Jelly

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She was eating jelly because all of her teeth were broken, because Aunty Dora had broken them, because she couldn’t eat anything that wasn’t soft, even though she had hated to eat the jelly, that gelatinous mass of clumps she hadn’t been able to break down properly (hadn’t been able to boil water, only had cold water), those tiny granulated bits of animal fat or whatever jelly was, hospital food that’s what it was, food fit for children and invalids, lurid clownish brain-like wobbles you needed a spoon for (who had spoons? Who had cutlery?) or could just suck up, purse your lips and hoover slipperily down, green and red and purple and orange (hers was orange, a crumpled box of Aeroplane Jelly from the 2000s, a box Aunty Dora had in fact given her, given her why she could not now remember as her gums bled into and into the jelly, and out onto and onto the table where her teeth lied about like the white keys/black keys – rotten rotten teeth – of an emptied out piano), orange like the old sun, the sun before the fires, the sun whose bearable warmth she could barely recall, hot now it was like iron sheeting pressed against the skin, burning day and night, the air red as blood and filled with vengeance, the jelly sliding down just barely (she was back to the jelly, hoovering up the orangeness), sliding uneasily down and down into her stomach, her fat pregnanted belly, down and down into her unfull bowel, down and down into memory where she was five, eight, ten, spooning great globs of the stuff – red and green as well as orange! – down and down still further, her teeth intact and bared to the world with a child’s joy, a joy no longer possible, a joy before the always red sun, and she felt her teeth again, felt them again, and toast and cheddar cheese and fruit, hard and acid, grinding down under molars and canines and incisors, slicing and crushing and sluicing through her brain, before that man, before Aunty Dora, before, before, before.

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