Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Expire (08/01/13)
TITLE: Best Before
By Christina Banks
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Perhaps the cupboard held more promise. Three cases of Ramen Noodles and a jar of peanut butter. Ramen might work fine for Stewart, especially with his flu. However, after consuming that stuff nearly every day during grad school, I refused to eat Ramen ever again. Maybe there was something else. I pushed the cases aside. Hidden in the back of the cupboard was a box of pancake mix and some syrup. Perfect. Pancakes would work.
I searched high and low, but the only fry pan was sitting in the sink caked with who knows what. I rolled up my sleeves with a sigh. I might as well get to the job. From the sounds of retching down the hall, I knew Stewart wouldn’t be ready to eat right away.
After organizing the mountain of dishes, I pulled the trash can up to the refrigerator and began dumping out the living contents so I could wash the containers. I was going to need some really hot water to sanitize this stuff.
Half way through the job, Stewart staggered into the kitchen wiping his mouth with his hand. He pulled a dirty glass off the counter and filled it with water. When he’d rinsed and spit, he turned to me.
“What are you doing?” He pointed to the cheese I had suspended over the trash. “I was going to eat that.”
“So what. I like it that way.”
“I can see that.” I put my hands on my hips. “You are absolutely disgusting.”
Stewart’s face turned the same shade of green as the cheese in my hand. The panic in his eyes warned me to step out of the way as he added the contents of his stomach to the trash can. I found a clean dish cloth and ran it under the tap. After ringing it out, I handed it to him.
“Thanks, Sis,” he mumbled. “I hate having the flu.”
If it was the flu. I was starting to have my doubts. Food poisoning seemed likely. “Why don’t you just go rest on the couch?”
He stumbled away, leaving me to my job. After pulling out everything that past its “best before” date, I wiped down the shelves and returned the mustard and ketchup to their place in the door. Even the pickles had been thrown out. Maybe I’d run to the grocery store after I made the pancakes. Stewart needed to eat something besides Ramen.
Stewart was sprawled on the couch when I went to check on him a few moments later. His soft snore filled the small room. I grabbed the dirty dishes around the apartment and took them back to the sink. Making the water as hot as I could stand, I filled the sink with soap and dishes. Humming to myself I made short work of the mountain.
With a sense of accomplishment I placed the last dried pan into its place. I was starving and those pancakes sounded really good. I pulled a fresh mixing bowl off the shelf and poured some pancake mix in. I was about to add the water when I saw the mix move. I leaned in for a closer look and shuddered. It was crawling with weevils.
Dumping the box and mix in the trash, I quickly washed the bowl. I grabbed my purse and jacket and I walked over to the couch. When I touched Stewart’s shoulder he snuffled awake.
“Leaving already?” He asked groggily.
“Just to get something to eat.” I put a fresh glass of water on the table beside him.
“Sure is nice to have a woman around here.” He smiled, closing his eyes again. “I’m thinking I best start thinking about finding me a wife.”
“I think you need to get better first.” I patted his arm before turning to the door.
As I thought about what a mess Stewart was I realized getting a wife might not be as easy as he thought. But he best, before he poisons himself again. Heaven knows I don’t want to clean up a disaster like that again.
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