Schrödinger’s Ham

Jackson had arrived at the time in a boy’s life when the eating begins. The real eating.

JP Fosterson
Published in
15 min readMar 21, 2019


My brother Jackson was fourteen years old, and hungry.

“Dad, where’s the ham?” he asked, at three-fifteen in the afternoon on the first day of school. He’d been home for five minutes.

“In the fridge.” My dad didn’t look up from his book.

“I can’t find it.”

“If you don’t see any, then don’t you think it’s reasonable to conclude that we’re out?”

“I don’t think we are,” said my brother.

Dad just shrugged.

Jack huffed back to the kitchen.

That’s how it started: that same conversation, with minor variations and embellishments, repeated, every other day. Jackson had arrived at the time in a boy’s life when the eating begins. The real eating. I mean, honestly, I don’t understand how parents can manage to keep food in the house with teenage boys around. As for me, I was ten, and still a few years away from that time when my after school snack would be a box of Honey-Nut Cheerios and a half-gallon of milk in a mixing bowl. But Jack was right up in it: two bowls of Rice Crispies with table sugar on top for breakfast, a bag lunch at school, an eight-hundred-calorie “snack” after school, dinner at six with ice cream or cookies for dessert, and then a couple more bowls of cereal before bed. I think this was before he’d learned to mix peanut butter with Pillsbury chocolate fudge cake icing and eat it with a spoon.

“Hey,” Jackson stuck his head in my room, a couple weeks into September. “You gotta help me find the ham.”

I was on my bed, re-reading the comic book adaptation of Star Wars that I’d gotten the year before when I was in the hospital with appendicitis. “Dad says we’re out,” I said.

“We can’t be out.”



JP Fosterson
Literally Literary

I tell stories, mostly not true | writer, coder, data scientist, musician | fiction • thoughts • code |