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Alphabet Soup

(You can listen to this piece on S2E12)

Charlotte sipped her Campbell’s alphabet soup from a mug of Mickey and Minnie Mouse cheesing side-by-side, hearts encircling their heads like a lover’s halo. On the stove, the remainder of the canned soup sputtered over medium heat. A ray of light from the setting sun streaked across her face. As she ate, a cockroach wheedled out of a hole under a kitchen outlet. Its antennae computed the air before it scuttled across the counter and into a crack in the green Formica near the utensil drawer.

Charlotte sipped her alphabet soup once more from the mug her mother handed her for dinner. A dinner 9-year-old Charlotte ate alone while her mother soaked in a bleach bath because that was the only way she felt clean after her days working on soddy mattresses and sedan backseats.

Charlotte ate her alphabet soup without a word. She collected letters like a wartime movie’s soldier and lover; being careful to save up all the As and eat them last because A-marks were signs of success. And her teachers loved this little girl for her quietness and her patience, and her As that told them she’d go far in life if she kept being a good girl and doing her assignments as well as she did. Which made her proud. The only thing she could be proud of in her life.


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