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Crave

A.M. Call lives on the windswept shore of old Salem, land of gallows tour groups and street witches. This story is based on its best cafe. Look for more work in Syntax and Salt and upcoming in the April issue of Unnerving Magazine.
After determining that I had starved myself to invisibility, I left the bathroom, knocking down two margarita-soaked women. They shrieked in columns of tiny, boozy bubbles. Horrified beyond speech, they watched my empty pants step over them. I felt weak and exhilarated.
The others were gathered around our table. Dora, pale as salt, spat oyster crackers into a napkin. All I could see of Rob was his right arm with its IV nutrient drip. I spread my empty sleeves wide.
Rob's arm trembled. "Jim...."
Dora rose. Her enormous belly bumped my hollow one. "Do it," she whispered. Her eyes were closed. I ran my unseeable hand over her face, through her hair, imagining that I was the wind itself. Delicate white strands snapped between my fingers and floated gently to the ground.
I shed my clothing and upended a heavy table of carrots and beets. Earthy vegans scattered like leaves. A kale-eater cowered. I threw a bowl of cherries at him as a woman flailed blindly with tofu-soft fists. That's when the police showed up. They had infrared goggles and dogs. My lawyer says we may be able to use that in court. Whatever.
When I was a kid, Mom would drown me in orange juice. The blinding, concentrated nausea would light me up with need for her. My skin bubbled with something that hurt in a way that I loved. What a sweet boy, her friends said. Very bright. Then I would go to my mother and give her a sticky kiss.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 21st, 2018


I'm interested in food. Not complex carbohydrates and proteins, or even gastronomic subtleties of taste, but what food means to the state of being human. Vegans entrench, anorexics bristle, and nobody dares eat together for fear of losing their modicum of temporary, possibly meaningless power. How like our strange times. Taste becomes tribe. Tribes go to war. Have a breadstick and settle down.

- A. M. Call

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