You sit in the darkness of your closet and wonder if your clothes will smell like fried chicken when you show up to work tomorrow. This is the only way that you can eat it—with the door all the way shut, your back against the wall, legs outstretched in a wide V and the plate of Kentucky fried chicken on the floor between them. You had to throw away the bucket so that he wouldn’t find it.
You think about your heart pounding in your chest as you swallow whole pieces of chicken and lick the grease off your fingers between bites. You should be able to eat food without words like pig, slob and ugly flying like arrows at your head.
Eating in a closet is easier than eating at the dining table. Remember how you told him that the goddamn table was too big for the kitchen nook, but he insisted on it because it was sturdy and made of solid wood? It would last through the years of abuse from your thunder thighs, he said. Loving him is like being thrilled to jump out of a plane then realizing the parachute won’t open.
If he didn’t compare you to a cow yesterday, or grab the skin around your waist between his thumb and index finger, twisting until you cried out, you wouldn’t have to wonder if this is what it feels like when people burn to death. How the slow burn of his words start with melting your flesh and then move to your insides. You’ve been on fire for years.
Food is like water for that fire. For just a minute, you think maybe you won’t get swallowed up by the darkness in your closet or the sinkhole in your body. Maybe you won’t break into pieces small enough to cause splinters after that parachute won’t open. Maybe you won’t smell like fried chicken tomorrow.