Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Junk Food (08/30/12)
TITLE: Living in Lollipop Land
By Myrna Noyes
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The boy reached upwards, smiling in ecstasy. "I knew they'd be ripe about now." He sank his teeth into a fat, red plum. The sweet juice dripped down his chin, and he licked his lips so as not to lose anymore than he had to. "I've waited so long for these!"
After consuming several more, he began to carefully fill his bag. Then keeping to the shadows, he made his way home again. This went on the next four nights, but on the fifth, as he was climbing back in through his bedroom window, the overhead light suddenly flicked on, flooding his room and exposing him.
An angry man yanked him through the window and into the center of the room. The bag was taken from him and the plums were dumped on the floor.
His mother cried, "Jacob, don't tell me you're planning to eat that horrible stuff! You know we don't let you have junk food!"
His father retrieved the plums. "These are going in the trash where they belong! We expect you to eat doughnuts, pie, lollipops, French fries, and ice cream like everyone else! Your schoolteachers have taught you the importance of abundant amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium in your diet. Why aren't you listening to them? Now get in bed, and I do not want to find you sneaking around eating this garbage again!"
Alone in the dark, Jacob cried into his pillow. "I just don't understand," he whispered. "Why is something so delicious bad for me?"
He had tasted his first fruit a couple autumns previous when he'd discovered a neglected apple tree in a friend's back pasture. The tree was a remnant of a much earlier landowner. Garrett's family raised pigs and cattle, but would never have thought of growing produce.
Jacob had seen roundish red fruit hanging from the branches and asked Garret, "What're these things?"
"Oh, they're called abbles, I think. After awhile they fall off, shrivel up, and rot. People used to eat them a long time ago, but we never touch them!"
Curious, Jacob picked one. It smelled sweet and looked intriguing, so he took a tentative bite when Garrett wasn't looking. I can spit it out if it's horrible. To his surprise it was delicious--in a manner unlike anything else he'd ever tasted. His usual meals of cake, tater tots, pudding, potato chips, and candies often left him feeling "heavy" and sluggish, but this was juicy, light, and fresh-tasting! After that, whenever he could he sneaked a few "abbles" into his pockets to eat later.
Jacob found an internet site where he could buy vegetable seeds and had ordered some. He read up on how to grow them and cleared a sunny space in the woods. He made sure he got to the mailbox first until they arrived and then secretly planted, tended, and enjoyed the produce.
The morning after his parents "busted" him, Jacob was looking for a missing sock, when he found a lone plum that had rolled unnoticed under the bed. He ate it in his closet with tears rolling down his cheeks.
Later, just as the family finished their breakfast of "Triple-Sugar Crunchies, soda pop, and pastries, Jacob's father cleared his throat and spoke, "Son, Mother and I are worried about your fascination with fruits and vegetables. We've decided to send you to "Edible Plants Anonymous." At these meetings you'll have to confess to being a health-a-holic, and we hope it'll help you break this bad habit before it ruins you."
His parents even made him visit a doctor, who examined him closely. "Boy, you're just not pale enough! Your cheeks have an odd rosy glow, and your eyes are bright. Also, you should either be sickly and scrawny or overweight and out-of-shape like other children, but instead you're unnaturally healthy. You don't even have diabetes! It's shameful that you still have all your own teeth, too, instead of nice fake ones like normal people. I'm putting you on a strict diet of deep-fried foods, fatty meats, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, and chemicals!"
Right then Jacob's eyes lost their offending brightness and his face grew suitably pale.
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