by Anton Chekhov
On the surface, this is one of those stories that just happen. You can imagine somebody saying, like, “That reminds me of something that happened to me when I was eight.” They they tell the story, and you go, “Huh.” Then the conversation moves on.
BUT, this is Chekhov, and your brain doesn’t stop there.
In this story, an eight-year-old boy and his father on outside a restaurant. You can gather they are alone in the world and that they were once well off but no more. The father has come to Moscow to look for work but is now shabby, shoeless, jobless, and on his first attempt at begging.
The child is famished, so you can only imagine how hungry the father must be. Yet he cannot bring himself to beg.
The child sees an advertisement in the restaurant for oysters. He asks what they are and, being told, is revolted, yet so hungry he cries out for oysters.
A couple of rich dudes take him into the restaurant and feed him oysters as if he’s doing a trick for them: It doesn’t matter that he’s starving or that his father is starving; he is given to eat for the amusement of the rich.
He feels no more nourished when they finish with him, his father still hasn’t eaten and is still trying to hide his desperation and abject poverty from the child.
Haunting. This is one I’ll never forget.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about someone eating something they view with revulsion.