I used to love toast. For breakfast with layers of sweet honey, dripping over the sides, along with a coffee with a good amount of milk and sweetener. Or strawberry jam, the kind that is filled with berries that explode on your tongue on a side dish along with your bowl of cereal and breakfast smoothie. Toast for lunch, with baked beans and cheese, cosying up with a notebook and fluffy socks while the wind batters the doors but your safe inside. Toasted sandwiches at Costa, the kind full of mozzarella and green pesto, bursting full of different flavours. Toast as an after dinner snack, when you’re still ravenous from the endless running around that day, with Nutella, sweet chocolatey hazelnut spread, or Peanut butter, the smooth kind, or both.
I stopped eating toast one day. I stopped eating bread. It was the yeast that scared me. I was convinced, to a point of not being able to pick up a tray of breaded chicken, that the yeast would slide down, through me, and start to fizz and bubble, inflating and stretching the stomach lining until it hung of me like a sad and old balloon. I was petrified to a point of not letting even the smell creep up a nostril, or for a piece to cling to the plate I was eating from. I checked everything that could have yeast in, scanning packets for the horribl ingredinent. Even things that had he word ‘bread’ in. Gingerbread lattes, which had been a favourite, gingerbread at Christmas, Pizza, Breadsticks, Breaded chicken. I couldn’t even bare to look at any of them for nearly two years.
Today I got in the car and went to Costa. I ordered a regular latte with a shot of sweetener and watched the steam erupt from the milk frother and the scent of coffee snaking around the air. I looked at the toasties, the paninis, the ones that I used to love. Not today, I say. Maybe soon. The coffee is done and I clasp around it, gratitude radiating through a kind smile to the friendly barista. Down the steps, 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. the ground floor 6.. 7.. 8.. 9.. 10.. and I’m at the entrance, which is now the exit. I’m tempted to put off walking out, but I know if I don’t walk out now, I never will. I get in the car, wind down the window and breathe, the caffeine buzzing it’s way into the bloodstream. We’re speeding past cars and I want the engine to stop, for us to discover a puncture and have to call for help, and there is no toast in sight. But we keep rattling through villages, and it goes faster than usual. Perhaps we are speeding in time with the pulsing of veins inside me.
Drive, backing, gate, path, door. Inhale, exhale. I’ve barely sat down before I can hear the forgotten noises of bread and toasters, clinging onto hopes that perhaps there will be a bread shortage emergency broadcast and I won’t be allowed to eat it. No signs of it. The buzz of electricity firing into the slice of brown and dreaded bread rings into me and I keep focusing on breathing, on the positives, which are starting to get slightly clouded. And then, it’s there. A single, half slice of brown toast, a triangler piece of bread, topped with a teaspoon of honey. I stare at it, waiting for it to vanish. It doesn’t. I reach out for it twice.. then five time, before the sticky piece of food is there, right in front of me, inches away from being consumed. I could put it down, I think. Scream and kick and refuse to eat it. Nobody can force it into me. I am weak. I am greedy.
I shake the thoughts away, and am granted a moment of peace from them, just enough to tear a slice of toast off and chew until it dissolves into toast soup, and then.. gone. I want to run a mile, and then three more. I want to do jumping crunches until I collapse and see stars. But I don’t. I keep eating. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. But I don’t. The honey is sweet, sweeter than it is drizzled into a black coffee. And the toast tastes sweet too. Halfway. This isn’t so bad. The voices are loud, but aren’t they always. And besides. They’re only kicking off because I’m fighting them. I have to fight back fiercer. A sip of coffee, and I leave a tiny fragment of toast, but I always will. I lean back and try not to think. Years of worrying, and avoiding and in less than a few minutes, I have got over them. Well, sort of. I know I’ll b back her tomorrow, eating another slice of toast, until I can eat a whole one, then two. Then a sandwich. Then a panini. Then pizza. Then anything in the whole wide world.
I let toast rule me for two years. I hate it, but I don’t. And one day, I’ll not care anymore.