“Pushing the River” excerpt…


…in which Madeline tries to get a pregnant teen (Sierra) to eat…


            “Hey, are you hungry?  I already ate, but what about you?  Are you starving?”

            “Um, I don’t know.”

            “Come on, sure you do.  You know if you’re hungry or not.”

            “Are you hungry, MadMad?  I guess I could eat, but only if you’re gonna eat.”

              “When was the last time you ate?”

              “Um, I don’t know.”

              “You don’t remember the last time you ate?  OK, seriously, that has never happened to me.  Not ever.  Tell me what you’ve had to eat today.”

              “Um, some cereal.  I think.  Wait.  Maybe that was yesterday.  I had some leftover macaroni and cheese.  Definitely.”

              “Is that all?  Aren’t you starving?”

              “Well, I’ll eat if you eat.”

              “OK, OK.  Tell me what you’d like to eat.”

              “I don’t know.”

              “Well, think about it.  What do you feel like eating.  Make some little pictures of food come into your head and then tell me what those pictures are.”

              “Just surprise me.  Anywhere is fine.”

              “OK, tell you what.  We’re gonna pass every single food place that there is between here and my house, so the minute you see something that looks good to you, just let me know, and we’ll pull in.”

              “Surprise me.  You pick.  I want to be surprised.”

              “OK, there’s a McDonald’s.  Let’s just pull in there.”

              “I don’t really want anything from McDonald’s”


              “They don’t have anything I feel like eating.”

              “Ok, so what do you feel like eating?”

              “I don’t know.   Surprise me.”

              “I think we just tried that.”

              “I know, I know.  I’m sorry!  I won’t do it again.  Anywhere is fine.”

              “Let me just name some of the places we’re gonna pass – see if any of them strike your fancy.  Of course, there’s McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, every different grocery store there is in the Midwest – we can always buy a bunch of stuff to take home — Pizza Hut, 31 Flavors…hey, you know those frozen things they have at Dairy Queen?  Do you know what I mean?

              “Do you mean a Blizzard?”

              “Yeah, yeah, a Blizzard.  Do you know that I’ve never had one?  I think I’m the only person in the United States of America who’s never had one.  I don’t have a policy against them, or anything, just haven’t had one.”

              “I can’t believe you’ve never had one.”

              “Do you know if we’re gonna pass a Dairy Queen on the way?  Do you want to go there?”

              “No, no, I don’t want to go there.  I just can’t believe you’ve never had one.”

              “OK, look, here’s a Subway coming up – good, healthy stuff.  You wanted me to decide and surprise you; here I go.  Subway it is.  We’ll park and go in so you can look at everything.  Let’s go.”

              “I can’t believe you’ve never had a Blizzard.”




              “Sierra, do you want to go to Dairy Queen?”


              “I’m just saying.”



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