Japarta has eaten so much there is nothing left for anyone else to eat. The people complain. They say, "Please, spare us something, we are hungry!" But Japarta does not listen. He has long ago grown too fat to get feed himself; he needs the people to do it for him. They bring him pigs and goats, hamburgers, wheelbarrows full of Coke. Some do it because they hope to get a little bit in return (they don't); but most are afraid that he will eat them.
Since 1972, Japarta has eaten some 500,000 men and women. Because he feels hunger differently, Japarta is in too much pain to pay close attention during meals. Sometimes he has eaten whole families, still in their clothes, and all their photographs and souvenirs and diaries. It is hard for everyone else to remember them.
"It was not always this way," says one woman to her daughter. "Before Japarta began to eat so much, he was a general. They called him the smiling general, because he always smiled and waved at the people whenever he came by."
"Why did he take all our food?" the girl asks. Her mother sighs.
"No one knows, honey. No one knows."
That night the girl, who has brown eyes, cannot sleep. Her stomach is growling, the bread her mother snuck her that morning dissolved away. She looks to the window where the night sky is coming on full of stars. "I wish there were more food to eat," she says, "for Mom and everyone."
In the morning people all over the world wake up to find there are twice as many pigs in the pen as there had been the night before. So it is with goats, and hamburger patties, and even the Coke containers have doubled in size. No one knows what to make of it, and for the first time in a very long time so people begin to feel hopeful. The girl's mother comes running to wake her up.
"Look! Look! The refrigerator is full!" They go and look inside. The girl has never seen the refrigerator have any food in it, and yet this morning in the white light there are fruits and vegetables and meat she has never seen.
"Mom! I made a wish last night and it came true!" Her mother hugs her and thinks about all the wishes she has made over the years and laughs. "Let's get you something to eat."
But Japarta wakes up that morning in the world and feels hungrier than ever. It is excruciating. His doctors, who scrape his arteries and perform enemas once a day, have told him that the problem is neurological in origin. Privately, they wonder if he suffered a traumatic brain injury during his younger days in the service. He begins moaning, a deep wail that disrupts the air and shakes the wall of his home. "Where is my food?"
The people who brought him his meals hoping to get scraps do not come -- "Why bother," they ask, "when we have so much food now?" Japarta, waiting for them, suddenly realizes that they were fair-weather friends at best. Loneliness sets in on top of his hunger, and the pain is too much. It builds up inside him and comes out as a sound unlike anything ever heard before. It sends the air rippling in concentric circles all around his body, and out into the world.
Everyone is eating breakfast. The people who bring him his meals laugh, relieved of their obligations, no longer afraid that Japarta will come to eat them. "There is so much food now," they said, "it is impossible he will need to come for us." That is when the wave and explodes their walls to plaster and dust. Everyone in Japarta's home is killed instantly. Every window, every pair of eyeglasses on the continent shatters. Across the seas water is lifted from the ocean and raised into waves that crash on the beaches and shore cities and towns already weakened by decades of hunger. The houses that once held families long forgotten come crashing down.
Some miles from the sea the girl with brown eyes feels a faint rumbling in the earth. "Mom, what's that noise?" They look out the window and see in the distant a great wall of water, full of fish and doors and glass, coming their way.
What does it mean, to make a wish? Japarta has often wished, in the precious few peaceful seconds after a meal, to feel that way forever: sated. People all over the world have wished for food, cures for loneliness, someone or something to hope for. Before Japarta came and ate so much history there was memory of other great unfairnesses: children in cattle cars, diamond dealers taking limbs, unstoppable disease. What could a wish mean in a world where someone is willing to eat it all up?
They watch as the wave hits the shore. Already people were running down the streets, away from the wave and past the house where the mother and her daughter look on from the window. "We have to go. Now," she grabs the girl and they run out the door and into the terrified mob.
"Where are we going," shouts the girl. She cannot hear her reply over the sound of shouts and the rumbling in the earth. Her mother grips her hand tightly. It is a beautiful afternoon sky. Above the bobbing heads the girl sees the moon, already visible above the horizon. She is crying. She doesn't understand why this is happening, or what it meant for her wish to come true if the next day the ocean came and took everyone away. "I wish it would all go back to being normal!" She thinks, hot tears and wind on her face.
As the wave gets closer, the noise of the crowd gets louder and some people fall and shout as they are trampled. The sound in the girl's ears is so much she can't help but try to cover them, and so in an instant she is separated from her mother. Frantically she searches the faces as she runs but they are all strangers, terrified but unfamiliar; so she cries aloud too because it hurts and that's when the air is moved just so.
A vacuum opens where the air had been. Now the cries and tired breaths of the running people open up so many vacuums that the air comes rushing back to fill it, and this happens over and over again until it becomes pattern, which is a wave; and the wave travels back over their heads and makes a sound like nothing anyone has ever heard as it rushes toward the water. For a perfect second there is no noise anywhere in the world at all before the two waves collide and form a standing wave, with one end fixed on Japarta, the other on the girl with brown eyes, and which will spin in place for rest of their lives.