It was one of those things that brought back disagreeable feelings. Associated with connotations of gagging
. Even now as he was preparing, she could feel the constriction in her throat. The very odor snaking its way through the air made her want to wretch
vehemently. She fought these overwhelming sensations, recognizing them for the echoes
of past distress that they were.
He looked so pleased with himself as he set up. She bit back the nausea building, creeping up within her torso. He knew. He KNEW how she felt, yet he planned it anyway amused at her apparent discomfort.
"This is going to be good for you", he said. "Your body needs this"
The words reverberated within the confines of her mind mingling with the authoritarian tones of a deep not so matronly voice.
"I know what's best for you."
His voice laughing, blending with her mother's voice, stern and cold. He was entertained by her anxiety, by her battle with unappetizing recollections. He pushed at them - regaling in her expression of distaste at the slimy view of the organ.
"I know what's best for you. You ARE going to eat this"
Her mother was angry, mouth pinched, eyes cold.
"You will do as your told"
The six year old grimaced at the liver sitting on her dish staring up at her. The first bite felt all pasty/slimy/gross and tasted horrid as she swallowed it. It was as bad as eggs, if not worse. She shuddered.
"But I don't like it", she said quietly looking down at her fingers fidgeting with the napkin in her lap.
A hand slammed down on the table next to her nearly toppling her glass of milk, making her jump. Her heart pounded in her chest thudding loudly in her ears. She knew it could have been her head being cuffed instead for back-talking again. She felt her chin being held tightly as fingers and thumb dug into her cheeks forcing her to look at her mother. She kept her eyes focused on the mouth.
"There are millions of starving children who would be grateful for this food. You will sit here until you finish every bite. Do you understand me?"
The words hissed through clenched teeth, reeking of manhatten. The edges of her mother's mouth whitened and anger flushed her already ruddy cheeks. Abruptly she let go, turning away from the silent tears of the unyielding child.
She sat miserably staring at the plate watching it grow cold but unable to make herself to put it between her lips. Two hours later her mother reappeared.
"Fine, so be it. You can go to bed without dinner then"
She ignored the rumbling in her belly as she slipped into dreams of feeding skinny children on playgrounds under the junglegym.
The next morning when she was ready for school,she sat down to breakfast. On the placemat before her was the previous night's meal-cold. She looked up, puzzled, at her mother who had a blank look on her face.
"You will eat this. You will get nothing else until you've cleaned your plate. And because of your behaviour, you will now have to eat it cold. It was your choice."
She looked to her father who shrugged, folded up his paper, and left the table. She went to school hungry. She came home to "that plate". She drew a face with her fork in the meat. She sat there all afternoon watching it ogle her with unblinking eyes. Her stomach hurt. She tried to eat it, but it left her gagging up the chunk back to her plate.
Dinner for everyone else that night was spaghetti and meatballs. She still had that horrible dreadful slab of cold disgusting meat facing her and a gnawing pain in her gut.
That night she hugged a pillow to her tummy and dreamed of chubby kids sneaking her food underneath the monkey bars.
By morning her body was shaking. Again, the same plate. She was beyond hating it now. So hungry, the ache in her belly was unbearable.
"Please? Can I have some milk at least," she asked?
Her mother shook her head no but her father intervened and brought her a giant glass. She cut the despised food into small bits then swallowed each with great gulps of milk, aware when one accidently brushed up against her tongue on the way down. Her mother smiled with satisfaction at winning the battle.
"Now you know how to be grateful."
She ran into the bathroom and promptly threw up, only to be soundly thrashed for it immediately afterward.
"I've seen you eat liver before." He shook his head at her. "You're being ridiculous. It's all in your head."
"I ate it because I was anemic and the doctor recommended it for the health of the baby AND if you will recall it was also buried in mounds of mashed potatoes, gravy, onions, and bacon, followed by chugs of milk."
"Your mom said you used to always eat it."
"I learned it was better not to disobey, let's leave it at that."
She forced herself to eat a small portion of the meal he prepared, even as her stomach recoiled. She managed a few bites smothered in everything else before pushing the plate away with a look of distaste. He frowned at her.
"We like it so you had better get used to it. Besides, you're setting a bad example."
"Nope, don't have to get used to it, sorry. And it's not a bad example because I at least tried it."
"Maybe I should make you eat it for breakfast?"
"I don't think so."
There were some things that he would never understand.