Draft fiction: Pea story

A draft fiction, let me know what you think @jordanjmcdowell


He moved his peas around with his fork. They tumbled around on the plate, rolling over one other and then back again. The pointed ends of the fork scratched the plate and he saw her wince. The screech zig-zagged from the plate, bouncing off the walls of the narrow room. She stared at him with a mouth full of mash potato. She couldn’t say anything without mash foaming out at the sides of her mouth, so she just stared. She spoke with only the crook of her neat, fine eyebrows. A pea fell off the plate. She swallowed hard and pushed the lumpy mash down her throat, “James, what’s the matter? Don’t you like your peas?”

“Just not hungry”,

“Don’t be silly James, eat up” She said irritably whilst bowing her head back to her magazine and shovelling a gravy soaked sausage end into her mouth. She always used OXO gravy granules. She liked the adverts, Lynda Bellingham was her favourite. She liked that she could control a family with a slurp of hot stock from a Pyrex jug and a flirtatious look at her randy husband. She didn’t have a co-star in this kitchen. Another fell over the side. She didn’t notice though.

They were garden peas. Small plump little peas from a polyethylene bag in the freezer. He liked to stab them with his fork and watch them turn themselves inside out. They popped like he imagined eyeballs did, suddenly, and from a small opening that pushed the insides out like puss from a spot. His carrots were starting to stick together. She glazed them in honey because someone on This Morning told her to. “Won’t that be different James?” she had said.

They weren’t real carrots anyway. They were those powdery ones that come tinned. Triangle shaped and traffic cone orange. He thought of the traffic cones he passes on his way to school. They’re always dotted around the road after the drunkards play Chess with them at 3am. They’re sticky too, with piss and vomit.

She was eating with her head resting in her left hand, eyes cast down toward a magazine. She would read, chew, blink and flick the pages without making any expression. She just soaked in the shit like her Yorkshire pudding soaked in the gravy. He imagined the food sat in her stomach. The aftermath of a car accident. A road of mash strewn with eye balls, traffic cones, meat and gravy. He stabbed a pea.

His speckled mash looked like wall paper paste. She’d made it from Smash and tossed a few dried herbs into the pan as she stirred in the water, “Just nice to add a little colour, James!”

He sculpted his pile of mash into a peak. A Snowdonia with flecks of herby vegetation. She hated it when he played with his food. By using the back of his fork he smoothed the mash into a mountain and the prongs gave nice detail on the surface. It looked like one of the diagrams in his Geography book. By delicately nudging the carrots onto their end and sticking them in base of the mashy mountain, he was able to erect little orange buildings. She had lined the carrots up on his plate with all their wider ends facing the same way, so this task was easy. The peas made perfect villagers. The sausages were discarded, along with the soggy Yorkie, to the side of the plate to play the part of distant peaks in the mountainous landscape. Quite the picturesque settlement.

“Mum, may I have some more gravy?” Her head darted up from her magazine once more but this time her face was stretched into a toothy grin. Pink lipstick stuck to her front two teeth.

“Really?”

“Yes, please”, she hadn’t noticed the mountain village newly discovered on her kitchen table. She pushed her slight frame off her chair, both hands on the table top. Turning behind her, she stretched her arms out and strode the two steps the kitchen worktop. She looked like one of the kids in the infant’s school, when they were playing kiss chase. The little girls would run with their arms stretched out in front of them and their slobbery chins barely off the floor, propelled by an urge they didn’t yet understand. She held the Pyrex jug in both hands. Walking towards the table, towards his chair, her eyes concentrated on the brown slime in her jug. A skin had formed on the surface.

“Just on my mash please, right in the middle, there, in the hole”. She had to look now. The sides of her fuchsia lips sank and her grin dissolved. He was glad she put the gravy down before she hit him. He didn’t fancy his chances against the Pyrex jug. She belted him across the forehead with the back of her hand so the rings and bangles she got from the market had added effect. The clang of her wrist as it ricocheted off his skull sounded like sleigh bells.

“You’re a fucking freak James!” she screamed, fuchsia spit flying all over his face as she bent down and glared in his swollen eye. She turned and set off out the room, picking up her magazine en route. She’d now go and chain smoke, cry, scream and listen to Dolly Parton in the front room.

He picked up the Pyrex jug, it taking a little more concentration than usual because he was still a little dizzy, and poured the lukewarm stock into the crater on-top of his mountain. The brown sludge ran down the sides and flooded the mountain village with molten lava. He heard the screams as villagers ran from their homes. Heard the little peas gurgle as they drowned in the hot sticky flood. The gravy even spilled over the sides of the plate. She’d hate that.

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