Only The Truly Mad Don't Know They're Mad

Flooding House - Book IV, Ch 4 - Only the Truly Mad Don't Know They're Mad (Part I) 

     Food!  There was food!
     I could smell it, could almost taste the rich meat on my tongue.  Oh, how the fats would melt like butter! 
     I set my glass of water back on the night stand.  How it had become filled in the middle of the night I did not know.  Nor was I, who’d gone the day before without a single drop, going to look past this timely gift. 
     Oh, but the succulent scent of food! 
     I threw back the covers, climbed from the bed and looked around the shabby shack.  Where was Cole?  Where was Adonin?  Why would they hide the delicacies I could smell? 
     “C’mon guys, quit playing.”  My words sounded thin and weak in the morning air.  Not seeing the two husbands within, I decided they must be outside.
     I stubbed my toe on the leg to the bed.  “Awww – shit!  Cole!”  I was pissed now.  Pissed and in pain.  I stumbled to the door, pushed it open and held onto the frame while the pain finished flaring from the poor damaged digit. 
     Adonin’s car was not parked on the side of the road.  Nobody stood around the ice-filled casket. 
     From a distance came voices.  Dim voices.  One called, “Miranda, breakfast is on.”  I didn’t recognize the voice.  But I was hungry.  And my stomach, which had so far been silent, made its presence known.  Still, some thought of self preservation had me lifting the shovel from where it leaned against the weathered side of the shack.
     “Miranda, food!” 
Miranda #2, Flooding House Series #2. Medium: Watercolor Pencil, Ink on Watercolor PaperS. Ford   Copyright 2013

