Feeding Papa

Papa wakes up hungry, lately, and yells when Mama has nothing ready for him.

We huddle upstairs in bed, covers pulled up to our eyes, until the screaming has stopped. Then we tiptoe downstairs, carefully avoiding the dining room, and slip out the back door.

I asked Mama, “Why is Papa always so angry?” She just sighed, touched my cheek, and resumed scrubbing.

Yesterday, Papa went too far. Mama was unable to calm him until she could feed him, and he raged through the house. He caught my sleepy little sister on her way back from the bathroom.

I found him on the stairs, blood streaming down his chin, his eyes black with horror. He choked out, “I couldn’t tell it was her, I was mad with hunger!”

While Mama got her scrub brush out, my brothers and I stayed home and built a locking pine box. Tonight, after Papa is asleep, we’ll roll him into it and throw away the key.

I hope Papa will understand. When my sister rises, we’ll have to care for her. We can’t feed them both.

I wish it would rain.

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