Taylah was hungry. Not the I-skipped-recess kind of hungry. Not the I-was-facebooking-so-long-I-forgot-to-eat kind of hungry. Not even the I’ve-been-smoking-again kind of hungry. The kind of hungry that gnaws away at the lining of your stomach like a silent killer, patiently and relentlessly stripping your insides away.

Taylah had not eaten a proper meal in three days. She had worked out yesterday and the day before, building up a sweat at the gym. She would never be a body builder – she was too scrawny for that – but she knew it was her responsibility to keep the weight off. Her mother had always taught her to take pride in her body and she truly did.

But today Taylah was hungry.

She had already decided on the necessary course of action. Her resistance was futile. She was weak, a failure, a loser; she always gave in. Her body was weary from lack of food and her willpower exhausted.

It was time.

She went upstairs to the wardrobe in her bedroom. Kneeling, she pulled out the waiting shoebox, already salivating at the thought of its contents. She ripped off the lid and lifted out the pair of shoes and the layers of tissue paper, wrapping her hands around the block of chocolate lying on the bottom. She paused, only for a moment, taking in the colourfully decorated packaging. She tore off the top corner. Her nose caught the first wiff of chocolate.

She could wait no longer.

She didn’t even bother to break off a square. She bit straight into the block and sighed deeply as the first chunk began to melt in her mouth. She chewed slowly, relishing the softening textures and the intense sugar hit. She swallowed the creamy goodness and went in for another bite. Her stomach began to sing. Oh yeah. This was what she needed.

She chewed off another portion and sank to the floor. The hunger pains were beginning to subside. Her fingers grasped the chocolate with the reflex of a newborn, the brown stains spreading down her fingers, spreading into the corners of her mouth as she devoured her secret pleasure.

In the midst of her ecstasy, there was a faint niggle of guilt; the growing awareness of her recklessness, the remorse of throwing away all she had achieved that week. There was, too, the voice of her mother, scolding her greedy appetite, her face watching every calorie she consumed, frowning contemptuously in the wake of her crime. Taylah, with her mouth still full of molten chocolate, began to cry.

She was not aware of the presence of her mother until she heard the voice.

“After all I’ve done for you.”

Taylah started and looked up to see the sorrowful eyes bearing down on her. “How could you do this to me?” Taylah swallowed hard. Her throat squeezed tight. Her cheeks flamed with the humiliation of being caught, her own personal skeleton lying naked in her hands. Her mind was a haze, high from the sugar rush but trying to pull back to reality, like a dodgem car bouncing and jerking about.

She tried to answer her accuser. “I was. . . I was hungry. . .” She broke off. It was no use. She could never defend herself, never give a reason good enough for her lapse in willpower. She wasn’t strong enough.

Her mother sighed, a laboured expression. There was a different tone in her voice as she told Taylah to get up. As Taylah struggled to her feet, laying aside the chocolate and wiping her hands hurriedly on her shorts, her mother took Taylah’s hand. “I think it’s time,” she said.

She led Taylah to her own bedroom down the hall. She slid open the door of her wardrobe and rummaged in her underwear drawer. She withdrew a small, delicate jewellery box, hidden beneath layers of lace and cotton.

She threw a stern glance at Taylah. “No-one can know about this.” Taylah nodded mutely. Her mother opened the box, revealing a bar of chocolate. Taylah stared. It was the good stuff: top notch, luxury chocolate, not the cheap stuff she had smuggled home from the canteen. Her mother lifted it out with solemnity and handed it to Taylah.

“If you’re going to eat chocolate, make sure it’s good quality. But remember: no-one can know about this.”

The pact was sealed.


*This is a work of fiction.

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