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THE SCREEN DOOR banged against the fridge as Ric stormed from the back shed into the room. Robert quickly followed, poking Ric in the back.

“You said you’d have it by Friday.”

“Well, I was wrong, wasn’t I.” Ric went to the counter, shoved the dirty dishes to the back, then pulled the plastic bread bag over. “Figures,” he muttered to himself. It was almost empty and sure enough, the bread was stale and beginning to mould. He took a knife from the drawer to pick off the mould while his hip tried to force the drawer closed again.

“Look man, you need that bike and I went out of my way to get it.” Robert sat a cheek on the edge of the grey marbled, Formica table. He swung his leg loosely while his fingers snapped the aluminium edging on the table. “So what happened to your bread? Didn’t your grocery store job pay you yesterday?”

Ric shrugged and continued to make his sandwich. He got the peanut butter from the cupboard. As he scraped the insides of the jar he heard the TV in the next room where his little brother was snuggled under a blanket. He’d been home from school four days now, but they’d finally gotten the medicine. It was bitter and even in a fevered stupor his brother had resisted. He had spit out the first spoonful.

What a waste, Ric thought as he looked out the window over the sink at the rusty fire escape and stared off. The knife in his hand smoothed the peanut butter over and over. The sunlight slanted horizontally on the building across the alley.

Shit. It’s later than I thought. A 40-minute walk to the store. I can’t afford to be late.

“Are you listenin’? I’m not gonna hang onto that bike ya know.”

Ric blinked his focus back into the kitchen.

“Great. Sell it to somebody else. Mackie might want it and he’s always got bread.”

Robert snapped his fingers. “Yeah!” His eyes glinted. “Mackie, the man with moolah.”

The screen door had barely banged shut when the front door opened. Ric heard his mother stop to check their patient before coming into the kitchen. She dropped the bag of groceries on the table, scraped the chair out and lowered her worn bones onto its seat. She rested her head in a hand propped up on the table and looked sideways at her son.

“You off to work?” Her tired eyes gazed warmly on her oldest child.

“Yep.” Ric dropped the sandwich in the empty bag and tied it in a knot.

“Is that the end of a loaf? I just got that.” She shook her head and slowly exhaled. It was just too difficult to keep up.

Ric picked up his jean jacket from the hook by the door. It’d be cooler when he walked home.


He turned back.

“Can you bring home some bread?”

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