The previous evening was mostly blur. I had arrived unrested, unkempt an ddehydrated, not to mention completely apathetic to the presence of everyone around me. The fluorescent lighting didn’t help. It felt like day but how long had I been in the ER? They gave me an IV of water, took my vitals, made me answer questions.
“When was the last time you ate?”
And the pause between the question and the answer alarmed them.
“I didn’t eat today actually.”
I had no problem getting to the acute unit. Well, I was escorted but I mean I was voluntary. Well,  I was on suicide watch but that felt normal to me. I had to eat so I was placed at a table with a big, black man with no hair named Aaron. He put a cup of chocolate pudding in front of me and a spoon.
“They’ve already had dinner.”
What time is it?
“I’m vegan.”
I looked down when I spoke, ashamed at my request. I should be grateful for anything right now. He eyed me before moving. I guess he was waiting to see if I would eat it without fight. Out of my periphery, I saw him nod. I had a red bracelet on so no one could leave me alone. He got up and traded places with the man outside the doorway. Aaron disappeared and this new man sat in his place.
He politely waved. He also had bald head too but he was slimmer than his friend and had a goatee. He never told me his name. Aaron returned with applesauce, his friend got up, Aaron sat down in front of me and slid it across.
“They said you don’t eat.”
“I’m gonna watch you eat.”
“Well aren’t you an angel?”
It took me one whole minute to pull the tab off. Aaron didn’t say anything. I hated being watched. I was slow when I was watched. I placed it neatly next to me and picked up the little plastic spoon and took a tiny bite. I felt the sugar hit my teeth and then the viscous goo and then the jaw’s reaction. Subdued panic. I placed the spoon back on the table.
“What, no way, uh uh. You gotta EAT.”
“I am eating, Aaron.”
He froze. When you say a man’s name back to him like that, they lose control. I picked the spoon back up and took another bite to show him.
“I’m eating.”
I took a few more bites to assuage him and then stopped.
“I don’t like to be rushed.”
He was immediate with his returns.
“I see that.”
I sat with my arms crossed in my lap waiting for him to leave but then I glimpsed at the red bracelet..
“So…is starvation the way you want to go?”
I rolled my eyes and looked out the window. What to say here. You have to be careful in hospitals. You have to be careful in court and with doctors and with landlords. You always have to be careful. I kept my eyes to the window.
“Of course not. I would always jump off a bridge. Be dramatic about it.”
“Oof that would hurt.
I turned back to look at him. he leaned back in his chair, crossed his hands over his lap.
“So does everything.”
I finished the applesauce in front of him and he didn’t ask any more questions.He escorted me to my room and I saw that I was sharing the room with an older white woman who I knew immediately was trouble. I could tell because when I walked in she said,
“Get the fuck out of here you polak bitch.”

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