Dreaming on an empty stomach

Graphic by Joseph Valdez

Tonight, my family lives on the streets. We crouch on the bend of a dirty road, never looking up or around our perch. The corner of the street is crowded with other bums like us, including a girl whose face I don’t recognize but whom I know is my friend. One day, without explanation, there are huge bowls of fatty pig in front of us. Right on that street corner, we break up the flesh with our hands and pass it around, gorging and laughing on the dirty sidewalk as people saunter past. My friend doesn’t eat much, just stares off with wide eyes, face pale and gaunt. I ask her what’s wrong, and she looks past me with an empty gaze.


“I’m jealous,” she says. I turn to look over my shoulder. She’s been staring at the pretty young couple all along, the one that glided by arm-in-arm minutes ago. The man is dressed in soldier’s garb and the woman twirls in her skirt. They enter a large gray marble building, faces obscured the whole time. I turn back to my friend, taking another bite out of the pork, and ask why she’s jealous. I tell her that she could just as easily have the same thing — so what if all we’ve ever done is sit dirty and cross legged on the streets? She just look at me with those wide eyes and says it’s because she’s hungry. She holds her stare, and I fall silent. Minutes later amidst the feasting, I’m still eating fatty pork bone with my bare glistening hands, but beside me she sits still, hands cold and dry.


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