Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher who writes about various subjects, including education and creative writing.
Stephen unwrapped the burrito, doing his best to ignore the irritating and grating sound of the wax paper crinkling as he unfurled it. Possibly, the prize under the wrapper was worth the moment of agitation that paper created.
But, the gift was anything but a gift. Stephen gazed at the pasty white tortilla with the bland refried bean and shredded American cheese oozing from a tear near one end of it.
He sighed at the sight of the no frill bean and cheese concoction. His mind protested. He knew this insult of a meal wouldn’t satisfy him, taste-wise. Nevertheless, his stomach sent him hunger pangs. The stomach, not the head, spoke loudly at this moment to remind him that he needed it to satisfy his hunger.
Another deflated sigh escaped from his mouth. He slowly wrapped his hand around it, but hesitated to hoist it up, even as his stomach growled and intensified the pangs. He stared at it. The funny thing was not that he was eating something he felt no appeasement for; it was the fact that he had no choice.
His back end felt the indentation of the plastic milk crate he used as a chair
Rent robbed him of money for good and hearty meals. He barely held on, despite the long hours he put in at the local market. He stocked cans and food for a living, but, ironically, barely made enough to buy much of it. He didn’t have enough to buy the pots and pans he needed to make his own appetizing meal, either. He had enough for the local fast-food joint (their dollar menu, to be precise). And the lowest of the dollar menu – and the thing that he could afford – was the thing being gripped in his hand.
After a while, he brought the sagging, squishy excuse for a meal to his mouth. But, he hesitated and stared at it for a moment, trying to get himself excited to eat this well-wrapped mess. Even his stomach – which rumbled loudest for this moment – suddenly fell silent. Was his stomach, which acted as if it had a mind of his own, now in tuned with Stephen?
In a sense, every part of Stephen’s body was making its presence known. His back end felt the indentation of the plastic milk crate he used as a chair. His eyes felt the heaviness of fatigue brought on by his long-day-low-pay job that lasted nearly two shifts in one day. His arms and leg ached.
Most notably, his heart sank. This was not how things were supposed to be. He was going places, but the reality was that he was stuck on the low rung of society with no hope in sight, and a tasteless burrito to show for it.
The burrito, he thought. Damn this thing! I’ve become you!
“Damn This!” He hissed loudly through his clenched teeth.
He slammed the burrito onto the folding table, paper plate and the wrapper. The paper yelped as it was crushed. The burrito on the other hand opened its wound and allowed more lukewarm refried beans and partially melted cheese escape with a splutter on the paper and plate.
Rage and disappointment took over and forced hunger out of Stephen. No more was the burrito a thing to satisfy a hunger. It was a thing of resentment and a symbol of the reality that tasted too much like the failure he had become.
© 2019 Dean Traylor