Food Is Love

Cecily looked down at her loco moco and swore she saw one of the bright, cartoon-yellow egg yolks wink at her as it sank under a dark, foreboding wave of gravy. When the starter pistol went off, she burst it open with a spoon and devoured it in one bite.

“And the annual Loco Moco Eating Contest is underway!” cried the announcer over the loudspeakers.

The table jumped and rocked. Cecily’s bowl slid back and forth. Her knife and spoon rattled and she snatched them up, saving them from sliding off the edge of the table. She took a breath, and with the round belly of her spoon, nudged the edge of the other yolk.

To Cecily’s right towered “The Gulch,” who was like a garbage truck tipping a trash bin into his mouth.

To her left was a man known simply as “The Pit,” and he finished off each loco moco as if tossing back an oyster.

From the bowels of the giddy, restless crowd sailed a lone cry of dismay. “Cecil! Cecil! Stop this madness!” Claude, her personal trainer, fought his way forward, his blond curls bouncing to the front. “Why are you doing this? You’re only 5 pounds away from your target weight!”

“I like the way I look!” she screamed back, and buried her face into her bowl. When she came back up, her face was a smear of brown and yellow anguish.

“Another!” she cried. A runner sprinted up to her and placed a fresh bowl in front of her. She cut through the egg, letting the bright radioactive yellow bleed and pool into the small crevices beneath the patty and in the pores within the rice. The gravy was beginning to look like a wet, discarded trash bag, and the yolk ran like yellow glue through its little grooves and canals, creating a strange and alien topography.

“Cecily! Carbs!” wept Claude. Celily used her hands to shovel the brown and yellow mash of sulfur and ash into her mouth. “Another!” she screamed.

To hell with the torture, the calorie counting, the nutritional portioning, the ideal weight. To hell with comparing herself with others, with listening to her trainer reaffirm her fears that these other bodies were the idealized states that she could and should aspire to. To hell with the scale, pound after pound of gain and loss, the setbacks, the little victories, reward snacks and cheat days. She liked herself. She was beautiful. When did she start to question it? Where did she go wrong?

The Gulch and The Pit exploded into a puffs of smoke. They were done.

Cecily punched her fist into the bowl and extracted the grisly, mangled hamburger patty as if it were a blackened heart, and flung it out into the crowd.

“Victorious!” cried the announcer. The crowd cheered. “We have a winner!” he screamed, his voice drifting away into the blue-blooded sky.

It began raining police cars. This is when Celia woke up. The limbic impression of egg yolks faded from her groggy retinal walls as police car sirens blew by her bedroom window. She was hungry, but they had run out of eggs three days ago. The strange loco moco eating contest that she had read about in her Mother’s magazine was becoming a recurring dream. And now there was Cecily. Who was she? The girl on the cover, so fit and trim, boasting a low-carb diet of superfoods. Cecily — Celia liked that name. An offshoot of her own. An alter ego. She got up from her mattress and went to the refrigerator, noting its silence. She gripped its worn handle and pulled weakly to check inside. The electricity could have been shut off again.

This is the final story in a trio of food fiction. The first two, Sense and American Innovation, can be read at

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