Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Fiction: First Day on my Mom's diet

: Bear was feeling kind of down in the dumps yesterday, so decided to work on a humor piece, instead of getting back to rewriting next installment of the book. This one was also a re-write, but needed a lot of work. And it did cheer her up quite a bit, reading it and re-reading it, as she wrote. It's a piece she wrote years ago, and was fun to bring to life again. Bear doesn't know what she'll do with it yet -- might turn it into a book, or make it a stand-alone piece, with just a little more added to it.

It's a fictional account of a teenager with health problems dealing with a Mother who's determined to have her go through with the Gerson diet. (The Gerson diet is a diet sometimes used by cancer patients and people with other illneses of similar severity, in a health food attempt at putting the illness into remission. It involves drinking freshly made vegetable juice every hour or two throughout the day, along with some cooked broths and very limited soft foods. It is a very labor-intensive diet, as well as extremely tough to follow.)


I slammed the front door without thinking, then jumped at the bang it made and the rattle of windows. A couple CD's fell off their stand with a clatter.

"Trace, is that you?" Mom called.

Dumping my backpack on the couch, I slipped out of my jacket and tossed it on top, then headed into the kitchen.

She was bent over the sink, scrubbing carrots, a mountain of them piled on the counter next to her. Strands of blond hair had escaped her pony tail and fallen in front of her eyes, and there were orange splatters all over her apron. I dropped into one of the chairs by the table, closing my eyes tight, feeling a hundred years old.

The kitchen used to be my favorite hang-out after school. There'd always be some "healthy" munchies waiting for me on the top shelf of the fridge. A granola bar, or on better days, cookies. Mom had found a little health food store with really huge peanut butter cookies that were actually pretty good, even with the honey instead of real sugar. And their carob cookies tasted sorta like chocolate. They weren't Oreos by a long shot, but at least they were cookies, and were better after I zapped them in the microwave a few seconds -- warm and sweet smelling. It had been nice to sit around with the sun shining through the windows and Mom puttering around while she fixed dinner...

Until now.

I sighed. So tired... Always so tired. My arms and legs felt limp, kinda like spaghetti, without strength.

"So how'd the first day go with the diet?" Mom asked, raising her voice over the sound of running water and the crunch-swish of her brush moving back and forth across the carrots. "From the way you slammed the door, it doesn't sound that great."

"Sorry." I felt my face heating up. I really hadn't meant to slam it.

I was sick of carrots already. Figured I'd be seeing them in my dreams that night, even. Orange piles of them everywhere. They'd come to life and chase me through the halls at school with fiendish cackles of glee, waving vegetable peelers in their orange, carroty hands, chanting, "Kill the human! Peel and chop. Grind, grind, grind. Juice her! Yes! Juice her...Juice..."

Running my fingertip over the flower-bordered tablecloth, I began drawing lines and squiggles -- soon found myself writing, 'grind, grind, grind'...

I shook my head, snapping myself out of it, and went and looked in the fridge, wondering if this diet had any sort of snack at all worth munching on.

The upper shelf was empty.

"Don't you do it!" Mom's carrot brushing picked up speed. "It's not time for you to eat anything again yet. We need to get some more fresh juice down you first. Just give me a sec here -- Almost got enough together to run through for a cup."

Sighing, I sat back down, crossed my arms, and stared at her back. Nothing smelled good in here today, that was for sure.

She grabbed a handful of clean carrots and stepped over to the juicer, flipping a switch. It came to life with a buzz. The growl it made rose in pitch and volume as she fed in the first one, shoving it through the tall spout on top. The carrot slowly disappeared into the grinder. Mashed up pulp started spewing out of what looked like a long nose on the front of the juicer, landing in a bowl she'd put there to catch it. A big fluffy orange pile started growing and juice began squirting out from the bottom of the machine into a pan underneath, sending a few occasional spits at Mom.

After a few minutes at it, she took out a metal strainer and poured the juice through it into a cup, sifting out the last of the pulp. Finally done, she gave the mug to me with a flourish. It had taken five carrots to fill it. I counted.

That's when she first caught sight of my face.

"As bad as all that?" She wiped her hands on the dishtowel tucked in her belt.

I took a deep breath, downed a gulp, and grimaced as carroty sweetness hit my tongue for the sixth time that day.

The scene in the lunchroom flashed in my mind -- Martha and Gretchen looking so grossed out, staring at the juice in shock. "That's your lunch?"

I blinked, to clear the memory.

Now, setting down the mug hard, I took another deep breath. Trying to chill. But before I could stop myself, I was crying, tears running down my cheeks. It was then I smelled the potatoes and onions from the soup that was beginning to heat on the stove. Potato soup for dinner. Maybe some oatmeal to top it off with, if I was lucky. I got up and grabbed Kleenex from the shelf behind me, turning my back to her, and folded my arms against my chest to try and stop trembling.

"I'm sorry, Trace. But, really. It couldn't have been as bad as all that, could it?"

I kicked my foot against the dishwasher's door behind me, and then whirled around to face her. "Everyone thinks the new diet is so lame! They can't believe I'm drinking and eating this stuff, and neither can I."

"Come on. Don't tell me you're going to let a few comments from people bother you so much. I'm sure your real friends will understand."

I glared at her. Slowly she sunk into a chair on the other side of the table, blue eyes worried.

