Monday, January 30, 2012

"An Unusual Lunch" by Estefania Zavala

The screeches woke her up as they did every morning. They were screams of purest fear and abject terror. Her little brother, Henry, was having a tough time adjusting to kindergarten.

She scurried out of bed, hoping against hope that a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios swimming with orange juice (his favorite) would quiet him down. For once, the endeavor was successful and she helped her harried mother mangle him into a car seat.

She arrived at school early, tripping on the bike rack -- as she always did. The cut on her knee re-opened and she cursed/limped all the way to the office where she obtained a band-aid that was very grudgingly given.

She thought about the stinginess of the office aides and composed cutting speeches aimed at them for the rest of the morning.

For lunch, she chose the same kind of grilled cheese sandwich as always and thought the same kind of thoughts as always: she considered dyeing her hair; she dismissed the idea.

There was a silence within the cafeteria. The lull caused her to look up.

It was the most bizarre thing she had ever seen. It was some sort of a man, as near as she could tell. He was walking on his hind legs, at least. He appeared to have the head of a cat -- and the body of a bear. But he was a soft shade of purple. He had two giant black discs for eyes and no other facial features.

As extraordinary as this creature, however, was what he cradled in his giant lavender arms. Her little brother, Henry.

"Hello, Natalie," said her brother with imperial coolness not usually displayed by five-year-olds.

"Hello," she replied faintly.

"Please inform Mother that I won't be home for dinner tonight," he said. Natalie wondered where his lisp had gone. "I won't be home for quite some time, in fact. I enjoy your company and Honey Nut Cheerios but I have found the indignities of kindergarten too foul to suffer."

She nodded -- as though this was the sort of thing her brother said all the time. The monster's black discs glittered curiously.

"Well, I'm afraid Mr. Garrison and I must be leaving," Henry said. She realized "Mr. Garrison" was the monster clutching him. With a swift command from her brother, he began to lumber out of the cafeteria.

Her brother turned back to see all the panicking people and sent her a look of utmost pity. "I'll come back for you when I can," he said.