I had been hungry ever since I was born. There was no use feeding me, it would always come back, stronger and more virulent.

I didn’t have any brain damage. It wasn’t a side effect of a medication. Nature made me that way. I suffered from an enormous appetite. I thought about different types of food every hour of my life. I got enough nutrients and my body could absorb them just fine. My blood sugar behaved in a normal fashion. I was healthy as a horse, except for this enraging quirk.

The funny thing was, I had managed to keep myself quite thin regardless. The secret was to buy everything except food while living on welfare.

I grew up on welfare. When I was old enough to buy and prepare my own meals, I spent my money on clothing and cigarettes. I picked up a nasty habit when I was eighteen. A pack a day kept the excess body fat away. My hunger was more primeval than my nicotine addiction, but that didn’t mean it was any harder to manage. In fact, I had kind of gotten used to it. So, I smoked. I smoked until I sounded like Janis Joplin. I smoked until all my nice designer clothes smelled like cigarettes. I never bought myself edible treats. I thought I didn't deserve them.

That was before I met him, though.

“Would you like some whipped cream with that?”

The coffee guy was eyeing me with a concerned look on his face.

“I don’t mean to intrude, but I can hear your stomach growl from here. Hey, why don’t you grab a sandwich while we’re at it. It’s got goat cheese in it.”

I couldn’t pretend to be vegan as my latte already had cow milk in it. I couldn’t refuse when he was being so sweet.

“Why not. I dig goat cheese.”

“I see you come here every day with your laptop,” he continued.

He loaded my order topped with the heaviest whipped cream I had ever seen. He also put not one, but two sandwiches onto a tray. “Whatever you’re doing with it, you must be very good at it. You’re always so concentrated.”

“I do nothing of value,” I sighed. “I wanted to be a writer. World came in my way.”

“It’s hard to make it as an artist of any sort. Believe me, I know. I didn’t want to be a cook, either.”

I paid for the coffee.

“I thought you were a barista or something.”

“I am. I’m also a cook, a cleaner and a general handyman.” He smiled and it looked like the smile had to climb its way from under a mountain of worries.

“Oh, wow. You still somehow have energy to worry about some ratty wannabe poet?”

“You’re my favorite customer,” he admitted. “No tricky orders. No fancy stuff.”

“I can’t afford fancy stuff,” I laughed. “Have you smelled my clothes? I thought I reeked of smoke all the way to New Zealand. I use everything I get on rags and ruining my lungs. I must smell like a homeless person.”

“I have no idea how you smell. I smoke, like, a pack daily.”

I got an idea. I dug up my cigarettes and handed one to him. “Come take a break with me. You don’t seem to be getting too many customers today, anyway.”

“Well, why not,” he agreed and snatched the cancer stick from my hand.

Thus was born a beautiful friendship.

I would visit him daily and get some nourishment for free. His sandwiches were exquisite. I loved the ones with sun-dried tomato and fresh lettuce. The mayonnaise-based condiment was delicious.

We would talk about our lives. He had two cats and his own home. I had three succulents and a somewhat good social media presence.

I even shared with him the details of my strange condition, of the needs that I couldn't meet.

“That’s a terrible curse, but it may be a gift in a sense, as well,” he said, frowning.

“What makes you say so?”

“I’ve never met anyone with a deeper appreciation for food. You don’t, like, overdose on it, but you know how to eat.”

“Well, thanks,” I smiled.

“Come visit me and my kitties one day. I could cook a whole full-course meal for you.”

“Do you mean it?”

“I mean it. Here at work my hands are more or less tied. I want to show off my creativity.”

“I have nowhere else to be. I’m a NEET, remember?”

“What’s that supposed to mean again?”

I explained that it was about not being in education, employment or training and it made him look a little bit sad.

“It’s got such a pejorative edge, that abbreviation. You’ll find your way into college in a year or two. You shouldn’t label yourself with negative things.”

“It’s a deal, then, is it? I bring my anomalous self and you cook.”

The meal he had prepared for us was nothing short of spectacular. I wouldn’t have expected anything less from him. Prosciutto crudo around breadsticks for starters. It only got better from there. We had a glorious yet comforting pasta dish for the main course, with red wine, of course.

As we ate, I noticed something strange. A tightening around my stomach. Was this what people called being full?

I told this to him.

He smiled the widest and most genuine smile I had ever seen on his face. He was so often looking worried. I sometimes forgot he experienced positive states of mind at all.

“Could it be that I’m cured?” I asked. “Could there be some sort of a magic in this food?”

We had homemade gelato for dessert. I didn’t have any room for seconds. Finally, I was full! To experience this blissful state everyone else took for granted! I thanked him with tears in my eyes.

He hugged me with such force that I feared throwing up all that precious nourishment.

It was not, in fact, final, as I soon discovered. The hunger returned the morning after. I decided to splurge on some cupcakes. I thought everything was back to normal and I would never again get to feel full.

To my great astonishment, the cupcakes brought back a small part of that immense relief.

I called him.

“In case you’re still hungry, I could introduce you to the joys of normal breakfasts as well.”

I came over with the speed of a falcon.

Bacon, beans, eggs. I had discovered a new world that I’d been afraid to dip my toes in.

I was in heaven.

Our friendship blossomed, as well. Soon enough his two cats thought of me as their mother.

We talked a lot about what would cause me to lose and gain the most primal ability there was. There were no logical conclusions. We didn't believe in miracles, either. The fear of the hunger coming back was always nagging at me.

I thought he was thinking similar things. I thought he didn’t know.

One day he sat me down with a cup of hot chocolate.

“Darling, there’s something you need to know.”

“Please tell me you’re not giving up cooking.”

I tried cracking jokes whenever I was nervous. It never worked.

“I may have found the thing that makes your body accept food as it should be.”

“What is it? Not some magic?”

“Yes and no,” he dodged the question. “Your mother cooked for you when you were little, right?”

“That was about the only thing she got right,” I growled. I didn’t like to talk about my distant and cold parents at all.

“You’ve never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Not even a roommate? Grandmother? Someone who took good care of you and made you food?”

“I’m not on speaking terms with my grandparents. I’ve also been single all my life.”

“I may know what the secret ingredient is,” he said, still with that air of mystery.

“Tell me.”

“If you’re thick enough to not realize, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Then he laughed.

It had to be love, right?

I squeezed my cup of hot chocolate hard to prevent tearing up. It had to be love.

May 30, 2020 17:56

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Tvisha Yerra
15:16 Jun 10, 2020

Interesting concept!


Iku Saari
18:03 Jun 10, 2020

Thank you! The thought crossed my mind when I was really craving a sandwich, so I just ran with it and this came out.


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Verda H
06:44 Jun 07, 2020

Is this your first submission? It's wonderful. Good job!


Iku Saari
07:13 Jun 07, 2020

Thank you, glad you like it! Yes, it's my very first time participating. :)


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Show 1 reply
22:36 Jun 06, 2020

This is such a sweet story :)


Iku Saari
07:13 Jun 07, 2020

Thank you! I had so much fun writing it. :)


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