Saliva in my mouth.
I slide my tongue around and blink slow like a newborn creature.
I am staring at the dessert menu. My grandmother is sitting across from me with a terrible frown.
I should get up and walk out of here and delete my mother and grandmother from my phone and block them and block my mother on Facebook and cut off all of my hair and start calling myself
My mother returns from the bathroom and sits in her chair and asks me if I want dessert.
My grandmother is incredulous. She leans forward and looks back and forth between my mother and I. Her mouth is hanging open. Her slimy false teeth are on display. Her eyes are magnified behind her glasses, big blue fucked-up and oily orbs.
Do I deserve a treat? Have I earned this?
“She needs to eat,” my mother tells my grandmother.
Yes. That’s it. I need to eat. I need food.
I put my hand under my shirt and rub my cold little belly. The belly holds like a ball in my palm. My mother is looking for the last of the crumbs on her plate. My grandmother is playing with her purse. My belly fills my palm. Nobody is talking. I haven’t had a treat in a long time. I want this fucking dessert.
I can eat whatever.
This is a funny day.
The waitress comes and I say, “pudding pie.”
My grandmother’s eyes open in wide in human exclamation marks and she leans toward me and her mouth hangs open for a second before anything comes out. I just stabbed her. She’s stabbed. She’s got tomato soup all over her fucking face. Tomato soup dried in the riverbeds. I see a red planet, Mars, that is her face.
“The pie is six dollars!’ she says.
Her eyes start moving around behind her glasses. It looks like someone is shaking a fishbowl. I want to tell her I’m going to puke up the pie later.
My earring is gone.
The earring is gold with an inset diamond. I always lose earrings but I never lose this one. I feel anxious. Something moves inside of my stomach. I hate this day.
Noises in my belly now. I think maybe I’m full. Maybe not. I will still eat the pie. Fuck it. I need energy. The last thing I ate was the dahl. The dahl and then the salad I just had. The dahl and the saldad and the saliva I’ve been swallowing. I need sugar. I need my fucking diamond earring. My grandmother used to live on ration stamps. She used to use molasses instead of sugar. She doesn’t understand a fucking thing. She’s afraid of anything. I imagine shoving cake down her throat. She’s so angry the rivers are pulsating, shaking around on her jowls; she is in a tremor of pre-death greed. I’m shoving cake and putting and brownie down her throat. I’m filling her up like a Christmas stocking. She’s taking it. My hand and fist are down her throat, I’m up to my elbow shoving expensive shit down there. A pie made of Peruvian custard, a tort covered in golden flakes, a jello made of jade.
The waitress is in the display freezer pulling out the pudding pie. My grandmother is digging around in her purse. My mother is sitting in her chair saying nothing. What is this? I look beside me. I don’t want them to notice me looking. I reach down for my purse and scan the floor. My mother’s feet are twitching. She is anxious and urgent. I watch them move around. Where is my earring? I have a sugar lust! Fuck.
The pie comes and I start eating. I ask for more coffee. My grandmother grumbles again. She starts putting her coat on.
“Mom,” my mother says. “I’m paying. It’s a treat.”
The food just goes in. I can hear it all slopping inside.
My grandmother squeezes the features of her face together as if trying to suck the whole thing away. I imagine her sucking in the plate and the fork. She sucks in the table cloth. The table splinters and sucks right into her face. I’m sucked in. My mother is sucked in. The restaurant is sucked in. The whole town is sucked right into her face and she’s covered in debris, breathing heavily, examining the bill in the middle of nothingness, debating whether to tip or not.
This lunch is worse than I thought.
Before the last bite of pie is gone my mother pulls something from her purse. There’s a clicking.
She sets a bottle the table between the three of us. The bottle has my name on it. It’s filled with little white pills. My grandmother smiles a little. My mother smiles a little. I smile a little. Are we all smiling for the same reason? No. No. None of us are actually smiling. I’m just smiling so hard on the inside that everything outside of me appears to be smiling.
She did bring a gift. I love my mother.
I reach for the pills. My mother’s hand comes out from beneath the table. She puts her hand over mine.
“I love you,” she says. “You should come and visit more often. We worry.” I look at her. She’s looking at me, right in the eyes. Her hand is long and strong and creamy. Her skin is warm, which means my skin must be cold. My hand looks sick, yellow under hers. She is kind but she doesn’t look worried. I look at my grandmother. She doesn’t look worried either.
I want to get out of here. I want to grab the bottle and run. Leave the earring as a tip.
“Those should last,” she says. She moves her hand away.
I offer to leave the tip, but I’m refused. My grandmother wipes tomato soup from around her mouth. She gives me a kiss on the cheek. I can smell some cheap lineament on her neck. I leave the cafe. My mother paid with a credit card. Out on the street a little bit of snow falls from the grey. Snow. Fuck.
I’m walking. My phone vibrates. I see a text from my mother.
- You dropped your earring
My diamond earrings. I like diamonds on me.
I think of my body covered in diamonds.
I think of getting vajazzled with diamonds.