“It’s embarrassing, Mom.”
“Then just sit out on the playground.”
“You can’t, Mom, you have to go to the lunch room.”
Richie is nine, and lives in a hollowed-out school bus that sits on a vacant lot hidden by trees and thick brush. He holds a beat-up Spiderman lunch box in his right hand as he walks to school, a lunch box his mother salvaged from a dumpster.
The lunchroom is crowded; Richie sits alone, embarrassed. His stomach grumbles with emptiness. He holds tight to his Spiderman lunch box, never opening the metal lid. It’s empty, but no one knows.
Paul Rousseau: Semi-retired physician and writer, published in medical journals and a smattering of literary journals, including The Healing Muse, Blood and Thunder, Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Months To Years, Cleaning up Glitter, Burningword Literary Journal, Prometheus Dreaming, Journal of the American Medical Association, Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Tendon, and others. Currently working on a collection of essays. Lives in Charleston, SC, longs to return to the west. Lover of dogs. Find him on Twitter: @ScribbledCoffee and @palliativedocto.