People are born with physical anomalies every day. We’re talking folks with too many or too few limbs, siblings connected to each other in awkward ways and, unless comic books have misled me all these years, humans with the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes and control the weather.
I’m no biologist, so I can’t speak to the science behind it, but somehow my wife and I have produced a child with a black hole where her stomach should be. At her center, sandwiched roughly between the liver and the transverse colon, is a vast chasm in time and space, a void into which anything dropped vanishes from this plane of existence.
Now, I know what you’re saying:
“But Adam, that ain’t possible. If a black hole were actually to form inside your child’s tiny body, she would simply implode, likely dragging you and your wife and those cats you’re always writing about and every other object, whether physical or otherwise, into an endless void. It would be impossible to complain about it because by the time you realized your problem, you’d have ceased to exist. Get back with me when you’re ready to talk about something real, like secret cabals of lizard people or alien architects.”
And you’d probably be right (well, not about the lizard people … that’s nonsense; I’m still on the fence about alien architects), but I’ve got the best kind of evidence … anecdotal. So hang your know-it-all hat on the rack and hear me out.
Nearly every morning, I awaken in the pre-dawn twilight to the sight of my four-year-old daughter standing inches from my face, having drowsily stumbled into our bedroom after a fitful night’s sleep combating her insatiable desire to consume every morsel of food in our house.
And it’s then she’ll utter those words …
Sure, they may seem unassuming. After all, there are only two of them. Just three little syllables. Doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
But know this, certain words and specific phrases – uttered often enough in the right tones by distinct individuals – have the power to reshape reality. They can inspire or destroy, bring hope or incite violence. They can drive a person insane.
Guess which one of those options “I’m hungry” does to me.
So I’ll stumble out of bed and totter clumsily to the kitchen to prepare the first of my progeny’s many, many meals – buttered toast or scrambled eggs, cereal sans milk or cereal with milk, spoonfuls of peanut butter or, if the fog of sleep is still too thick for me to reject her less palatable suggestions, a mayonnaise sandwich. That would be two pieces of bread with a layer of mayo between them. Lovecraftian, right? The mind reels at the thought. The stomach too.
And lest you think, having eaten, my tiny four-year-old’s hunger would be satiated, no sooner than the final edible tidbit has crossed the threshold of her lips does she begin her ritualistic chant:
So, I’ll fix her a second meal. Seconds later, it’s gone.
“I’m hungry,” she says, cracker crumbs falling from her lips.
And a third meal. I barely have time to return to my seat before it’s disappeared.
“I’m hungry,” she says, the last drops of sugary cereal-milk slipping down her gullet.
A fourth meal it is. I place a bowl, heaped with delicacies, before her. I blink, and it’s empty.
“I’m hungry,” she says, cheese cracker mush between her teeth.
And on it goes, a cycle that will only end when the day itself does and the unappeased echoes from her bottomless stomach are finally overtaken by the siren song of Lady Slumber.
It doesn’t matter how much food she eats, or the substance of her meals. All day, every day, she hungers, her stomach a void into which all sustenance simply ceases to exist. I don’t know how my wife and I did it, but we created a tiny human who can never truly be full. No matter how much she takes, no matter how much she’s given, she always wants more.
Huh. You know, maybe she’s not so anomalous after all.