The little girl hates this new soup. She hates her mother, too, for taking her to this new house—with its diseased wind snarling down slanted hallways, rats that slink underneath her feet. The little girl steps on cracks and hopes the blinking paintings will fall and shatter.
But mostly she hates this soup—rusty carrots and torn onions swimming in bloated alphabet pasta. It makes her angry.
Good girls don’t cry about soup, her mother had said. Good girls help mommy in the new house instead.
The little girl hates her. She told daddy not to come.
She can hear rain against the window. She swirls the soup with her spoon and wonders if the trees will reach their fingers through the soot-stained gate. She stops stirring the pasta letters. They keep moving. And the little girl watches as the letters push their way to the top of her bowl, drowning the torn onions and rusty carrots. She can hear her mother clinking pots in the kitchen. The letters have stopped moving. Don’t look
behind you, they say. Don’t look. She hears her mother scream in the kitchen. It’s loud and high and the little girl hopes it won’t scare the rats.