Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By James Bates

I never did figure out where the voices were coming from, but they were there, that was for sure, day and night, whispering, “Feed us. Feed us, now.”

So I did. Boy, did I ever.

I was fifteen and Mom just thought I’d hit a growth spurt.

A typical day: a dozen pancakes for breakfast. A mid-morning snack of five candy bars. A hot lunch at school plus the bag lunch I’d brought. Then a stop at the fast food place on the way home for large fries, large shake and a couple of quarter pounders. Just enough to tide me over until I got home.

“What’s for dinner, Mom?”

“Spaghetti. Your favorite.”

“Fabulous,” I told her, although at this stage of the game, anything I could put in my mouth was fabulous. One helping. A second helping. Dad sitting there with his mouth hanging open, watching.

I ask him, “Can I finish that?” and point.

“Sure,” he says, as I clear his plate before the word is barely out of his mouth.                  

I wasn’t growing or putting on weight, just eating. A lot.

 After a few months Mom became concerned. “Let’s take you to the doctor.”

“Aw, Mom. No.”

A steely look. “What’d you say?”

I re-think my position. “Sure, Mom. Good idea.”

Doctor Solsvik was a kind man. We talked. He checked me over. Finally, he felt my abdomen. “Good lord,” he gasped. “Let’s get you to x-ray.”

End result: I had a tapeworm. Two of them, actually. Big ones. How they got there no one knows. But the doctor operated and now I’m back to normal. “Eating like a horse,” Mom says.

“I’m a growing boy,” I joke, because I’m pretty sure those tapeworms are gone. At least that’s what they tell me.


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