She arrived home after work, sat at the kitchen table and took a large chocolate bar out of her bag. She said nothing, not even hello. She split the foil, broke it apart, and proceeded to eat the entire thing, square after square; a look of almost sexual concentration on her face.
Had a bad day? he asked.
She smiled faintly.
Not like you to go for the junk. Did you miss lunch?
She shook her head. Her jaw moved, slow and bovine, working the substance against her palate. She was looking but not seeing him. There was something endogenous about the gaze, something private, as if his presence in the room was irrelevant. She ate the entire bar, methodically, piece after piece, while he put the kettle on and began dinner. He heated a pre-made lasagne in the oven, opened a bag of salad and dumped it into a bowl. She ate only a little of the meal.
I guess the snack ruined your appetite.
Her eyes flickered up from the plate.
Yes. I don’t know why I had the whole thing. Only, I’d been thinking about eating some for days. Then I had to.
She didn’t apologise for the wasted food. Usually she would; she was the type who apologized over any minor or innocuous discourtesy. He wondered if she was angry with him, whether a passive campaign was playing out, though he could think of nothing he’d done wrong.
Over the next week she began to eat chocolate regularly. She would snap off portions while watching television or between chores. In her car there were smeary wrappers strewn on the floor. She’d never had a sweet tooth before, had never ordered desert in restaurants. She’d always kept her figure because of it. Now, she seemed addicted. And not just to chocolate, but anything sugary: pastries, puddings, fizzy drinks. She would leave her steak or pasta half finished, leave the table, and come back with something glazed that she’d evidently bought in a bakery between her office and the house.
God, I just can’t seem to stop with this stuff, she said one night.
It was true. She went with a predatory look to the cupboards. She wasn’t thinking, just acting on impulse. She was drinking more too. Wine with dinner every night, a few extra glasses at the weekend; becoming gently hedonistic. They’d been for a meal at Richard’s and she’d finished a bottle of Cabernet by herself, as well as the lemon torte he’d served.
Hey, hey, Richard had said, taking her hand and helping her up from the couch, after she’d slumped on the first attempt to rise. Nice to see you letting your hair down, Evie.