Oatmeal

(have more in my head about this and much editing to do but dinner is ready and is starting to burn…)

There was a period of four weeks when Anna was fourteen that she consumed only oatmeal with a spoonful of brown sugar and whole fat milk drizzled slowly into the craters and valleys that formed in the bowl. It was the only thing sounded good to her to eat,  the thought of anything else felt wrong and obscene so she made it for herself before school, on her lunch break after trudging in sleet and ankle high snow from the school to her family’s small apartment, and again for dinner while her mother made something simple and protein rich for herself and Anna’s father. Anna felt nauseated by these simple meals: liver, onions, mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes and carrots, applesauce. The scratched white porcelain oven that was furnished with the apartment’s lease appeared to have a nest of roaches living behind it, and Anna’s mother was usually too busy and tired to tackle the infestation properly, like the other mother’s in the neighborhood would. Anna had no idea how to tame them or eradicate them. So she simply ignored them while she stirred her oatmeal, which blessedly cooked quickly, and took to eating  her little bowls of oatmeal on her bed while doing her homework or reading or listening to her collection of slightly warped records on her most prized possession: her blue and grey Masterwork phonograph. It was given to her by her father, who loved music exactly as she did: with his whole body and with his eyes closed.  The first album she remembered hearing was Rachmaninoff when she was five, and she remembered watching her father go slack-muscled, his eyes closing slowly as if falling asleep, before putting his head in his long-fingered hands and swaying a little to the music. Anna was a little frightened of the effect of the music on her usually jovial and silly old Dad, whose tie was always a little crooked and whose large feet tap danced even when he was sitting in his chair, but after she felt the way the music made her heart beat slowly and with a new purpose, she didn’t think it was strange anymore. It wasn’t long before her eyes closed, too.

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