Ah, breakfast. The meal where we break our fast of the night and welcome the new day with foods that we’ve cruelly segregated from the others. A virtual farmyard of foods ranging from the stolen eggs of chickens to the belly of Babe’s mother and possibly the rest of his long lost family. To be honest, you shouldn’t feel bad about that. The rest of those piglets ended up as right jerks. I saw one kick a pigeon once. Just punted it right across the sidewalk. It really caused a scene at the annual Christmas festival that year. Especially since it was right in front of the line for Santa. Also because his family is just genetically delicious or so I’m told.
Breakfast is also a time where one can enjoy the fruits that an underpaid worker probably tended with his own hands. You can almost taste the civil injustice with every sip of my tropical smoothie.
A wonderful concoction of banana and mangoes did I crave as I awoke this morning with bright eyes full of wonderment. Oh happy day! I practically floated into my kitchen and dramatically threw open the cabinet to retrieve my peacock print smoothie cup. A beautiful cup for a beautiful assortment of vitamin c and potassium rich fruits.
I set it aside and prepared myself for the unveiling of the contents of my freezer. With a smile I opened the freezer door to happiness and looked upon my prized smoothie shelf.
My childlike wonder turned to fear as I looked at the frosty and barren shelf. It was like some Arctic tundra and the only thing that survived there were nightmares and stop-animation elves interested in the art of dentistry. I felt the handle slip through my hands as I felt my world crashing around me. I looked at my fruit bowl to see it was empty as well. Was this hell? Had I died during the night and made a wrong turn for heaven where everyone is presented with a Vita-mix upon arrival? Did I make the right turn and this is just my punishment for clicking Reddit links all willy nilly?
I felt my tummy make the rumbles only mangoes could satisfy and apologized to it for letting it down. A small tear escaped my eye and rolled down my cheek. Signifying the loss of innocence as I turned to the pantry.
My eyes noticed the travel sized cup of oatmeal. The elderly man on the packaging seemed to welcome me with his kind eyes and assure me that everything was going to be okay. I grasped “Summer Berry Medley” in my hand and observed the bright berries falling into the golden oats. I had not had oatmeal since I was six and had no memories of my taste for it.
“This shouldn’t be that bad. Looks alright”
I toss it in my purse and get ready for work, thinking I’ll make it when I get there.
Later that day as I sit at my desk, I move my purse out of the way. The oatmeal rolls out and the man with the kind eyes and stylish hat looks at me once again with that Mona Lisa smile. I read the instructions and pop off the lid and remove the plastic. It just looks like cereal.
“It should be fine”, I tell myself allowed.
“What’d you say?” Polly half-yells in between smacks of her breakfast taco of eggs and bacon.
“Oh, just talking to myself. Gonna make this Oa-”
“I can’t stand that stuff, I think it’s got a ton of gluten”, she says as a little dribble of grease drips down her chin and onto her army green tank top.
I don’t say anything I get up and walk to the kitchen, reminding myself to put another tally on the bologna sightings list. It says to put in hot water so I use the water cooler’s hot water tap and fill to the line. It already smells pretty good. A bit like special K if you added more berries.
I replace the lid and set it back on my desk to wait the 3 minutes the instructions tell me to wait. At this moment, I’m excited to try it. Maybe it will bring back some lost childhood memory or I can start eating it more often to add variety in my mornings. I doodle a Tom cat with an eyepatch until the three minutes are up.
I pick up a spoon and open the lid.
“Mother of God.”
Something evil happened to this oatmeal in the darkness of the container. What was once pretty little oats was now a mush of purple and streaks of red with little chunks of God knows what. It looked like something you would feed a baby bird. I stirred. It looked like that time I got sick after Thanksgiving. Strands of slime stuck to the spoon as I withdrew it. I took a small amount onto the tip of the spoon and brought it to my nose.
I gave it a sniff. It smelled the same but just a bit more like damp cardboard or a Burlington Coat Factory. I decided to try a bit and took a nibble. It tasted like what I imagine it feels like to stare death in the face. It felt like being elderly and having my food pre-chewed.
A chalky slime coated the inside of my mouth as I choked it down. This is why I don’t remember eating oatmeal. I had repressed the memory deep in my mind to spare myself the trauma. I replaced the lid and sat there, contemplating all life decisions leading to that moment.
Suddenly the Quaker on the package was no longer smiling. He was smirking and mocking me for my insolence, celebrating tricking another lost soul into eating his rehydrated cat vomit. I saw my life flash before my eyes as I stood over the sink trying to rinse the film from my mouth.