It wasn't until Elma had set a steaming bowl of fish stew in front of her, that Anna realized just how hungry she was.
The last meal she had ate consisted of half an egg sandwich, a raisin bun, and a cup of tea, all of which had been laid out at the church social. She hadn't even been that interested in the food at the time, getting caught up in a conversation with her friend Mary about the upcoming school year. She was sure that had been at least a full day ago.
Though quite hungry, Anna had watched Elma prepare the stew out of the corner of her eye and was still quite unsure on what some of the ingredients actually were. She poked and prodded the stew a few times, swishing the liquid back and forth, try to make out what some of the "chunks" were.
Elma and Shireen had already begun to eat, Anna watched in fascination, wondering if having such wide and sharp pointed teeth made it harder to eat with utensils. Apparently it didn't.
Behind her, Anna could hear slurps and gulps, with quick whistle sounds thrown in from time to time. Apparently Teak was enjoying the meal as well.
At least it smelled good. It wouldn't hurt to try a bit.
Anna dropped her spoon in the bowl and scooped out a piece of fish from the broth. At least I know what this is, Anna thought.
She lifted the spoon and brought it towards her mouth, pausing for a moment to blow on the chunk of fish to cool it off. She took the plunge and stuck it in her mouth.
It was fabulous.
Any skepticism Anna had about the dish quickly disappeared. Unknown ingredients be damned, it was very tasty. The hunger took over, and she quickly wolfed down the bowl of stew. Despite starting well after Shireen and Elma, Anna was the first at the table to reach the bottom of her bowl. Teak of course had finished long ago and had curled up next to the stove again.
Elma took note of Anna's enthusiastic consumption and smiled, "Well, it looks like someone enjoys the old family recipe." she took Anna's empty bowl. "Would you like some more?"
Anna nodded. Elma scooped up another helping of the stew and placed it before her. It disappeared as quickly as the first.
"I never thought I would see a land dweller eat as fast as a shark," Shireen laughed. "Or maybe a whale."
Anna chuckled, it had been the first time she had laughed since parting ways with Mary. The smile quickly faded from her face.
"What's wrong?" asked Shireen.
"I feel a little guilty," Anna said. "Here I am laughing, and my mother is probably combing the woods near our home fearing the worst."
Elma placed a comforting hand on Anna's shoulder. "It's time to tell you how we get you home."