Hungry Hearts by unknow

Hungry Hearts by unknow

Author:unknow
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Simon Pulse


* * *

A few days pass by and suddenly, it’s Saturday. I wake up in the morning choking on anxiety, a familiar sourness in my gut, and at any moment, I just may throw up. I’m hoping it happens before tonight—before the food competition.

Grandma drives me to the place where the competition is being hosted at the Rowbury Community Center, and I can see lines of people filing into the red-brick building once we pull in. I don’t know if this is all my competition or also people who will be watching me, but my anxiety is starting to act up. My chest feels tight; I can’t really breathe right.

I rush into my backpack and pull out my headphones. I put them on and play the first song on my playlist. There’s something about the bass in this Drake song that calms me, makes me feel like I’m not drowning anymore. I can squeeze my eyes shut and work on my breathing.

In.

Out.

Slower.

In.

Out.

Grandma probably has no clue what’s going on with me, and she doesn’t ask, so maybe that’s a good thing so I don’t get distracted. If she were to ask, it would be all I could think about.

Finally we arrive at the community center. Eagerly, I rush in and a gasp slips out of me from how much this is exactly what I pictured it would be. I look back, and Grandma’s waving me to come back to her.

She hands me a clipboard for signing in and then escorts me to my cooking station before wishing me luck. When I get to my little station, I scan the room again and see all of my competition, a lump burning up in my gut. My throat is dry like I’ve eaten an entire thing of salt, and my chest is tight, and these are some of the signs of one of my panic attacks.

The five judges take turns counting down, each saying one number, before they start the timer overhead.

Five.

Four.

Three.

Two.

One.

Everyone darts and zooms. Pots clinking and pans smacking. Stoves sizzling and butter caramelizing, funneling in the air like a sweet fog. The world spins faster around me. My chest feels so damn heavy. I pull out my bottle of tiny round saviors that continue to help me over and over again in times of need like this moment right now where I feel like there are a zillion fire ants in my gut and a shit-ton of grenades going off in my stomach and head, bringing on a panic attack.

I squeeze my eyes shut for a moment.

I put on my headphones so I can stop feeling like at any second I’ll burst into flames. I’m going through my “mellow out” playlist, keeping the volume down low enough so I can hear the judges and the timer.

The timer above the cooking stations is blinking at me in huge red numbers how much time I’ve got left. It’s such a sad and depressing reminder of the amount of time Momma probably has left to live.



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