"It's my friends I'm tellin' you about! No one else even knows about it yet, thank the Lord." I could feel my heart sinking even as I said it, though. I hadn't thought about the others yet. What were Jim and Tyler gonna think? And Max . . . Oh, that dude would run with it, all right. I didn't even want to think about --

"Come on Hon," She was trying to put on a smile, but didn't quite make it. "Sit down. Your friends will come around in time. It's just new to them, same as for you. They'll get used to it. Why, I'll bet they'll be encouraging you along before you know it. Especially once they see you're determined to stick with it."

I sat, elbows on either side of the juice cup, holding my head with both hands, gazing down into its orangeness. Knowing I was supposed to drink it within the first few minutes after it was made, to get the most vitamins, I forced myself to pick up the cup, and chugged it down, getting it over with, just stopping to breathe once in the middle. It's not that it tasted so bad. It's just that I saw hundreds of cups like it lined up in endless rows... thousands... millions. My eyes moved to the huge pile of carrots waiting on the counter.

"Mom, how many carrots am I going to end up drinking, anyway? Those all can't be for tonight, can they?"

She'd brightened at the sight of me finishing the juice. "It is a lot." Putting her hands behind her head and rolling her shoulders a bit, stretching, she chuckled. "I was surprised too. It actually comes to about fifty pounds a week. And that doesn't include all the greens and other veggies that go into the juice. You should've seen ol' Mr. Grayson's face when I wheeled the basket loaded with all those five pound bags of carrots to his register. It was too funny."

"Fifty pounds a week?" I tried adding it up in my head, then mentally crossed out the numbers and re-added... erased, added one more time... "Mom, you can't be serious. That's 2600 pounds of carrots a year. Get real! I'm gonna drink 2600 pounds of carrots a year, for two years? Mom, that's more than two and a half tons of carrots. I'll turn orange! I'll die."

Smiling, she got up and went back to the sink where she began to scrub carrots again. "Oh don't be getting all dramafied." The little brush went crunch-swish, crunch-swish for a bit. Then she said, "But, now that you mention it, I did mean to warn you about that little detail."

"What?" I blew my nose, and chucked the balled up Kleenex into the trash can.

She didn't answer.

My heartbeat picked up speed. "Warn me about what?"

"Well... I don't want you to be worried about this, Hon. But it's actually possible your skin might start to turn, well... just a little bit orange."

"What?" My mouth dropped open. "You can't be serious! I was just kidding... Y-you're joking too, right?"

"Don't worry. It'll only be temporary while your liver detoxes some."

"I'm going to turn orange? ORANGE?

That's when Dad walked in, gave Mom a kiss, and grabbed one of those big cookies out of the fridge. I could smell the peanut butter from it as he breezed past me, and wondered where he'd found it.

"Who's turning orange?" He winked at me, pulling off his baseball cap and tossing it onto a hook in the corner where it swung back and forth for a few seconds before settling. He made the shot two days out of three, and this was my cue to shout "Two points!" Raising an eyebrow when I didn't, he ran a hand through his brown hair, with its beginning streaks of gray, deliberately mussing it into comical clumps.

I didn't even crack a grin. "Dad, how could you?"

"How could I what?" He leaned down to pull off his muddy work shoes with one hand, the cookie still clasped in the other. Jerking them off without untying them, he tossed them in the corner below where the hat was hanging.

I rolled my eyes. "I'm supposed to live on carrot juice while you're eating cookies right in front of me? Where's your heart? And where'd you find that cookie? I swear, it wasn't in the fridge when I looked."

He grinned, leaning against the counter below the microwave. "Your mother tipped me off last night, on where they'd be. And my heart's where it's always been, Trace. It's just that we all can't be on your diet."

I crossed my arms. "Why not? Ya know Dad, the doctor did say you should, like, lose a few pounds, with your cholesterol being so high and all. Remember? This would be a great diet for you, for sure. Bet you'd be skin and bones in no time."

End of Chapter

Catrina Bradley over at A Work In Progress is hosting Fiction Friday this week. So be sure and drop over there as well, to find links to the whole selection of entries by Christian writers, and/or to add a link of your own and join in the fun! We all welcome comments and discussion!
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den


Brian the old man said...

I really enjoyed this! My favorite line is "I'll turn orange! I'll die." I started laughing and then felt sorry for her as her mother explained it could really happen. Excellent story!

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Heehee! What a hilarious piece! I felt a little bad for Tracey, because I've been on that carrot juice thing for health reasons of my own. It is DEFINITELY not fun and is never sweet--the carrots that come in the #25 bags are worse. heehee. I can't wait to see her dad roped into the diet, that would be a hoot! Good job with the characters--I really liked Tracey. ^_^

Mari said...

I don't think I'd make it on that diet. Ugh. I think I'd be really irritated if my dad sat and ate a cookie in front of me with no guilt.

Great smooth writing.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Poor Trace! I related to her on every level, and I'm far from being a teenager! I think her dad should be carrotized too! Fun read!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your story! When I came to the end of the chapter I was bummed! Since I am such an anti veggie person. I could sure feel her pain! I couldn't wait to see if her dad would end up on the carrot diet!

joanc said...

A VERY late comment, Bear. I'm so out of touch with all my FW friends and reading. This was so well written - I could almost taste that horrible juice, feel her exhaustion and sense how desperately her mom wanted her to succeed. Lovely!

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