In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

You Want Fruit?

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“You want fruit? I’ve got all kinds of fruit. I’ve got apples, pears, watermelon, grapes and bananas.”

It’s the same every day. R and I smirk at each other and silently mouth the words as they are spoken with our eyes rolled up. 

R says quietly to me, “It will be his epitaph.”

The old man talks banana, fish, ice cream, Snickers bars, BK hamburgers, pizza and spaghetti and meatballs, the gustatory language of care: communing in eating words.

On any given day, each member of the family undergoes the same interrogation upon first notice or first entering the house:

“You hungry? I’ll get you something to eat. What do you want?

“No thanks, I just ate.”

“No, really, it’s no problem. It won’t take me long. I can go right now. What do you want?”

“No thanks, I just ate.”

“Are you sure? You’ll be hungry later. You want me to get you something for later?”

“No thanks.”

“You’re going to be hungry later, you know.”

“No thanks.”

Like a song on repeat, he echoes an unstoppable refrain, worse than an ear worm. The first words of the litany dull my brain and my mood instantly. Even if I am hungry, I reactively reject the offer out of sheer negation, the will to make it stop, and discourage the behavior.

But I breathe, blink and behave: he only knows this way. He means well, and even if he doesn’t, he just does this, utters these syllables like a tic, an eye twitch or knee jerk when the rubber mallet hits the reflexive sweet spot. 

Because we will laugh at his eulogy reciting a thousand and one inanities, even as we cry the quiet of the house into our eyes, awaiting the ticking off the names of fallen fruit.

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