Trade in

I am hungry.

What a thought for Kiara to have, as the realization that she couldn’t solve this dawned upon her. Last week she could have dealt with such a small thought easily. Now, it was no longer a small thought. People went hungry all the time, but that had seemed so different from anything that could happen to her.

Until it had happened to her.

“I haven’t seen you in weeks.” Mikhos sounded concerned, but he’d always sounded concerned.

Kiara swallowed. “I… um…” She looked down at the papers in her hands. She never understood how this had worked, but she’d gotten used to it, when she didn’t think about it. Mikhos ate paper. Or stories. She didn’t think he ate blank papers. She hadn’t thought too much about it. Which was why she’d spent hours filling up these pages, hoping it would be enough.

Mikhos looked at what she held. “Are those for me?”

She bit her lower lip. “I’ll sell them to you. They’re one of a kind.”

She hated saying it. She hated how it sounded. Mikhos was staring at her. Kiara could have run away.

“Come on in.”

She followed him in, hoping this would work out.

The charity of neighbors

Mikhos supposed he should have appreciated the sentiment. Other people considered it a form of recycling and opposed to sending the paper off somewhere else they had given it to him.

Of course, none of them understood exactly what he got when he ate a book. Thankfully, Menachem liked to read even more than Mikhos did. Of course, Menachem didn’t have any baggage attached to such things. Mikhos watched his expression as he perused the papers. “What is that one?”

“A series of letters. I guess someone didn’t want to keep them anymore.”

“Um. Is it all that personal?”

“That and more. Don’t worry, it’s nothing raunchy. You might actually like this.” Pulling out his phone, Menachem took a photograph of the current page and handed it over to him. “Reading it, I mean.”

Mikhos read it. “This is about Kiara.”

“Yeah. Probably between her mother and her grandmother. Kiara’s mum dumped this off. You know, since the whole fallout.”

Mikhos put the phone back on the table. “I can’t eat these. What if they make up?”

Menachem shrugged. “Your choice.”

For the first time in a long time, Mikhos sat down and actually read from the paper, without consuming it afterward.