Every Tuesday, I spend thirty minutes writing on a prompt. Two other writers do this with me, and we send each other our ficlets and comment on them. It’s a fun, low-pressure way to get in a little extra writing.
This week’s didn’t go as well as I would have liked, at least in terms of producing something that felt like a complete scene/story. I also forgot to include one of the required elements. But I think there are a couple of funny moments. And that opening line, well, it comes from personal experience …
Prompt: Write a story or scene that includes the following—white paint peeling; dialogue with an inanimate object
The ice cream said, “Go on, have a taste. You know I’m delicious.” The frost on the carton glistened suggestively.
I swallowed hard and averted my eyes. “I’m just here for the carrots,” I muttered, then bit my lip in consternation. I can’t stop the food from talking, but I usually try not to talk back. For one thing, responding encourages them. For another, if any of my coworkers overheard, it would let the cat out of the crazy bag and get me fired. Working as a prep chef at Fred’s All American Cuisine isn’t much of a job, but at the moment, there are no other prospects on my horizon.
I grabbed a massive bag of frozen, precut carrots out of the giant plastic bin against the back wall and scurried back out of the walk-in freezer. The carrots, at least, were silent. Frozen foods are until they’ve thawed, unless they’re meant to be eaten frozen, like the ice cream.
I bitterly recounted all the jobs I might have had instead of working in a place that surrounds me with food every day, all day: receptionist, janitor, copy machine repair person. But there just aren’t many opportunities in a town this small for a girl with no education past high school and no family connections to bump her to the front of the applicant line. Most people prefer to hire their relatives—I’m just lucky Fred’s niece decided to move to Atlanta and left him in the lurch.
Back at the range, I dumped the carrots into the enormous pot of boiling water and gritted my teeth. The screams started twenty seconds later.
I don’t remember for sure which vegetable first thought it would be funny to pretend they could feel themselves being scalded, but now they all do it. Vegetables are like sheep—if one of them manages to come up with an original idea, the rest of them seize it and stomp all the juice out of it until its as shriveled as a five-year-old raisin.
“Heeeey, goin’ my way, sexy?” A tall cart loaded with rolls wolf-whistled as I hurried past. The bread is always fresh.
Trying to get back to my carrots before they boiled to mush, I almost ran into Marlene, Fred’s daughter-in-law and waitress.
She grabbed my arm. “Belinda, can you please take out this next order? I’ve just got to sit down for a minute.” Marlene was seven months pregnant and having trouble getting her XXL uniform shirt to close over her belly.
I gestured toward to the industrial range. “I’ve got carrots cooking.”
“I’ll watch them.”
Unable to come up with a good excuse to tell the pregnant lady no, I reluctantly untied my apron and made sure my khaki uniform shirt was tucked into my black pants. I hate going into the dining room. When the food talks to me from inside other people’s mouths, I just want to retch. Really, it was getting so that I could hardly eat anymore.
I picked up the next order—a massive tray loaded down with a cheeseburger, cheesy fries, and Fred’s famous two-foot-chili-cheese-dog. Someone out there had a thing for cheese.
I actually don’t mind cheese as much as some of the food. Dairy, on the whole, is a mild-mannered food group.