“I don’t understand why you’re worried, Meg. She’s eating okay.”
“Yes, but it’s the effort. I can’t keep up. Last week it was squiggly foods. That wasn’t so bad. I got curly fries and spaghetti and I made squiggly-looking sausage rolls. I persuaded her tomato soup was squiggly by snaking some cream over the top.”
“But you can’t base a balanced diet on a nine-year-old’s whims, Sara.”
“She’s making short work of that pizza.”
“This week it’s round things. Everything on it’s round; tomato slices, onion rings, salami, I even cut the mushrooms across their tops. What next?”
“Square and triangular things should be okay. You can make sandwiches either way, or toast,” said Sara.
“I’m just frightened she’s going to hear about trapeziums or hyper cubes or start to only eating blue things or something equally daft.”
“I’d get some food colourings in, in advance — just to be on the safe side. Have you had a word with the doctor?”
“Yes. He said humour her for the time being. Said it’s a phase. But I think it’s just giving in to her, right?”
“C’mon. I have an idea… Okay if Mummy and Auntie Sara have some tea with you, Paulie?”
Paulie just nodded because her mouth was full of pizza.
“Do you know, I fancy some ice cream, Meg. Have you got any?”
“In the freezer. Vanilla okay?”
“Mmm yes and strawberries?”
“Yes I think so.”
“And a flake. Do you have any flakes?”
“You know I always keep flakes, Sara.”
“Still your favourites… I don’t suppose you have any of those thin…”
“Ice cream wafers that you like? Yes.”
“Oh, let’s go the whole hog and have some nut sprinkles too.”
“No nut sprinkles, I’m afraid.”
“Never mind. I might have a solution in my bag.” Meg produced a giant bar of Toblerone — the kind you get at airports. She broke off two perfect nutty triangles.
Paulie’s eyes opened ever wider with each addition to the desserts. First an irregular mound of ice cream, then heart-shaped sections of luscious strawberries, long splintery shards of milk chocolate flake and crispy rectangular wafers, Toblerone dark as a mountaintop peeking out from snow.
“What are you having for dessert, Paulie?” said Meg, taking her first spoonful.
Sara seized her cue. “How about a sliced banana or a nice apple?”
“Maybe…” said Paulie. “I think… Maybe I could eat things that aren’t round, just for dessert…”
Oonah V Joslin is Managing Editor at Every Day Poets. Credits include 3 Micro Horror prizes, an honorable mention in The binnacles Shorts Poetry comp 2009, Inclusion in several anthologies, A Man of Few Words, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 and 2009 and Toe Tags. Read her at Static Movement, The Shine Journal, A View From Here, The Ranfurly Review 10FLASH Quarterly and many other places. Other work including her Novella, A Genie in a Jam, can be found at Bewildering Stories. The list is updated in The Vaults at Parallel Oonahverse and on her Facebook. Oonah’s ambition is to have a book published.