art by Void lon iXaarii
by Timothy R. Knuck
We ate meatloaf with carrots, celery, and a layer of ketchup that peeled like a second skin. It was reheated and dry and smelled of warmed lettuce.
"Eat up," my dad said.
My mom grunted in approval.
I ate, imagining it was pizza.
We dined on canned peaches and soup; Mom heated it with the portable propane stove. The gassy stench hovered in the kitchen and found a way into my clothes. I asked why we couldn't get fresh fruit from outside.
"Eat up," my mom said.
My dad stifled a cough.
I ate, longing for the meatloaf's flavor and warmth. The cloying texture of the peaches formed a film on my teeth--I picked at it with my fingernail to get rid of it.
We shared a can of tomato soup. It had long expired. Dad gave me an extra spoon of his and smiled, one of his front teeth had gone missing.
"Eat up," he said.
My mom didn't say anything, just stared at her portion and stirred it with her spoon.