It’s a summer rerun. I loved this prompt back in October 2012 when I wrote this story, and I still love it today. My story…I’m not so sure about. I thought about rewriting the ending, maybe something with more punch, more drama. But after recent events, I had a change of heart. Maybe it’s okay if you have to use your imagination at the end.
The white walls caught the light, overpowering my judgment. I surrendered and receded into the alley. My bare feet cracked with the sand and grit of the pebbles, the heat almost intolerable. Barely distinguishable from the others, I knew this alley wasn’t the right one. Its walls were too high and the blue door wasn’t there before. I felt light-headed.
A few steps into the shade and I saw him, standing on the balcony watching me. Waiting for me. He knew I’d be here.
I crooked my head to see a man walking behind me. My opportunity had suddenly vanished.
I know I’ve read a great book when I’m still thinking about it months after I’ve turned the final pages. Carrie Rubin’sEating Bull is one of those books. It is a tightly crafted thriller, told from the point of view of three characters: Jeremy, an overweight, bullied teen whose favorite friend is food; Sue, the pubic health nurse on a mission to sue to food industry for their reckless manipulation of consumers; and, finally, Darwin, the mystery serial killer who is targeting the obese. It’s a mix of mystery whodunit, horror story, and public health crisis all rolled into one.
Many of the characters are suffering some past emotional trauma which is pulled into their eating habits. This backdrop makes these characters seem all the more human and vulnerable. I thought Carrie did a masterful job of telling a horrific story, alongside the complexities of food.
While eating is foremost about survival, it is so much more than that in the modern era of food convenience and choices. Food relates to our health, quality of life, eating habits, social gatherings, and family. Socio-economic factors play a role, too, and often hinder access to healthy food or enough food. Food is not an equal opportunity for all.
After reading Carrie’s book, I pondered this complex issue of food and how it related to my life. More recently, I have attempted a few clean eating challenges offered by my boot camp, because we know exercise isn’t enough and especially as we age. Sigh. On a positive note, I’ve spent most of my life not worrying about calories and meal choices and their impact on my health. Now that I’m getting older, it’s not so easy. So, I took on these clean eating challenges, which meant eating mostly real food, either from the ground or from an animal. While I’d like to be vegetarian, so far I’m not. Nothing processed, nothing out of a box, and very little sugar or salt.
In these efforts to control my eating choices, I could relate to Carrie’s characters in her book. My meal choices of lean protein and vegetables were quite similar to those of Sue. As we are made aware of her restrictive choices, it feels as if Sue, too, is noting them for herself. I also identified with Jeremy’s hunger for more, even when I wasn’t hungry. It’s emotional eating and I never felt this so strongly as I did when everything I loved was removed, especially carbs! I missed snacking. It was tough.
Jeremy’s mother Connie also has her share of challenges of feeding her family healthy options with limited time and resources, not to mention with different needs in mind. Would her son and father eat the same foods, for example? This is a constant struggle with my household and cafeteria-style planning and eating. When I did the clean eating challenge (for six weeks) it meant cooking separate meals for my family, which made it extra challenging. While there may be solutions for all these problems, it doesn’t make them any easier.
What’s more, there’s a public health scenario looming in the story: suing the food industry. I, for one, did not think this was that far-fetched. While it may never happen, I hope Carrie’s book encourages a careful look at their practices.
For example, no matter how much willpower I have, I can’t just have one stop at the Famous Amos cookie box. I just can’t!! One reach turns into three. I lost count of the number of cookies.
And then I saw this video about how America is getting hooked on processed food. You must watch this eye-opening video. Have you ever heard of “Vanishing Caloric Density”? It’s no wonder I love cheese puffs so much!
Talk about reckless manipulation of consumers. Carrie weaves all these complex issues with a serial killer on the loose. All the while, the issues don’t get lost in the story or take over, but add layers of intrigue for a compelling, entertaining read.
I finally got my act together and put together a story for Friday Fictioneers. I love this prompt, courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who also the lovely hostess of Friday Fictioneers. It also happens to be Rochelle’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Rochelle! I hope you’re enjoying yourself and relaxing. Rochelle’s book Please Say Kaddish For Me was recently published. It’s getting great reviews. Check it out!
Lana loves to put on a show. Ivy and Alex put on shows for each other. William, a student, hides behind drawn blinds. Octavia, lost in her own apartment, is on a strict pill diet. Lloyd, the overachiever, wakes before dawn with his stocks and treadmill. Sheamus, this guy never leaves his apartment, never sleeps. He’s always watching; across, below, inside. Conveniently across from his vantage point, a reflective window shines light on their misery.
It’s the perfect mix of joie de vivre and desperation. With penthouse views, Lloyd sips his brandy, watching the watched. Misery is calling his name.
For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.
Friday Fictioneers is a weekly Link-up. Writers from around the globe attempt to write a 100-word story based on a photo prompt. Today’s photo was supplied byKent Bonham.A big thank you goes out to our lovely hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.
I think this is a picture of a train station. I could be wrong, but that is my inspiration here. You may have heard of the popular novel, Girl on a Train. Well, here’s “Boy on a Train.”
Genre: Thriller (100 words)
Boy on a Train
He sat in the corner of the railcar, wearing his leather jacket and usual scruff.
When passengers cleared, Lily edged closer and settled across from him. “I know you. Was it a class? Or is it Une Petite Tasse? ” He nodded. “You know it?”
“I don’t go there.”
Except he went there yesterday and the day before; he followed her scent. Last time he checked, it was J’adore. She liked to dab it between her thighs before she left in the morning.
He stood and whispered, “Goodbye, Lily.”
She froze to the screech of steel. She’d never introduced herself.
More stories from the Fictioneers can be foundhere.