2011. I had a bread addiction.
When the psychiatrist asked me to think of situations that triggered my behaviour, I answered Woolworths bakery, close to the end of the day.
He showed me an inkblot, symmetrical and jagged, like the crossbones of a roadkill Jolly Roger.
"What do you see?" he said.
"A Mocha Hot Cross Bun."
Flashbacks from six years ago. My last relapse, sucking down a six-pack a day. Buying a dozen with the intent of freezing buns that were never frozen.
I thought it was all behind me, that my penchant for those delicious, sweet bread-sacks of wheat, chocolate and coffee had gone stale. After all, Jesus had risen, Woolworths stopped selling them, and in the years that followed I never even felt the urge to eat them again.
Then, in 2017, I saw the sticker.
Not just that sticker, but the other sticker too.
Later I would discover Woolworths stopped making them after 2011. I guess those piles of packs marked down for clearance were because the bakers shared my lack of impulse control. For whatever reason, six years later, they decided to bring them back.
Mocha Hot Cross Buns - The Resurrection.
I'll just buy a packet and eat them for the sake of a journal entry, my brain lied. It wasn't really my thoughts. It was the voice. The whispering of addiction. Would I be foolish enough to break bread with that monkey on my back? The voice told me it would be okay. The voice told me one wouldn't hurt.
"I don't think so," I told the voice.
We got home from food shopping. The buns were on the top of the bag. Adding them to my trolley, putting the self-service checkout on mute, using a 5.25% discounted Woolwoths E-Gift Card at the register, ignoring the checkout assistant, stealing a pump of her hand sanitiser as I left. I didn't remember any of this. The voice had whispered in my ear the whole time, keeping me complicit.
It was debatably morning tea time. I unwrapped the plastic and pulled one free, placing it in the microwave on a sheet of paper towel. It was almost all muscle memory. The 10sec button once, the 1sec button seven times. Too long and it would burn me. Too short and it would maintain too much structural integrity. Seventeen seconds The perfect amount of microwaving to bring the bun to that ideal penumbra between food and delicious, chocolatey nourishment goo. I slurped it down, deaf to the world and the feelings of guilt and shame and regret. There was only thing I could think of.
"More," said the voice. Mocking me. It was back. "You forgot to take a photo. Eat another one."
I tried to recall the 12 Step Program and I heard the voice say, "Two more six packs."
By lunchtime the packet was down to 2. In a sudden moment of clarity I considered flushing the rest down the toilet, but that joke was only funny when I was renting. I felt anger, confusion and, according to the voice, hunger.
Worse, I hadn't even thought of a single good thought to journal about my relapse.
"Relax," said the voice. "You have until April 16."
I stared at the remaining two buns, slick with doughy-sweat on the inside of the packet. The bread tie all that separated me from another backwards step. And I replied to the voice, "No."
No. I was not the same person I was in 2011. My base metabolic rate was 40 calories per day higher then. Also I have a wife and a dog now.
The voice said something, I couldn't make it out. It's strength was crumbling.
Those two buns sat in the pantry for another seven days, waiting for me to falter. I never faltered.
At the end of the week they were weak, drying. They still looked edible.
"Eat them," the voice begged as I opened the garbage bin. "The flavour, the texture, the fuzzy feeling in the brain. Eat them."
"Who are you talking to right now?" I said. "Who is it you think you see? You clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. You are not the flavour, bread. I am the flavour! A guy opens his door and gets crossed and you think that of me? No...
I am the one who mochs."