     This time the voice was louder, and from just around the corner of the building.  I looked to the corner, expecting the owner to appear any second now.  He did not.  In fact, the voices faded.  I stood, waiting.  I stood until the wind shifted and the scent of freshly seared meat and vegetables wafted up my nose.
     I inched forwards, peered around the corner, and saw no one.  Nobody.  I knew that voice.  I just didn’t remember from where.  It would come to me.  But that could wait.  I needed food, and I needed it now.  I didn’t much like that these men were playing such games on me.  No doubt they knew I was female.
      I looked down at myself.  The female parts were hard to miss.  Boobs, hips, ass gave away my gender.  If Cole were around at a certain time of the month my peeved temper only added to the certainty of being female. 
     A new breeze and I finally caught wind of what the meal was: pot roast.  I stumbled forwards, my arms feeling unwieldy and long.  The shovel dragged in the dirt as I could hardly lift it now.  It left a stuttered line behind. 
     “Cole?  Adonin?”  My attention swung from the ground to the trees to the shack.  Was that a shadow over there?  Was someone hiding behind those bushes?  I shook my head and continued to follow the delightful scent of a hot breakfast.  “Cole?  Adonin?  Quit playing around.  I’m hungry.”
     Into my ear Adonin said, “It’s over there, wife.” 
     I jerked around, looking for him.  He wasn’t there, hadn’t spoken into my ear.  Or maybe he had and I was simply too hungry to see him leave.  That meant he went to get the food!  I turned back to where I’d been looking.  For a moment I was confused again.  The landscape wavered, as did the certainty that there was food.  Then it snapped back into focus – I snapped back into focus.
     I could see the cooling unit now, could see how it was settled on the ground and how the food within was kept cold.  The one time father had taken me camping he’d shown me how to chill a drink by sinking it into the river.  He’d also spoken of buying food – especially meat – in the ground to keep it from going bad.  A rare pang of homesickness swallowed my heart.  I vowed to ignore it and started forwards again. 
     I stopped at the small pile of wood.  Cole or Adonin had gathered it together.  The logs were packed with dried moss.  I remembered then that Cole had pulled it off the roof of the shack.  He’d said it was good for two things.  The first was starting a fire.  The second he refused to name, but insisted the dried moss would be safe enough to burn in the fire outside.  He said it would keep the flies away. 
     They’d left a lighter nearby.       I turned back to the meat, unashamed of how my mouth watered at the glint of edge of the crock peeking through the cooling dirt.  On my hands and knees I pushed the dirt away, dug at it, unearthed the crock.  Only it wasn’t a crock.  It was a bottle.  It was a bottle of beer.
     The world rippled, then righted itself.  I was hungry, not thirsty.  But maybe later . . . I set the bottle aside.  There was no reason, I thought, that the crock wasn’t here.  I could smell the meat, damnit.  I was hungry! 
     The sun burnt down onto my back.  It heated my scalp and made the roots itch.  I dug, I pushed, I shoved at the dirt. There was meat here.  I knew it.  Just as I knew Cole and Adonin were playing tricks on me, were the source of the laughter drifting on the air from the bushes. When my back was tired, when my hands ached and I’d bent yet another nail back I reached for the shovel.
     Another half hour and the sun was setting.  No, that wasn’t right.  I looked up.  It wasn’t that the sun was setting.  It was that I was in shadow.  Somehow, when I wasn’t paying attention, someone had piled up the dirt around me.  Mounds of dirt.  It looked a lot like when we buried bodies in the makeshift cemetery out back behind the shack.
     Maybe this was Cole and Adonin’s game.  To tempt me with food into a grave so that I may understand what only someone from their family could: what it felt like to be standing with one foot on death’s door.  “Well, lesson learned.”  I said.
     And no more had I spoken than the smell of meat doubled, tripled.  Drove me insane so that my stomach . . . my stomach stopped growling.  Some other part, dim part, of my mind said a quiet, ‘Uh-oh’.  Not being hungry was no good.  But the rest of me rejoiced.  Only a few more feet down to go and there was food!
     A shift of the air brought laughter to my nearly unearthed cache.  The shadows moved.  I thought at first it was that of an animal, a small dog or fox or coyote.  They sorted themselves out and it was a man, a shadow of a man that colored the side of the dark, cool earth.  I looked up.  I had to shield my eyes.
   Burton watched me, his gaze coming down the long sides of his nose.  The air around him smoked.  The sunlight kissed his bare shoulders and lit upon the scraped bare patches on his knees.  He had a burn across his stomach. 
     The anger I held towards him did not surface.  He was above me, on the ground, his knees spread wide.  I, below him, could not miss the phallic-ness of the position.  When he lifted his hand it was slowly, and as if a great challenge were being made.  In his hand rested an apple.  A ruby red apple with golden speckles across the skin.  He held the apple, and he sat with his knees open as such.  I was hungry.  Starving.  On the brink of death.
     Burton knew this.
     I saw the mounds of dirt again.  I saw the shovel in my hands - the handle so rough it needed sanding.  I saw how I was in his eyes: naked and digging in the mud.  So hungry I'd eat whatever Adonin and Cole had buried in the dirt.  Or whomever.
     That anger I'd searched for roared back now.  At once the sun was too bright, the ground too hard, the fine coat of dirt on my skin too gritty.  And I was awake.  I was aware of the shovel in my hands, of the coarse handle, and that I now had splinters.  The small stinging splinter pains grounded me in reality. 
     How dare they do this?!  How dare they send Burton and not food!  How dare they lock me onto the lands as if. . . as if . . . as if I somehow belonged to it.  As if I somehow belonged to them.
     A snarl rose in my chest, the sound so animal that it startled me.  It startled Burton.  He jerked back, his knees at once closing protectively on either side of his extended maleness.  He fell back, scrambled back.  The apple hit the ground and went rolling.  For a moment it seemed as if the fruit chased away Burton
     I wanted that food! 
     I launched from the earthy pit, caught on the side and teetered there for a moment.  I couldn't shake from my head to chase the food.  Burton turned onto his belly, lifted his arse and was in mid-bunching to launch when the apple touched his bare foot.  Burton gave a single, sharp 'YIP!' and took off.  He ran into the bramble bushes.  The branches cracked as he flayed through the lot. 
     Then silence.  Not even the afternoon bugs let loose a sound.  It was just me and the apple.   

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