiment of a madman entrapped by his passion. A creator. An artist. I think we give too much merit to the word passionate. I can confess in this instant I am not feverish with passion. Rather it’s nurturing anger and worry. Worry whether my next breath will be my last. Whether my spleen will fight off the constant invading germs. Whether the bulging stone felt at the left lower quadrant of my stomach is a growing tumor, a cyst, an ulcer, or Crohn’s. Whether the twitch in my right eye is a result of iron deficiency. Whether my parents love me or whether they have left me here indefinitely. Whether the jingle in my head is real or a manifestation.

At least with all the worry, I stopped puncturing the paper and look over to Kevin’s drawings. There is one of a penguin. Another one of bright red lips. One of the noodles spilled out of a bowl. And then one drawing he purposely lays in front of me, the one of quaintly painted muffin in faint blue and purple. “Eat it,” he instructs, taunting me, and smiles as if being silly. He rips the paper into uneven halves, crumbles one half, then the other he hands it over to me. A dare.

Before I take a moment to register my next move, Kevin shoves the ball of paper he was holding into his mouth and starts chewing, chewing to a point that it becomes a mush in his mouth. Liquefied and pulpy mass of white, grey, blue, and purple begins to seep out of his mouth, down to his chin and his neck, dripping to the table and onto a blank piece of paper. “Eat your art,” and begins to laugh as if he held some inner joke that no one was exposed to. “Taste your feelings,” and he hoots another howl of laughter.

The thought of tasting your feelings seems an appetizing concept. I crumble the other half of half torn image of the muffin and shove it into my mouth. My mouth begins to water and I suck in my stained saliva. The taste is horrendous and I gag. I spit the ball of paper out of my mouth. Quickly followed by an empty vomit as there is no feeding to purge. I haven’t eaten a full meal in days. Maybe a nibble here and there when I’m reminded to do so. Hunger seems to not exist in the state of worry. My mind switched off such gut communication. The brain-gut link severed. Maybe permanently. If only I could stop to exasperate. The thought that my tongue will swell and I will choke. The final consequence of my life, a self-inflicted poison. But the occupational therapist doesn’t seem to be preoccupied with that concern. After all, it’s flour, salt, water, and food colouring. Can’t go wrong with homemade paint, as if permitting me to gulp it without worry. However, she doe notice me gagging and attempting to vomit.

“Kevin, Jesus!” She exclaims and that prompts Kevin to laugh. She rests on my side and leans down to see if I’m okay. Turns to Kevin and sternly orders, “Please take a break.” Then turns to me and softly asks, “Jacob, why do you always listen to him?”

“I thought it was funny.”

“Vomiting isn’t funny.”

My demeanour changes as the weight of my wrongdoing sets in. “No, it isn’t,” I add somewhat deflated and guilty. “But, it’s better than smoking.”

She smiles, “Clever.”

But I don’t feel clever. If anything I feel horrendous, like the ball of paper and paint in my mouth. Disgusted and worried. “Will I die?” I ask.

“No,” and she squeezes my shoulder as if to reassure me. “Just let me know if you’re feeling sick.”

“Okay,” I say holding my stare with hers. She has kind eyes and she’s pretty. And then I worry. Have I looked at her for too long? Am I being weird? Am I creeping her out? Am I making her uncomfortable? Can she tell what I’m thinking?

The new set of worries begins.

© Jacob Greb — 2022

return to Story Teller

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.