Sonia (novelette continues)

Marshmallow candy

Rhaya never forgot anything of what came after that particular morning, but it was clearly part of the past. Something she had gone through and seen to the very end. But now with her niece Sonia emotions stirred. A shake of the old vinaigrette which had been sitting in her mental fridge for ages. The contents still there, unchanged, but for a while the particles whirled in chaos before settling.

 Sunny radiant Sonia had ash blonde hair, grayish eyes, wholesome fair skin, cheeks as pink marshmallows. The child could charm anyone in minutes. Sonia was used to being entertained or made busy at all times, since a baby. She’d be a pest when bored. Her energy was naturally splendid, but her habit of eating constantly was showing in her eleven year old body. It was ballooning and picking up speed.

The girl ate any moment she felt bored or anxious. Void moments without action were her enemies and getting her way was more than sport, it was an art. To her middle-aged aunt it was evident her body type tended to accumulate more upward than down, and that didn’t help her case. Sonia’s face was overfilling. She also developed a muffin top over her favorite skinny jeans.

She usually charmed her way into everybody’s heart, obtaining any food item she craved, and that was limited to the sugary and fried food groups. Cookies calmed her, soda made her congenial, for a while at least. It was a pleasure watching her go from irritable and inscrutable to silly and clownish. Even I enjoyed her transformations. No one took it too seriously those years. This was the average upbringing of children.

But Rhaya’s concern was with what tomorrow would bring for her niece, the future, that uncertain place where novelty and change can surprise us or, on the contrary, patterns and repetition could make us stale, hardened.

She worried Sonia might need help. ¿How could she possibly take control of her sweet addiction? Would Sonia one day feel herself overweight and unacceptable? Even worse, ¿Would Loud Thoughts invade Sonia’s life the same way they did hers? She feared the child might get tagged as chemically imbalanced, bipolar or depressed.

Her parents were conservative, faithful believers in mainstream, accepted scientific facts. They went to a specialist for any kind of life disruption when it became a problem. They believed in explainable science. Rhaya wasn’t sure science and medicine, as they stood back then, could solve issues such as the one’s intersecting in Sonias horizon.

Her niece knew nothing about firm rules, even less so regarding venturing into the kitchen outside of meal hours. Grabbing stuff between meals was entirely normal. No one had ever told her there was to be no poking around the pantry after lunch. ¿What would happen with her niece?

Rhaya had in fact learned such things much later in life. The value of certain rules and limits regarding eating schedules, that folks from a not too distant past regarded as highly civilized. She didn’t ask to learn this but did nonetheless while mothering her own children.

Considerations about food as nourishment came to her attention as she experienced the age of wild economic chance and extreme capitalism. Making sure there was enough at home was important. Meals prepared should feed the five of her nuclear family, for at least a couple of days. Rhaya discovered the value of waiting until the appropriate time to eat, even if she hadn’t been raised that way.

Now, in the age of excess, such notions seemed almost archaic, so she seldom discussed them with anyone. Rhaya just watched her niece, unable to decide what to say, or if she should say anything at all. It seemed so pointless, almost impossible to explain that some issues lie beyond what meets the eye.

She also considered another possible outcome. Sonia was a real social butterfly, so unlike Rhaya, who was born lackluster, grave. Just the way her niece entered the room added glitter to the air. The child was blessed. With a wide Cheshire cat smile, sparkling eyes under lengthy, dark lashes, she’d bat them like a moth, before flying upstairs with her cousins, probably carrying a bag of hot Doritos or a fresh pack of Oreos.

Sonia would snap out of it and come out shinning, for sure. No ordeal, no long winding road, just childhood. Rhaya hoped.