I wanted to squeeze in a quick flash fiction piece before work today, just to keep the flow of work going on my blog. I’m using a “non-traditional” prompt today. It comes from a Tumblr blog geared towards character development.
Prompt: What is your character’s favorite comfort food?
I watch the rain outside with a frown on my face. The unfortunate thing about a rainy day is that it prevents me from working. As a landscaper, I need the skies clear in order to do what I do best. Since the weather doesn’t pass the test, I have to stay home and lose out on some cash. This makes four days in a row, now, that I haven’t been able to work at all. If I don’t work, I can’t get paid. And if I don’t get paid then those bills that are weeping on my counter… They’re mad at me! I can’t hear them.
Just then my sister texts me, reminding me to eat lunch on her. She slipped me a twenty when I stopped by for dinner yesterday. I was talking about the work week, and the bills, and the banks being awful – and she said that she was going to grab a couple drinks after work with the girls. She followed that by saying I deserved a good meal. I didn’t want to take it but I had to do it. If I turned her down, she would have taken it personally.
Everyone in my family takes gestures of the monetary sort personally.
There’s a beautiful bakery up the street that is joined with a family run café that I just love. I could eat there twice if I wanted to, but that’s exactly the problem. I do not want to go there today. I don’t even know that I’d want to go there tomorrow. That’s a place I visit when I am happy, when things are going good. Right now everything seems to be falling apart around me.
So as I stand with my face pressing against the window – I don’t even remember leaning against the glass, but apparently I’ve made myself comfortable there – and I consider what I should eat for lunch. What does one eat when life has decided to take the dark path through the woods? Chili? Macaroni? Hot dogs? Ramen noodles?
“Broccoli and cheese.” I decide. I know it’s not from scratch but I have a microwave dinner in the freezer from last week that I never got around to – last week was definitely a bakery and café week. Going through the motions carelessly and wearily, I find that I am cheered up just slightly after I heard the whirring of the microwave.
My mother used to give all of us kids broccoli and cheese on Mondays after school. With five kids, of course she would have to do anything just to make us calm down after the first day back to school in the week. Oh, how rowdy we could get! My two oldest brothers would wrestle in the foyer, and my two sisters would like chase me through the house playing ‘Tammy Tara Tina Tag.” Those, of course, are all our names. Our brothers are Thomas and Theodore.
The microwave dings, the smell of almost burnt cheese wafts out and grabs my heart. My parents were also “T” people. Tamara and Tyler. We were doing the “same first letter of our first ahem” thing before the Kardashians. We are twice as entertaining and only half as crazy. Someone should give my family a television show.
That would certainly help my financial struggles.
During my consideration of the alternate reality where my family is famous for reality television, I dump my broccoli and cheese into a tupperware container that is actually an old ice cream tub. I also swipe a fork from my drawer. It’s the last one clean. The smell of the steamed broccoli finally permeates the cheese, its earthy and salty. Microwave food is notoriously bad for being salty to help preserve the foods long beyond their normal life span.
But I don’t care, because it tastes fine. The first bite is always weird, especially if I haven’t ate it for a long time. By the third bite, I’m every bit as melted as the cheese. Just ooey-gooey insides and warm coursing through my veins. I barely even noticed that I’ve settled into my blanket on the couch. Halfway through my dish, if any Chef would allow me to properly call a microwaveable meal a dish, I move around to pull the blanket all the way up over me.
“Food as comfortable as a blanket.” Mhmm, it sure is.
Maybe tomorrow the sun will shine and I can go to the bakery to celebrate the clear skies!