One More Bite
by Michelle Muenzler
"The bread is good," our latest guest says, nearly choking on the words as she tries to force the lump down her throat. I don't know her name--names are considered impolite at the giant's table.
Our host gestures at an iron bowl. "And the soup? What do you think of the soup?"
The bulge of bread pauses its passage. With a hard swallow, she thrusts it from further view. "The soup. I'm sure the soup is... delightful. But I don't think--"
"Eat the soup." He pushes the bowl, tiny as a thimble against his massive thumb, closer to her.
Bits of broth slosh over the rim, and her mouth tightens, caught between a grimace and a smile. Tiny bones bob delicately in the liquid.
"Truly," she says, "if I eat another bite, I'll burst." Her skin flutters as though already on the verge of spilling forth its contents. Her hands grip the table ledge.
Our host's face darkens, and the air grows heavy with nascent sparks. "You will eat, thief, or I will strip the flesh from your bones and--"
His head snaps in my direction.
"I would be most pleased to try the soup."
The words take a moment to burrow their way into comprehension, and the room grows darker still. "It is not your soup to eat. Your nightly sup is done, much to my satisfaction."
I ignore him and drag the bowl toward me with arms thickened by hundreds of such meals. "Ah," I say, "but I am hungry still and your table yet brims with delights."
Our host chews on his desire for propriety versus his desire for punishment, but I know from experience not to wait on his answer. Instead, I raise the bowl to my lips, bits of bone tapping at my teeth, and drink. The woman tries to hide her gag as the softened bones, sponge-like from their long simmer, slide worm-like down my throat.