Before anyone could follow, she hurried over to a particularly crowded corner of her bedroom. It wasn’t that she felt worried about what she was hiding, more that she didn’t want her secret hiding places discovered by others. Anyone could walk in and catch her; she had to move swiftly.
Had she known the aroma of food was already disguised by a pungent waft of damp, fungi on sweat-stained, rotting fabric, and last but not least, her own body odour, she probably would not have worried so much about its scent being detected. As she spritzed her Tesco value air freshener around the room, she giggled, thinking: only mice would still be able to seek out the rice. Speaking of mice, she realised she must cover the food properly this time lest they rob her of her goodies – she regularly heard them squeaking between the floorboards at night. Their house had never accommodated vermin before, she thought, it must be the arrival of the new sister in law. Yes, that was right. Her new sister in law was extremely idle, she’d arrived ill-prepared for a life with the in-laws. Her mother had taught her nothing, zilch. Never mind, she smirked to herself, she’d make sure to teach her alright.
On the landing outside, a creaking floorboard startled her and she slid the plate into a chest of drawers, planning to relocate it later.
Her habit of stockpiling miscellaneous food items had begun a few weeks after marriage. That was nearly 10 years ago. It began innocently: feeling peckish at night and being a newly wedded bride in a strange house, she worried about whom she might encounter on her way to the kitchen. It was much easier to tuck into something within arm’s length. Perhaps it also had something to do with her upbringing. It was as if even after all these years she was still living in a third world country.
Wise men were known to have pondered over the dangers of embracing guilty pleasures, because a new habit embraced does not take long to turn from convenience to necessity. And so it was with her. It hadn’t taken long for storing food to turn into something more than having a light snack at night. With each passing day, with each new arrival or guest, with the coming and going of each occasion, jealousy’s ugly paws clawed at her skin. She began to believe with a religious conviction that storing food anywhere else, or seeing someone else eating it would positively end her life.
That was, until today. As she firmly shut the chest of drawers, the creaking from the landing sounded again except it was much closer. Adjusting her self to appear nonchalant, she marched to open her bedroom door. Little did she know, as she clasped the doorknob tightly, this would be the last thing she’d ever lay hands on.
Image credit: Klaus Pichler