Are you done yet?

A girl sits at the table alone. Food long grown cold. Fourteen peas sit on her plate, one for each year. They look up at her, grey-green in all their pitiful canned mockery of a pea.

“You can’t make me eat them.” And so she sat, caught in a war of control.

And hers hardened. Finally, she was excused from the table, to bed.

“You can’t make me eat.” “I’m not hungry.”
“I don’t feel hungry.”

And so she wasn’t.

For 34 years she wasn’t hungry. And no one could make her eat.

Until one day, she came back. Back for the fourteen year old.

She had come back to this girl before, a littler one. She found the five year old alone in the dark. That one kept herself awake, night after night. Always awake, afraid of the doorknob’s turning.

But the fourteen year old still sat alone. So very alone.
The secrets she carried in her now empty belly had no safe place. The movement that once had stirred there was stilled.

And so her belly too was empty. And for the first time, no one could make her…

A prayer maybe, at the table. “I want to know.”
And so the knowing came, terrible in its raw knowing. And with it, the hunger.

She felt hungry. There, in the stillness of the night. With the knowing came the hunger. And so she ate. And she was full.

Day after day the hunger came, strong first, new in its growling voice, it rumbled. She learned to hear it speak, then caught even the faint whisper of its voice.

Textures swirled, flavors layered, time slowed. And she ate. And was satisfied.

It was done.

Joanna Wilder is a midwife, a mama, and a keeper of her-story. She has a passion for community development, and walking with women. She is learning how much she doesn’t know. Read more of her writing here.