Food For Thought

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
Have you ever been so afraid of your own family that the mere thought of them finding out you did something wrong would keep you from doing anything? Meet Benny, his family is worse than yours.

Submitted: April 03, 2007

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Submitted: April 03, 2007

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Benny looked at the chocolate cake and then pushed the plate away. He had had enough and now it was time to say so. Benny looked up at his aunt, Ruth and smiled, took the toothpick from the table’s center piece, and stuck it between his lips.

“You pushed your plate away, sweetie,” Ruth said. She took her oven mitts off and came over.

“I don’t think I can have anymore, honestly,” Benny said. His voice was quiet and earnest.

“Well,” Ruth said. “I didn’t have you to dinner for you not to eat what I’ve made.”

“I know, I know, Auntie, but it’s just that I’ve had so much and my stomach…you know?”

“I know that your mother would be very upset if she found out you hadn’t eaten everything—and all those dying Africans.”

“What?”

“Just a joke.”

Ruth adjusted the tablecloth that was underneath the final plate. The plate was blue and the tablecloth was white—a white sheet on a black table that glistened under the bright light—and Benny’s knife and spoon sat neatly at the side. The fork was on the empty plate farther down the long table. Ruth walked away, picking up the empty plate and walked fifteen feet to the kitchen door.

“Do you want help with the dishes?” Benny called out.

“I want you to finish your cake,” Ruth replied.

Her voice sounded like it was coming through pipes—bathroom pipes, kitchen sink pipes, sewer pipes, all the same. He looked at the plate and the chocolate cake sitting on top of the blue china and the coconut frosting smudged on top. He pulled the plate closer, took the spoon in his hand, relaxed. His stomach was already hurting and he had had so much. He had already had half a turkey—a small turkey but still, a turkey—and yams, four or five, along with the stuffing that was so, so very good. He took a peek at the chocolate and decided that a few more bites wouldn’t be bad. His tongue still worked and so what if he got sick—it wasn’t like he’d have to eat his own puke, too.

Aunt Ruth had wanted him to come over, and his mother had brought him here, and he hadn’t known why until he was through the door. It was all because of what he’d done at school. He had stolen an extra milk and had been caught by one of the evil looking—if not evil sounding—cafeteria women, and they called him to the office, and called his mother—

And his mother had called Aunt Ruth, crying—pleading—for an answer to her unruly child. Benny hadn’t understood though, he had always been so good, always his mother’s favorite son. The milk was the first thing he’d ever taken without asking, without paying, and he’d give it right back if he’d known how much pain he was causing. His mother was strict with him and he’d never dreamed of doing something he wasn’t supposed to, it was just that the first milk wasn’t enough—and he’d find enough by trading up with some of the other kids for his dessert, a piece of pie for half a sandwich was fair enough—but today the school hadn’t made any pie, hadn’t passed out any cookies, or any cobbler. The one slice of pizza and macaroni and cheese (with white cheese a lot like milk) were not enough and his mother never let him clip his ticket twice—he didn’t dare do that, and he didn’t dare go the rest of the day hungry again. His stomach would growl so loudly and his class mates that sat near him—Becky Applegate in particular—would look at him with snaky eyes.

Now he was here, in his aunt’s dining room, shining brightly—the candles still flickered and he would have put them out if he were able to get up, but dinner was starting to get to him.

“Have you finished yet?” Ruth asked as she walked back into the room. She had a cloth in her hands, twisting it left and right to get the water free from her wrinkled skin. She picked up her oven mitts and looked at the plate, and then at Benny. “You haven’t.”

“No.”

“You should, I would.”

“Maybe you have a bigger stomach than I do?”

“I doubt that.”

“You’re older, I’m only ten.”

“But you’re also a growing boy, and you like to drink and eat more than what is given you, so tonight, you’ll get all you can have.”

“But I’ve already had all I can have.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” Ruth said. She walked away and then came back with something shiny and dark in her hand. “I will help you eat it.”

“What’s that?” Benny shuffled in his seat. The object glistened. Ruth walked towards him and pulled out the chair next to Benny and sat down, her necklace creeping close, her blue pearl earrings bouncing against her ear as she sat. There was a smile on her face, slight, transparent.

“It’s for you,” Ruth said. “I want you to finish now.”

Benny took the spoon in his fingers and scraped some of the frosting off the top and put it on his tongue. He licked it off and looked at the dull spoon with the coconut smear covering up the once glittering utensil. “What will you do if I don’t?”

Benny lived with his mother and was used to his mother’s punishment. She would slap him sometimes but mostly it was just spankings and yelling. It was usually spanking though. She would make him pull his pants down and turn around so she could see his private parts and then he’d have to brace his body against his bed and put a sock in his mouth. His dad hated listening to Benny cry and he’d give him his own spanking if Benny did. She would use her hand, which didn’t hurt nearly as bad as daddy’s belt, but she’d spank and spank and spank until they were both crying.

He looked at the shiny black object in Aunt Ruth’s hand and wondered what she would do if he misbehaved. She didn’t answer and he took another scoop of frosting off the top of the cake and placed it in his mouth. His tongue loved the taste of the rich junk food but his stomach was starting to really cry out. It was starting to sound like he had another little boy down deep in his bowels, telling the little boy inside his brain that he’d had enough. He really had, too.

