|Period 3: Mary's Dining Table|
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Rika is an extremely picky eater who doesn't like a lot of foods. One day she notices the old doll in her classroom and begins offering food as a joke until realizing it's being eaten. She takes advantage of this by feeding Mary everything she hates until one day when she realizes she isn't hungry despite how little she eats.
Yomi greets the readers and remarks on the season. She mentions how another child has gotten lost lately and begins her tale.
During lunch a young girl stares at her food in disdain. Her friend brings up how she hasn't eaten any of it as she gets up but as far as Rika is convinced she can't help it if she doesn't like the food. But Rika doesn't just hate one or two things; she detests several vegetables, milk, all types of meat, and several other foods.
As she thinks about sweets and how she would eat them with no hesitation- her teacher suddenly yells at her for getting rid of all of her food by giving it to people or tossing it. He hands over the wrapped bread she didn't touch and demands that she eats something, leaving her to lament being scolded. She hates raisin bread though, and while trying to determine what to do she turns to bump into an old doll that the class has had for some time and decides to rid of the bread by offering it to the doll, Mary, as a joke.
Upon returning from P.E. class she and her classmates find the bread has a large bite taken out of it. A boy claims that Mary must have done it and brings up a rumor he heard before, such as Mary devouring the class fish once. Rika's friend calls him out for trying to scare them and she berates him while Rika, suddenly enticed by the doll grabs it when nobody is looking.
That evening Rika stares at the meal her mother prepared. She isn't happy with it, and as her mom begins to rant about eating being necessary and how many people starve, Rika slips the food to Mary on a small dish. After her mom realizes she isn't listening she snaps at Rika aware of her tricks, sure she's trying to sneakily throwing it away. But failing to find anything, she takes the dishes away as Rika stares in surprise. She is delighted and hugs Mary, bringing her to her bedroom as she laughs at her mothers face, and she decides that if Mary can eat for her, she won't need to ever worry about feeding herself anymore since everyone would think she is eating. She won't get yelled at and everyone will be impressed.
This is shown to be true as Rika is able to rid of her food with nobody noticing. Her friend is surprised, questioning her sudden change but remarks upon how happy she is knowing she has become more thoughtful of her health. She wonders how she's capable of doing it though, but Rika teasingly refuses to say anything. Afterwards, she suddenly notices that she is barely hungry despite how much food she's been giving to Mary; not only that but for some reason Mary seems to be in much better condition these days; as if she's brand new.
One day Rika is preparing to leave for school when her mother stops her. She brings up how her teacher had been so impressed with her, that he called to inform her that he rewarded Rika for her efforts. She confirms, making her mother very happy. Rika leaves and thinks it over, believing that if everyone is happy it's not hurting anybody. She asks Mary to agree with her and looks down at her as guilt begins to settle in. She hides the doll as her friend approaches to mention how she recently conquered her hatred of mushrooms and can eat them with no problem now. Rika is stunned and asks how she did it, but repeating what Rika told her the other day, she claims it's a secret and can't tell her. As Rika stands behind, she realizes that with everyone giving it their best she really hasn't been trying herself. She decides that for today she can't use Mary.
During lunch, Rika struggles to force herself to eat the meal for the day. She pushes herself as her friend brings up how slowly she's eating suddenly, but Rika claims its nothing before she continues choking the food down and tearfully recoiling from how horrible it tastes to her until her teacher comes by showing support for her making progress. Despite not liking the food, she is happy to have been complimented like this and realizes that trying her best isn't all that bad and she continues on doing so. While her opinions of the food don't change, she's happy to see everyone expressing support and joy for her, and she is beginning to feel good again.
Through this time, her classmates become aware of Mary's return.
While in the middle of gym class, Rika struggles to keep up with her friend. She doesn't understand why she has such low energy since she's been eating, but she still hasn't felt hungry either. Her friend remarks that she doesn't look well when suddenly, Rika collapses. The others get help and she realizes that she fell because she couldn't move for a second, and while the teacher tells her just to rest for now, Rika can't help but realize other strange things as she gives it more thought.
Returning to class, Rika is startled when she finds her desk is messy and her items are covered in bite marks. It dons on her that Mary must have done it, and as she tries figuring out how Mary could have done this her friends return to class. They bring up being worried about her and she tries to tell them what Mary did; but as they remain confused, one of them notices that her hand looks different.
Rika is horrified after looking down to see it resembles a dolls hand and she begins to panic seeing that both of her arms now resemble that of a dolls. She thinks back to what happened during Gym, along with the other strange events as of late and she realizes that somehow, she is turning into a doll. As her friends helplessly watch, Rika throws her school book at Mary and runs for home, begging her mother for help. But she doesn't find her there; instead she sees Mary on the table. She attempts to plead with Mary after watching her head turn on its own, offering to resume feeding her if that is what she wants and repeatedly apologizing until hearing a strange sound. She realizes it's a heart beat coming from Mary, and she notices her own is growing faint until suddenly losing consciousness.
Later, she awakens to see that it was only a horrible dream and spots her mother nearby, finishing dinner. She is relieved realizing she is alive- but suddenly, she notices she can't move. As she tries to figure out what is happening, a girl with curled pigtails steps into the room and remarks on the delicious looking food and greets her mother. In return her mother greets "Rika", leaving the doll shocked as she tries to say she is Rika. But her desperate cries aren't heard as Rika's mother expresses delight in her change of behavior towards food now. She's been enjoys cooking and likes to experiment.
"Rika" giggles and recalls what her mother said a few days ago, that "Eating is Living" and begins to enjoy the meal. The real Rika, now an unmoving doll can only shed a tear while she sits on the shelf.
Yomi and the class sit at their desk while someone carts in food. She asks the readers if they waste their food as well and claims that she never wastes while picking up her utensils to begin eating her meal.