I am ravenous.
I am starving.
I am so fucking hungry.
The pain twisting in my stomach tightens its grip on my thoughts as I attempt to enter my apartment. I struggle to unlock the door. My waning energy causes my usually dexterous fingers to fumble and then drop the keys. I grumble to myself as I finally swing open the door and slam it shut behind me.
I wander into the kitchen unaware of my movement. A mist drifts over my thoughts and the pain in my stomach seems to fade as I become accustomed to it. The pain becomes one with me; enveloping me entirely.
I open the refrigerator.
I close the refrigerator.
I open the pantry door.
I close the pantry door.
I wander back to the refrigerator but I know nothing new and more appetizing will have appeared in the past thirty seconds. So I pass the fridge and wander into the living room. I collapse on the couch and grope blindly for the TV remote that I am sure is somewhere within reach. With growing disinterest, I press the power button on the remote, and choose a show to watch while feeling utterly detached from my actions. So I let the voices from the TV wash over me and I sit with my hunger; I distract myself from it; I bottle it up.
I follow my mom and dad through the door of my grandmother’s tiny condo. My backpack weighs me down only slightly more than my trepidation. I drop the bag on the floor by my favorite spot on the couch before letting my mother usher me into my grandmother’s bedroom.
“Oma, look who’s come to visit today!” My mom nudges me with her elbow and whispers in my direction.
“Go give Oma a kiss, Annie.” A hollow feeling grows in my chest as I take two deliberate steps to my grandmother’s bedside. I take her thin and delicate hand in my plump and strong one, then lean in to kiss her cheek. Her skin feels like tissue paper under my touch. I stand up straight and back up half a step to get a better look at her. Her flowery yellow sheets look crisp and freshly washed. Through the window the sun casts a cool pale light on her bed and offers no warmth to us on this early summer afternoon. Oma’s head seems to make barely any dent in her pillow. She manages to look more fragile than a snowflake. Her eyes are what chase all the air out of my lungs. They don’t look bright anymore. The fire I always saw in them is gone and a fog has taken its place. She mumbles something to me and squeezes my hand weakly. I can’t understand what she says so I look to my aunt who sits in the only chair by Oma’s bed.
“She’s glad to see you, Annie. It’s good to have you here.” Aunt Pam looks like she hasn’t left that chair in days. Her shoulders slump and darkness rings her eyes.