Tommy almost killed me. He was my best friend and those sweets he gave me weren’t mint imperials. They were moth balls. Nana stuck her fingers down my throat three times to make me sick. She said moth balls are poisonous and I could die.

Then, while Nana was busy making me sick, Tommy ate all our cabbage because he was starving. It was only a few leaves but he didn’t even ask. And that made Nana even angrier, which is understandable because we needed that cabbage for dinner. So Tommy wasn’t my best friend anymore.

And then there were the eggs. I should have known the eggs were for the lodgers’ dinner. They were paying to live in our house so they had to be fed more than cabbage and potatoes. But I took the eggs anyway and put them in my cowboy hat and covered them with Nana’s scarf, the tartan one with the tassels.

Nana almost lost her mind trying to find those eggs while the lodgers paced up and down in the kitchen after a long hard day digging roads in the rain. She knew she had four eggs in the pantry, two for each of the Irish road diggers.

So I told her I took the eggs and they were in my cowboy hat with her scarf to keep them warm and I was going to hatch them into chickens. I would keep the chickens in a pen in the backyard and then we could all have eggs for supper or even for breakfast. And it wouldn’t matter if Tommy ate our cabbage leaves again.

Nana slapped my face for being so stupid. Even a five-year-old should know that eggs from the pantry cannot be hatched into chickens. Daddy said I was just trying to put food on the table. But Nana said that was his job which he could do if he wasn’t out drinking all day long.

So Daddy said he was leaving and I tried to hang onto his leg but he pushed me away. And Nana said I would go to bed without any supper for causing her such an embarrassment. And Tommy could not come round ever again because the next thing you know he would be eating our potatoes as well as the cabbage. Then everyone would go hungry at suppertime.

I didn’t mind the pain of hunger. Eggs from the pantry will not hatch into chickens. And at least I knew that if you eat moth balls, you will die. Even if you are starving. But I never knew if Daddy would be coming home again.

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