Brown Sugar Cheese Toast

J. Dianne Dotson
2 min readApr 15, 2020

I look up at the window, and my eyes droop. I focus only on the near-space, on the dirt on the outside of the window. Then my eyes slide a bit, and I look up at the mesa top, where a jacaranda sways. Next month it will burst forth in purple blossoms. I think that’s next month. Usually it happens in May. Is next month May?

The elasticity of time is only tricked more by that of memory.

I think back to when my maternal grandmother had me over to stay at her house. This was something I rarely did. And she was ill, with colon cancer. She would brush her poofy silver hair, and show me the clumps that would come out in the brush. I did not know how to react. But I kept close to her, sensing even at my young age that each moment was precious.

She had nothing much to give me to eat. But she did like to gum her sliced apples. I never really saw her wear dentures. She cut some apples up for us on this one occasion, and I squeezed my eyes at their tartness. Then she asked me if I wanted some brown sugar toast.

Being a sweets hound, of course I wanted sugar toast. Better still: BROWN sugar. But then she took out slices of American cheese and put them on the bread first. My eyes went round.

She cackled at my expression.

She took the toast, with its plasticky melted American cheese, and spooned brown sugar over it all. I was appalled. I had in my head something akin to cinnamon sugar toast, except with brown sugar. This, what was this?

“Try it!” she urged. And I realized she was serious. “It’s good!”

I was dubious. But I dared to take a bite.

And you know what? She was right. It was good.

I realize now, thinking back, that Mammaw was just trying to feed me with limited means. I know what it’s like to face limited means. I did during the Recession, when I learned to make cheap food like oatmeal pie since I coudn’t afford pecans. When I hoped the seeds would grow in the garden I carved out of the rental’s back yard.

Now we live in a situaiton in which food insecurity affects more people than ever.

Maybe I won’t serve my kids cheese toast with brown sugar. Or maybe I will, but it won’t be American cheese, and it might be on bread I make myself. But I will know, no matter what, that we can make it on a little. Because we care so much.

J. Dianne Dotson

J. Dianne Dotson is a science fiction/fantasy/horror author, science writer, and artist. Repped by Laura Bennett. Visit @jdiannedotson