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When Yvette fell ill, her parents tried everything they could.

They called expensive doctors, who prescribed medicines with complicated names. She took the medicines obediently, but still she lay in bed, weak and listless, barely eating anything. The medicines didn’t work.

They called in religious people of all faiths (starting, naturally, with their own, but soon expanding in the search for results) to pray beside her bed. She liked some of the songs they sang, but got bored when they prayed in languages she didn’t know and usually fell asleep.

They called alternative practitioners, who gave her massages with scented oils, laid crystals and stones on her body and around the room, who waved their hands in complex patterns designed to correct her energies. They stuck needles into her, and burnt candles in her ears.

None of it worked. Still she lay there, listless and pale, a mere shadow of her former self, refusing all food while her parents debated what else they could do.

“She’s wasting away,” her mother whispered. “There must be something else we can try?”

Her father shook his head sadly. “We’ve tried everything, and we’ve hardly any money left for her treatment. I just don’t understand it. The doctors don’t even know what’s wrong with her!”

Her little brother, who had been playing with his fire truck on the sitting room carpet, looked up.

“Mama? Papa? Have you tried asking Yvette what’s wrong?”

They stared at him for a moment, then rushed to their daughter’s bedside.

“Yvette, my dear,” her mother whispered, “Can you tell us what’s wrong with you? Why won’t you eat anything?”

“Oh mother,” she sighed, “Do you remember the yams we had on holiday? They were so nice, I simply don’t think I could eat anything else any more!”

© Kari Fay