Skip to main content
By Ann Dee Ellis

I say, No thank you.

She says, Too bad.

She spoons on the noodles and then the sauce.

She spoons on mushrooms and onions.

She spoons on beef.

Mom, I say.

She says, Not today.

She sits down.

She sits across from me.

She gets her napkin.

She puts it on her lap.

She looks at me.

I feel the tears coming but I also know I cannot cry.

I must not cry.

She picks up her fork.

I pick up mine.

She says, How was your day?

She’s talking to Dad but she’s watching me.

I put the fork in the beef.

I watch the beef go on the tines.

Sinewy and thick.

The boy next door asked me to lick his cheek just the other day.

I said, No. Never.

Now I think I would.

I would lick his cheek before I would eat this food.

Mom tells Dad that at work her boss was upset at her.

She’s watching me.

What happened? Dad asks.

I hold the fork in the air.

She says, Regular stuff.

I put the fork near my mouth.

The boy next door told me back in Virgina girls were licking his face left and right.

Left and right? I said.

Left and right.

Dad says, Lorna.

Mom says, What?

He says, Tell me what happened.

Mom tries to look at my dad and look at me.

Mom can’t do it.

She looks at my dad.

I grab the beef off the fork.

She looks back.

I hold it under the table, wet and slimy.

I chew nothing.

She says, It’s better than you thought, isn’t it?

I chew.

I point to my mouth and chew.

Dad wants to know more.

I put the beef in my pocket.

I do this over and over again as Dad talks to my mom about her boss.

My jeans are full of beef stroganoff.



Ann Dee Ellis is a professor at BYU. She’s published five novels for children and adolescents. She graduated with her masters degree in creative writing in 2003.