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Fiction in response to Good Health and Well-being
March 2018
By Kelsey Cashman
CC Image Courtesy of Mario Webb

I walk down the hall to the pantry and open the door. As they do every time, my hopes rise for a second at the thought that there will be something in there, something besides the stacks of processed snack foods, but I am once again disappointed. In fact, this time the pantry lacks even the accustomed snack foods. Apparently it’s time to go to the store.


“Mom, I’m heading to the store. Do you want anything?” I yell upstairs, but there’s no response.


Alright then, I’ll just head over and pick up enough food to last us until Mom puts together a list. I go over to the empty cookie jar and reach inside, pulling out the credit card, and then head out the front door. Walking outside, I shiver as the early morning air brushes past me under my light jacket and sweatpants. I unlock my bike from the gate and hop on, wincing as the forgotten dew seeps into the base of my pants. Oh well-- it’ll dry up soon enough.


After about a mile I reach the nearest store-- the 7-11. It’s the only place close enough- and cheap enough-- for us to do our grocery shopping. I lock up my bike at the bike rack and head inside, grabbing a basket on my way in. Walking down the isles, I reach for a carton of milk, but the soda is much cheaper so I decide to go with that instead. I proceed to grab a few boxes of power bars and some beef jerky, but then put back the beef jerky in favor of the cheaper chips.


My basket almost full, I begin to head to the register, but I am stopped in my tracks by the sight of the produce area. Glowing red apples, bright yellow bananas, mounds of green and purple grapes, boxes of fresh watermelon and cantaloupe-- just looking at the fruits makes my mouth begin to water. Slowly, I walk over to the produce, hoping-- no praying-- that just this one time it will be cheap enough for me to bring some home. But once again, I am disappointed. Sighing, I turn away from the fruit and head back to the register.


The man behind the register begins to speak to me, his voice filled with guilt and pity.


“Sorry honey...we’ve tried to make the prices reasonable but it’s hard getting fresh fruit here. It’s the whole food desert thing, whatever that means. I wish we could lower the prices, but if we lowered them any more we’d be losing money.”


I nod at him and begin to hand him the items in my basket. He takes the packaged, processed, and chemical-filled foods and drinks from the counter and rings them up, putting them into plastic bags for me to carry home.


On the way out, I take one last look at the fruits, longing for just a taste of one, and then the door closes between me and the produce. I walk back to my bike, balance one bag on each of the handlebars, and begin to pedal. Last time I saw the doctor, she told me I was obese and in danger of getting diabetes. She said I was at an even greater risk because my dad had some heart disease caused by eating too much junk food. She told me to get more exercise and to eat more fresh foods-- “less of that processed junk” she said. Too bad only one of those is possible.

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