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Part 3

Collectively, the room said 'Amen' -expect for Gaige who blinked down at his dinner plate. Stanley announced Adults would get to go through the food line first which made the kids whine but gave Gaige a celebratory moment of relief. He could close his eyes, run his thumb over the smooth back his phone case, listen to all the giggles and talk of what food who was going to get the most of.

He thought of mounds of mash potatoes, his protruding hip bones, neon numbers flashing on the treadmill, Leon and his mama, a blunt, someone riding him, staring at his feet on the scale, fingers down his throat, Erin's pumpkin pie, Milton's terrible flirting with Adonis, holes in his jeans, the camera Adonis liked to hide behind, the articles Maddy sent him when she saw the cuts on his wrist and numbers on the scales, his sickness-

"Ok, you kids can go get your food. Chester, make sure one of your brothers help you get your food, okay?" Brad smiled with his own large, filled to the top, plate of food at Gaige and then his younger son.

The kids slipped out of their chairs at the speed of lightning- with their plates in hand- the teenagers much slower to follow to the picked apart food. After about twenty adults, there was still plenty of everything left. Corn, stuffing, dark and light meat. Gaige sucked in his lips, easing the thin skin between his teeth.

"Gaige!" Chester was in the middle of the line, but swung around, his eyes scanning until they found the tallest boy in the whole house, "Will you help me? Daddy said-"

"I know," Gaige sighed, step out from the second last in line and moved to stand next to the boy about half his height. He could see the adults all smiling with their light banter as they stuffed their faces. Older siblings helped the younger siblings, Milton and Adonis even helped a couple kids, but Gaige just stood their next to the half-brother he never wanted. The son he was supposed to be.

When they started to reach the food, Chester handed his plate to Gaige who took it after a minute of hesitation, "Ok, I want only a little bit of the light colored turkey. The dark is like gum and is hard to chew," Gaige watched the little boys screw up his face for a moment before putting two little bits of light meat on the plate, and then they moved down, "Uh, I want a big mountain of mash potatoes. And gravy. Like daddy always gets. but no stuffing. It has onions and I hate onion," At least the two brothers could agree on something, "Uh, corn. I like corn. And, uh, green beans. And, ooh! I roll! Gram has the best rolls! Two rolls! So I can have one for later," The little boy bit his smile with such excitement. Gaige followed the boy's instructions, even though he knew Chester was 5 and shouldn't be trusted to choose his own life, although he had to admit he was pretty good at it.

"And mac and cheese!" The plate was pretty full, Gaige had managed to barely bigger than the portion size he eats, but he figured it was okay seeing as it was a five year old and it was a lot of different food he wanted to eat.

Gaige finished and handed the plate to his little sibling, who eagerly took it but seemed to dip in strength as if the plate was so heavy. Then Chester smiled largely up at Gaige with messed up teeth and pushed them towards the water jug, "Okay now I need water, and make sure to write my name on it so nobody else drinks out of it. It's my water," Gaige blinked at the little demanding boy, but filled up a cup and wrote 'Chester' on the side with a sharpie that had been placed nearby. When Gaige went to hand the little boy the water, Chester dodged it and began walking back to his seat, "Come on. And then you can get your food and eat with us."

Gaige shuffled behind the little boy who stumbled with his large plate of food. He watched as Chester slide his plate on the table, and then into his folding chair, before smiling at Gaige, "Okay. You can put my drink down. Go get food before daddy gets more and eats it all," Gaige's automatic response would have been 'he can have it all if he wants' but he remembered he was talking to a five-year-old who probably didn't his body and will to live.

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