She yearned for something sweet. She toasted Pop Tarts, the hot sugar cooled like Elmer’s Glue to her finger tips and tongue. She spooned gold honey into Earl Grey, threads of nectar stringing between jar and cup where it pooled in the dregs and she tipped her head back to receive the thick liquid on her tongue. She boiled Honey Crisp apples and brown sugar and cinnamon into a hot mash, dropped a scoop of Breyers, flecked with vanilla bean, into the center of the lava, dredging her finger along the smooth contour of the bowl so as not to miss a drop.

She became harder to please. She bought crinkly cellophane cookie trays from Nabisco and popped buttery circles into her mouth, one after another, her teeth crushing grains of granulated sugar, her tongue peeping out into the corners of her lips to catch spare crumbs. She thawed whole Sara Lee cakes layered with oily buttercream and dry sponge, carved her fork through the lacquered frosting, pressed the tines against the exposed cardboard disc below the cake to scrape up the tacky remains. She counted the number of licks it took to get to the center of Tootsie Pops; she cut thin seams into her tongue as she dragged it along the rough edges of a Blow Pop just before driving her molars through the candied shell and into the soft center that she dragged off the stick with her front teeth; she chewed handfuls of multi-hewed Jelly Belly beans, the jumble of peculiar flavors mixed with her saliva into a sweet, indistinct morass.

Soon she was never satisfied. She filled her pockets with brown packets of raw sugar, shooting the crystals down at stoplights. She stirred Jello, the pink-tinted powder into boiled water and drank it down like water, a sticky film filling her mouth and throat. She emptied boxes of Captain Crunch and Lucky Charms and Cookie Crisp into a red and white bowl labeled “Popcorn” and ladled handfuls into her mouth until her cheeks bulged as she struggle to chew, a mouthful of stones, and her tastebuds stung, enraged. She ordered flats of Dunkin Donuts, a dozen of each kind, telling the bakery to bill the local high school PTA (“for the chess club fundraiser”), and crawled into the back cargo area of her SUV with the carton, and eventually succeeded in folding a greasy-doughed Boston Cream into her mouth, whole.

With each jolt of glucose, her fingers and toes twitched and tingled, her center thrummed with artificial electricity, but she also remembered, in the ripples and echoes of sensation, that time when she had been loved. She remembered when he had tenderly taken her head in his hands, the flat of his palms supporting the weight of her skull, taking the burden of all her heaving thoughts onto the thick bones of his fingers, and her body had been flooded with an elemental relief, like fire and water both, nothing simulated, just sweet.

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