Dahlia had a craving for something that most women craved daily; she was unfortunately living up to a worldwide stereotype, she was craving chocolate. Cravings were nothing new to Dahlia, she had had to overcome many craving during her life, chocolate being one of the lesser ones, one she didn’t really mind and was happy to indulge and so as she tidied the files sat in front of her, stood and neatened out her crinkled dress she considered those other cravings and how they had impacted her life. When she was a child she had craved the bitter taste of the coffee beans that grew metres above her head, as she had grown coconut milk became popular and then the two mixed together. She would scramble to the top of trees as a child and pluck them or knock them free from their branches, her mother would often yell at her when she arrived home with her arms full and her knees bleeding but Dahlia was a slave to her cravings. While sat back at her desk the chocolate melting on her tongue, Dahlia though of her most destructive craving, the one that had been so strong it had ruled her life. Dahlia had grown up in a tribe, one that had remained free from western culture from many decades, even centuries; as a child she would bask in the heat of the burning sun, her dark coffee bean coloured skin felt safe from the perils of the sun’s rays and when she over heated she would swim in the sea so blue it glittered with life or she would take refuge in the shade of the rubbery deep green leaves that thrived beneath the sky reaching trees of the un touched jungle. Her life was perfect and then change came though it were not in the form of westerners, touting technology and modernity it came in the form of death and destruction in its purest form; nature.
Dahlia finished her chocolate, she absently opened one of the earlier tidied files and stared blankly at the writing as it blurred before her eyes. She had been 16 years old when it had started, things began to dye, it originated with the plants and spread to the smaller insects that fed upon them, then to the larger animals the insects bit or came into contact with and then it spread to the people who ate the animal meat because the crops they had grown had already perished, soon there was nothing we felt safe eating and then people began to turn on one another, those who were believed to carry the disease were targeted and slaughtered. Dahlias family had run, taken refuge wit- in the hollowed trunk of one of the many giant trunks that had fallen in the jungle and they hid and they began to starve. It was dahlias father who had died first, not from the disease but from the starvation and then her little sister had followed; it was her mother who had fought for her and her twin brothers, her mother who had introduced Dahlia to the most controlling, most delicious of her cravings. They had not eaten in weeks and other than the murky water that they collected when the rain fell hot and thick in sheets of tropical nourishment there was nothing else for them to consume and then her mother left them, she stood up one day and walked into the jungle in a direction that they had never before taken. Dahlia had not shouted after her for fear that someone might hear her and locate them, she just stood and watched, listening to the sound of her mother’s feet as they crushed the foliage beneath them until she could no longer be heard over the sound of the laboured breathing of her twin brothers; they were dying.
Three days later her mother still had not returned, Dahlia could think of only two reasons for this, either her mother could no longer watch the people she loved writhe in agony as they were dragged screaming from the world or she had died herself. Dahlia tried to stay strong as she watched her brothers weaken and she herself was ready to leave and then something appeared through the sheeting rain, Dahlia huddled close to her brothers afraid of the ‘monster’ that she had convinced herself was coming for them, she scolded herself for being a coward and quickly righted herself, pulling the thick fallen tree arm from its resting place and gripping it tightly she stood, poised ready to attack. She dropped the weapon, it landed just shy of her right foot but she didn’t notice the near miss as her eyes were trained intently on something else, someone else; it was her mother and she carried something upon her back, a second person or rather their body for even from her standing point, Dahlia could tell that the second person was dead. The day her mother had returned was the day that Dahlias life had changed forever, she had staggered over to them and dropped the body she had been carrying and then she had collapsed. As she had lain shivering and feverish her mother had muttered only one word,
“Eat” she had choked out the word over dried lips and swollen tongue and then she had pointed toward the dead body. At first Dahlia had been shocked and horrified but when she looked back down at her mother she knew what she had to do. Dahlia moved on her knees over to where the body had fallen, as she touched the skin it felt warm still; this person had died not long ago. Dahlia found the sharpest thing she could which was a splintered piece of rock and she used it to carve pieces of flesh from the cooling body and that was when she realised something else, as she piled the flesh in a bloody mass Dahlia realised that she had no way of cooking the raw meat. She could not build a fire for fear that it might be seen and so the only option she had was to eat the meat raw; it was a possibility that the person had contracted the disease that had ravaged their island though she held none of the signs and since Dahlia had no other choice she collect a thick piece of the meat and began to carve it into thin strips before she crawled back over to her mother and gingerly began to feed her the raw meat. Her mother ate hungrily, quickly despite her fragile state and then she drifted in a sleep like none Dahlia had ever witnessed; she moaned and shook with a cold sweat soaking her skin, Dahlia didn’t know what to do for the best but she chose to feed her brothers in a hope that they would gain their health and she would not lose them.
Her mother had not woken again nor had her brothers, they had, all three of them, passed away. Dahlia had spent hours upon hours digging graves for them, burying them, grieving for them and laying stones upon their final resting places. Though she had not been able to grieve fully for the loss of her family; men came with spears and knives and Dahlia had had to run, carrying with her the remaining meat that she had picked clean from the bones, she had also buried the dean, unknown woman feeling that she deserved the respect. Dahlia had not been able to find out how her mother had come across the dead woman but she had a sickening feeling that she had in fact been the one who had killed her. As she ran from the men and their weapons Dahlia felt something with-in her change, she felt herself speed up running like she had never run before and soon she was miles from the men on a part of the island that she had never before come across. She had feasted on the meat before she had left the camp and now she felt more alive than she had ever felt before; her tribe had had a belief, one that she had, herself, never before believed in, they believed that if one were to consume the flesh of another then they also consumed their soul, their life force; Dahlia believed that this had happened that she had, by eating the flesh of the dead woman, taken into her body the life of the woman and by doing so she had added to herself the strength of the woman, the health and the spirit.