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© 2017 by Lisa Mihalich Quinn | Reach Every Voice | Maryland

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To Eat or Eat? - A Short Sci-Fi Novella

February 15, 2018

 

Earlier this year, Nadia shared her butterfly anthology with you all. Since then, she's been learning about plot structures and creating believable characters and using dialogue all in the frame of a story that asks readers to stretch their minds to include some sci-fi elements. Nadia asked to share her latest work, one that has been weeks in the writing. Here is Nadia's multi-chapter work, "To Eat or Eat?"

 

-1 -

 

The doctor turned to face the two men.

“I’m not sure how to tell you this,” she stammered. ”there’s something you need to know about your daughter.” She paused. “She has two stomachs.”

The men gasped. Sobbing, they embraced. 

 

-2-

 

“Alex!” He called. “Breakfast! Now!” He was going to be late. Where was she? He set down the stack of pancakes he was carrying next to the bowl of oatmeal. Pretty soon Alex would utterly devour all of it and plead for more. They could never seem to fill her bottomless second stomach. He looked at his watch. “Alex!” He shouted. “Coming, Dad!” 

 

-3-

 

Certainly grown men have to find jobs. Especially fathers of girls with two stomachs. Riffling through his drawer, he grabbed the bright yellow vest and zipped it up. Other grown men asked how he could stand there keeping buses and cars from colliding, but he loved it. Caught in the hubbub of school traffic, he forgot his own family drama and focused on getting folks to school. Alex stuck her head in the door. “Nice vest, Pop,” she laughed. “Better get a move on. Dad’s all fired up.” 

 

-4-

 

Alex thundered down the stairs. She smelled pancakes and ... oatmeal? Alex’s stomachs growled. Safe to say other kids would be stuffed after that breakfast, but she knew that even after all that food she would feel as hungry as she was now. Sighing, she sat down to eat. 

 

-5-

 

It was after nine when ken walked through the front door of his office at Farming for All. His desk already had a pile of manuals to edit. He grabbed the one on top, The Art of Lawn Mowing. He looked at his watch. 9:20. Alex would just be getting to school. She was probably hungry already. Ken glanced at The Art of Lawn Mowing and then back at his watch. It was going to be a long day. 

 

-6- 

 

Barry waved the last bus through the intersection and unzipped his vest. Telling himself how lucky he was to go to his dream job each day, he glanced at his watch. It was 9:30. There were five hours until dismissal and dinner wouldn’t cook itself. He tossed his keys into the air, caught them, and whistling walked toward home.

 

-7-

 

 

Alex simply could not wait another second. Her stomachs sounded like really distant thunder. She glanced around the room to make sure no one saw and shoved a small bit of last night’s homework in her mouth. She pinched off another piece and popped it in. Alex felt the pangs of hunger subside. The ringing recess bell brought her attention back to the teacher. 10:30. What would she do until lunch? 

 

-8-

 

NyQuil has nothing on the art of lawn mowing, Ken thought. Probably the dullest text ever written. There was a limit to how much he could tolerate. On the hard to sleep nights when his fears about how to afford food for his double stomached daughter were keeping him awake, this would be what he needed. Right now though what he needed was a shot of espresso. His second job didn’t even start until after five. Ken checked the time. 11:37. Not even noon. He let his head fall onto his desk. 

 

-9-

 

Barry put the lid on the crockpot and turned his attention to dessert. A pie? Cake? Maybe brownies? Yes, brownies. Both Alex and Ken liked brownies. Maybe this time the insatiable hunger his daughter always argued with would finally be appeased. Barry stowed his anxiety away lest any of it get stirred into the brownie batter.

 

-10-

 

The bell rang and kids ran to line up. Alex held back, not wanting to be seen chewing on the wrapper of the Snickers she had snuck in her pocket. It felt strangely satisfying. Is this how it felt to be full? Swallowing the rest of the wrapper, Alex ran to join her class. 

 

-11-

 

Ken put on his jacket and walked out the door. He usually watched his afternoon pass by in his cubicle. Today he couldn’t get himself to focus. Something felt off. He’d tried to ignore it and work on that dumb lawn mowing manual, but he couldn’t push past the nagging feeling that something was wrong.so he left behind his cubicle to go see his family. 

 

-12-

 

Just as the bell rang, the usual throng of kids raced out of the school. Barry looked for Alex. She was generally one of the first kids out the door. She was always hungry and Barry came prepared with snacks. Surprisingly she wasn’t in the place he usually found her. After the last kid crossed he went in search of her in the school. 

 

-13-

 

“I’m not sick!” Alex yelled. At that moment, Pop burst in the door of her classroom. Sitting on the table in front of the teacher was Alex’s partially eaten homework. “Pop I’m not sick. My stomachs are full today. I think it’s the trash that did it.” Pop stared with wide eyes. He flipped open his phone and called.

 

-14-

 

The doctor turned to face the two men and their daughter. “She’s right. The trash is easily digested in her second stomach. A few scraps a day should do it.” The little family embraced. 

 

Nadia asks the world to presume competence of all nonspeaking autistics and to use respectful language when you talk about people who type instead of speak.