“I am going to cut that little stomach out of you,” Ruth said.

Benny looked at her hand. She moved it into the light and he saw clearly that it was a black knife with an ivory handle. He struggled to find his voice, he tried to speak, he—

“Why d-do you w-want to d-do that?”

“Because Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior—your mother’s Lord and Savior—doesn’t want you stealing. He likes little boys to grow up to be big men that walk in his shadow. He likes his men to die for him when the time comes, and to sacrifice for what is right—and you’re just not right, right now, and we have to change you.”

“W-we?”

“Jesus and me, because your sweet mother—God bless her soul—doesn’t know what to do and wants you to be in heaven when you die so she can have you forever.”

“But if you cut—”

“God’s kingdom is an eternal one and what happens in the flesh is little to what happens up there,” Ruth stated—quite factually—and then placed the knife on the table and grabbed the knife by Benny’s wrist. “Let me help you cut it into smaller bites because the Lord helps those who help themselves and so do I.”

Benny stared at his aunt, one which he had known for as long as he could remember. He put the spoon to one of the pieces of cake that his aunt was cutting away from the main part and then into his mouth. The cake wasn’t big but there was something else cooking in the kitchen—he could smell it coming from the slit under the door. The slit was dark and so was his aunt’s face as she finished slicing the cake. Benny quietly imagined that it would be much the same way she’d slice his stomach. He saw his tummy, white and paunchy, under his shirt, his belly button trying to squirm away from the utter thought of being poked at. He’d put his finger in there before and had been so ticklish that he wouldn’t dare do it again. Benny didn’t think the knife would be very ticklish but it would be cold and he didn’t like that, either.

Benny chewed what was in his mouth and then went after the next piece. He chewed that one, went for the next, chewed that one and kept going until he had slowly gotten through a third of what lay on the blue china plate—but now things were slow going and he felt Ruth looking at him as if she didn’t think that he could do it.

(As if she doesn’t want me to finish it because she likes what’s next best!)

What would be next? He didn’t know and all he could think to do was put another piece of cake into his mouth. His tongue was sticking to his palate and the chocolate seemed like peanut butter that was trying to drown him.

He looked back at his Aunt Ruth and closed his eyes and said, “I can’t eat anymore, auntie, I just can’t.” He felt the tears beginning to boil up in his eyes. The little boy he had imagined was sitting in his stomach, eating what he was eating, was pinching Benny to stop.

“Then lift up your shirt,” Ruth said.

“Auntie, please, can’t I be done?”

“Jesus wouldn’t have asked if he could be done when he was hanging from his cross, neither should you.”

“I’m not—”

She reached her hand out and grasped Benny’s shirt and he suddenly found that he couldn’t move—he was too sick to move, and if he did try to move he’d puke, and he thought now that his aunt just might make him lap it back up.

“—I can’t!”

The tears did spill out now and his Aunt Ruth was infuriated and slammed her open hand against his chest and he fell to the floor with the chair. He heard a snap in the back of the chair and felt as though his own back was what was broken. He leaned over in a wave of sickness and yarked all over his aunt’s hard wooden floor. The puke came out in a slippery flow of first black, and then a pasty beige color—and orange—with green and brown at the very bottom. It all dumped out, splashing back onto his hands.

“You are possessed, child! You are possessed!” Aunt Ruth screamed. She didn’t stop and her voice pierced Benny’s ears like a high pitch bat’s squeal. “You have Satan in you and you must be ridden of it before you are too old and late for God’s White Gate.”

Benny tried to roll over but before he could he felt a cold hand slap on his back and do it for him. His head snapped and then followed and he looked up into the dazing light at the shadow of Ruth’s face and felt his shirt pull up and watched as the white cotton t-shirt went over his eyes. He wanted to scream but couldn’t. His aunt was doing all the screaming that was needed.

“I can’t breath,” he tried to say. “I will eat it all I can’t breathe please I can eat it all!”

He felt that same cold hand on his stomach and he began to jerk his legs, wildly, blindly, and only managed to yank them across the bottom of the table and hurt his shins against the hard oak wood of the base that led up to the top. Then he felt the knife. It was cold and it didn’t tickle—it was too cold to tickle—and if it had, he wouldn’t have laughed. His snot and tears began to stuff his open mouth and both forms of liquid—one thick, one thin, both salty like the turkey he had had for dinner—started to choke his throat. He couldn’t take it, his arms flailed—

Benny found himself standing under the open window of the cafeteria—at the end of the long line that was made of kids that were coming and going, but mostly coming as the lunch hour was still young. He looked down at the blue, two percent milk he had in his hands, and at the chocolate one on his plate. His friend was looking at him from their table and winking. Benny looked at the lunch lady and then back at the chocolate milk. He put the two percent milk back and walked to the table where his friend looked at him, scoffing.

“Why did you put it back?” Benny’s friend asked. “Jake did it and so did I, how can you be with us if you don’t do stuff like that? It’s a dare, Benny; you just can’t NOT do it!”

“Why not?” Benny asked. “You have any idea what my mother will do to me if I get in trouble?”


© Copyright 2018 Justin Schwan. All rights reserved.

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