It’s funny the things you learn in a famine, things that boys or girls who never got that hungry before wouldn’t even guess. Did you know, for example, there’s a special kind of soup you can make out of not much more than water and tree bark? It’s awful sour in your mouth, and it makes your stomach do a kinda twist, like it wants to get itself tied in a knot, but you eat it anyway ’cause you ain’t got nothing else for that whole day. You know how I said Mr. Mittens and I liked to hunt for bugs in the old days? Turns out there’s hardly any bug you can’t eat. They make an awful crunching sound, but once you get used to it, especially once you feel how nice your body feels after a beetle, you start to think of them like a treat. Maybe like popcorn, except you don’t get a whole bowl full of them, and they’re not covered in that orange and yellow juicy stuff that makes it taste so good on account of the extra salt or whatnot.
That reminds me, we went to the school library the other day, and I saw a book all about all kinds of flowers you can eat, so I peeked through it, and it turns out it’s nearly all wrong. There’s lots of flowers it says aren’t eatable, but I think it really means is they just don’t taste as good as the others. When I got to Medford, and I seen how some people here like to grow flowers in their gardens, I remember being confused at first ’cause everyone I talked to before said in America there was plenty to eat, so I wondered why they had to grow their own food instead of getting it from the stores. And then, if they were gonna grow their own food, I wondered why they didn’t plant berries or carrots or something yummy like that. If you had never lived through famine, you’d look at them gardens and see something pretty, but I look at them now and I could tell you right away which flowers are the first I’d eat and which I’d save until I was really high on the starving scale on account of them tasting so bad.
The "Twelve Days of Woong" series includes short snippets from my upcoming novel, Flower Swallow. Get your pre-publication copy NOW when you donate to Liberty in North Korea or read it free on Wattpad.