Paradise, part three of seven

III. The Provider.
A man and a woman are sitting at a table together. The woman is enormously fat. The man looks at the clock on the wall, then gets up to go to the window. He skulkily reaches through and picks up a basket from the flower bed outside, which he brings in and sets on the table. The basket contains a hearty meal.

The woman looks at him blankly for a moment, then turns her attention to the food, which she begins devouring rapidly.

“We don’t know where it comes from,” he says. “It is provided. Before it started, we had to go out and work to grow our own food. I had a lovely garden!” For a brief moment a light brightened in his face, then it flickered and went out as he continued. “One day, the basket showed up. We ate it all. The next day we only ate some of it, and we noticed that an hour after it appeared, the basket disappeared again.” The woman glances up as he starts talking, then back down to her food.

“That was when I began to suspect..” he is whispering now, and the woman is not paying attention to anything but her meal. Loud smacks emanate from her side of the table. “..that the food is not for us. The provider puts it there, but it is for someone else. Whatever we leave, goes to the others. If we take it all, they get nothing.”

“At first, I decided we’d better not take it all. But then, we were so hungry. And she..” he nods down the table at the woman who is still munching away “..she is always hungry. Now I bring the whole basket in and we eat all the food, though I leave most of it for her. She eats almost all of it, but always leaves a little for me.

“We never leave any for the others anymore. But there is always enough for us. Always. It’s all we could ask for, really.”

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