Name means: [Gluttony]

       Pronunciation: [ad-uh-fey-juh]

       Parents: [None]

       Origin myth: [Came into existence on an island in Sicily, worshipped alongside Demeter, the corn goddess]

       Celebration of feast day: [Unknown]

       Mythology merchandise: [Unavailable]

       Medical taxonomy: [An old-fashioned name for bulimia nervosa]


       Did she get to eat all the sacrifices or were there limits? Yes to pigeon dressed with cucumbers and olives, no to hindquarters of roasted lamb. Why would there need to be something left over, Dr. Ahmad asks. I can’t explain. I just think she wanted it that way. Tiny bites of untouched food. Or something more symbolic. A sheep’s eye, maybe, alarmed and pale, peeking through a layer of white film like death came as a surprise. She could have buried the offerings in the dirt. Or hid them behind the statue they built of her. Dr. A. says I spend too much time considering the possibilities.


       The sun cups the earth in its palm and kisses the fields. Golden beams bless the crops, people toiling in the vineyards – shepherds and comely maidens with flowing skirts and copper skin. Presiding over the pastoral is Adephagia: Rubenesque. Massive. Powerful. No one dares challenge her authority. They fear her, but in a good way, because they know without her they’ll starve. Goddess of abundance. We feed you at your pleasure. Sheep, pigeons, cows, goats placed artfully at her bejeweled feet. She licks her massive lips and waits for the fires to be kindled.


       It’s about control, says Dr. A., but I disagree. Food is a product. I consume and expel it. That’s all. There isn’t anything more.


       They weigh me every day. I can keep my things on. The nurses subtract two pounds for clothing, which I don’t think is fair. It’s important to be accurate and fabric type affects the numbers on the scale. Each sock equals three quarters of an ounce. My heart alone weighs one and a half pounds. It’s a fact. I looked it up on WebMD.


       When the worshippers gaze at Adephagia, they’re transfixed by her size. Her skin flushed from half-raw meat, her teeth always in motion, blood pooling in her mouth. It’s like staring at a sky that doesn’t end. Or studying a marble sculpture in the Louvre, examining it from different angles, searching for cracks.


       Weight is a social construct, invented by people who want to sell you stuff, who get to decide what constitutes the norm. I learned that in Sociology. When I told Dr. A., he didn’t even bother to write it down in his notebook. He’s selective about what he records just like I’m selective about what I eat. It creates a bond between us, a secret he doesn’t know is there.


       After the final mouthful, but before the first purge, the sun slides behind the mountaintops. Smoke plumes towards the trees as I lick the fat from my fingers, surveying a tiny charred pile of bones.

Beth Sherman

Beth Sherman received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in The Portland Review, KYSO, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Sandy River Review, Blue Lyra Review, Panoplyzine, Sun Star Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal and Gloom Cupboard and is forthcoming in Delmarva Review and Joyce Quarterly. Her poetry has been published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Hartskill Review, Lime Hawk, Synecdoche, Gyroscope and The Evansville Review, which nominated her poem, “Minor Planets” for a Pushcart Prize this year. She has also written five mystery novels.