Sugar Is the Devil
by Ingrid Jacobs

I have this photograph in my mind of a hardcover book with a white cube cut by a red slash — Sugar Busters. Since before I was born, my home has life revolved around my father’s weight-loss attempts. The kitchen is full of landmines.

Mom makes meatloaf (with oatmeal instead of egg, because Baby Brother is allergic).
“D’you know how much sugar ketchup has?”

He opens the cupboard and finds cookies.
“I can’t have this crap around.”
“It’s not for you. It’s for the kids.”
“Just don’t buy it, okay?”
A piece of paper taped to the cupboard door reads: “DAD KEEP OUT!!!”

Like any daughter hoping to spare her father from an early grave, I take up his cause.
We make the sugar-free bread. The vinegar-y smell fills my nose.
We scour labels for those cursed grams of sugar.
We make progress.

Behind the closed door of my room, I lower my arm between the bed and the wall to my hoard of precious Halloween candy. The pillowcase is lighter.
Do I have his weakness?
“Hey, Dad?”
“Yeah, Binx?”
“D’you know where my Halloween candy went?”
“Why would I know? I don’t eat that stuff.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here is a picture of myself as a child, drinking something sweet and looking drunk. I was probably three years old. We spent most summers in the backyard, wearing swimming suits and eating off that plastic picnic table.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ingrid Jacobs grew up in Minnesota, but moved to Wisconsin once she came to her senses. She attended the Iowa Young Writer’s Studio in 2007. Her hobbies include reading, writing, being German, and dressing up her poor dog.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The sweetest thing in my life is my dog, Gracie. I call her Caramel Eyes. This photo with Gracie was taken on my birthday, July 20, 2015. I had decided to wear my dirndl to dinner (my boyfriend is a good sport). I had seen a photo series by Sophie Gamand of pit bull type dogs wearing flower crowns, and I was inspired to make one for Gracie. It matched my dirndl, so I forced her to wear it for a picture together.