Fiction · 01/02/2019

A Woman of Appetites

She was always hungry, so when Adeline ate her beautiful baby boy, no one was surprised. Not her husband or the friends who commented relentlessly on her appetite. “Look how she eats!” “Where does it go?” They exclaimed with delight and horror. “Her legs, they must be hollow!”

“You’re insatiable!” Her husband often claimed, sprawled naked across wrinkled sheets. “You just can’t get enough, can you?” He smiled proudly with such statements. And it was true, she couldn’t get enough of anything. She was hungry, it couldn’t be helped.

When the baby came Adeline knew she was in trouble. The tiny boy was utterly delectable. His fat, juicy cheeks, the velvety soft soles of his feet, the whispery tickle of his eyelashes against her breasts when he nursed. She kissed his small belly, his dimpled knees and elbows, his fuzzy scalp, his peachy bum, his tiny curled toes. She would have kissed his eyeballs if it were easier.

The husband enjoyed these displays of motherly love, especially since they did nothing to dampen her appetite for him. If anything, his wife’s appetites had grown since giving birth. In the middle of the night, just hours after they’d fucked, she climbed on top of him demanding more, and yet more upon waking. He joked that he’d have to outsource to meet her demands. When Adeline laughed and said she could supplement as needed, the husband became just the slightest bit anxious. When he came home to find her astride their neighbor, Sid, he was more relieved than angry though. It’s true what they say, he thought as he watched her bucking against his friend, it takes a village.

Between kissing her baby and fucking her husband and the occasional neighbor, Adeline ate and Adeline read: Heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar as she devoured a fat tome on geography and the rise of first world countries; towering sandwiches that toppled over when she set them down to turn the pages of Anna Karenina; steak that she ate straight from the pan, without cutting, just a rare hunk speared by her fork, the easier to eat while reading Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes.

So, it really came as no surprise to anyone that Adeline woke up one morning and ate her baby. She began as she always did every morning, swinging her little munchkin up from his crib to the changing table and cooing to him as she changed his diaper. Then Adeline kissed him from the soles of his feet to his wispy crown of hair, not realizing until he was gone that she’d actually gobbled him whole.

“But how could you eat the baby?” Cried her husband, though he’d known it was bound to happen. “You weren’t supposed to do that!”

“But of course I know that,” she shouted. “I was just so hungry. It couldn’t be helped.” And with that she turned on her heel, grabbed a jar of peanut butter from the pantry, and settled onto the couch with a tattered copy of Bad Behavior. “How could you?” he continued to cry. The woman paused and shook her peanut butter covered finger at him. “Let it go, or I’ll eat you, too.” When the husband next brought up the baby, Adeline swallowed her husband in one gulp. Silence at last, she thought, and drove to the library to check out more books.

When the neighbors realized what had happened, that she’d eaten not just her baby but her husband, too, they whispered “How could she?” and “What kind of woman does that to her family?” “I know she’s got a big appetite” they exclaimed, “but how much does she need?” Since Sid, Betsy, Michael, Anastasia, Eduardo, and a few others were benefiting from Adeline’s sexual appetite, these whispers never grew to the roar they might have. Plus, they knew what happened to Jackson and Sally, Adeline’s nosy neighbors, who liked to peek at her over the backyard fence and who hadn’t refrained from openly judging her. Adeline ate them, one right after the other, with barely a pause after swallowing Jackson, who many considered to be morbidly obese.

In addition to devouring food, books, and the occasional neighbor or two, Adeline had taken to riding her bike for hours at a time. She like to load up a backpack with cheese, baguettes, jars of cornichons and olives, and cycle out far enough to where the roads turned to gravel and she could count fence posts and hear the birds. When the she was tired she stopped on the side of the road and ate everything in her pack. Sometimes she read a book. More often than not she moved off the road into the field and fell asleep. And this is how Adeline came to wake up one day to a man hovering above her with a wolfish smile that opened to say: “You know you could run into trouble out here alone, lady.”

“And?” Adeline replied. His jeans were horribly tight and with his legs spread above her she marveled that the denim didn’t split at the seam. “And?” he repeated. She noticed an unsightly vein pulsing in his forehead. “Well, who knows what could happen? Someone could hurt you.”

“Hurt me how?” Adeline sat up and gently pushed on the man’s legs until he backed up and gave her some room. When he grabbed her wrist, she opened her mouth so wide that her jaw popped, momentarily surprising the man before she polished him off. She lay back on the grass, caressing her full belly. Her neighbors thought her a gluttonous monster, an insatiable demon-lover. She laughed to herself. At them. Who were they to judge her? Who’s to say her appetites weren’t bountiful rather than gluttonous?

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Yasmina Din Madden lives in Iowa and her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in PANK, The Idaho Review, Word Riot, The Masters Review: New Voices, Hobart, Fiction Southeast, Carve, and other journals. Her story “At the Dog Park” was shortlisted for The Masters Review Anthology: 10 Best Stories by Emerging Authors, and her flash fiction was shortlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions of 2017 and Pulp Literature’s Hummingbird Prize for Flash Fiction. She teaches creative writing, literature, and women’s and gender studies at Drake University.