When I was a child I had pica.
It wasn't something that immediately concerned my parents. Babies chewing and biting at nonedible items is par for the course.
Just make sure the baby doesn't get anything poisonous or a choking hazard. Typical parenting stuff.
But when I started to become mobile everything changed. Suddenly I was off and cramming anything not glued down deep into my gullet.
It became a desperate everyday struggle to make sure I was safe. Eventually my parents brought me to a pediatrician diagnosed me with pica.
She assured my parents that children grow out of these sort of things, and it was just part of the usual hiccups and bumps of raising a tiny person.
Life went on. My parents adjusted to my specific needs, and so did I. I can't remember when I started to hide my "meals". I certainly remember when I was caught.
THE ROOM had already completely been transformed by my parents desperate attempt to keep me safe. The room was beyond simple.
There were no toys, I had been allocated supervised playtimes in which toys were allowed. But they had been fazed out as well when I began sneaking them away to munch on in solitude.
Wooden floors had replaced the carpet when i had begun sucking at the fibers, nawing away a wide swatch under my bed before anyone noticed.
Likewise curtains, sheets and blankets removed when they showed the telltale bite marks of my insatiable hunger.
They left me a plain wooden bedframe and mattress. That was their mistake. Night after night I had gently worked at the seams.
Sucking and tonguing the fabric until it fell away revealing the beautiful marshmallow insides.
I feasted on that mattress night after night, always carefully pushing the torn and deflated side against the wall in the morning.
My feeble attempt to evade discovery, which of course I was eventually discovered.
Ever since that night I've worn THE MASK. The bastard child of a ball gag and a screen door. The cold metal digs into my lips and face.
I can taste the metallic deliciousness of the mesh when I run my tongue along the back of it. I want to peel it off and swallow it whole. But I can't...at least not yet.
I can't let them know how weakened the metal has become, and pull this wrecked delicious thing off my face. I must wait until they are in THE ROOM with me.
They are old and weak now, just like the mask, and I am hungry. I think about what their teeth might taste like.