One of the things I most enjoy about these short writing exercises is that even the most unpromising prompt can sometimes produce a tiny, complete story.
“A fruit party?”
“A fruit party?”
“And that’s what, exactly?”
“It’s a party. With fruit.”
“Just fruit? I mean, no little extras to brighten it up, like… oh, I don’t know, great slabs of beef or heaps of prawns or even… god forbid, gallons of wine?”
“No, it’s part of this health kick thing.”
“Kick is exactly what I want to do to Sarah. I mean, how could she?”
We both sighed and peered towards where the school doors were finally opening, releasing clumps of over-excited toddlers out to the loudly instructing parents all around us.
“Come here Ryan. Now.”
“Felice, leave that babe, it’s dirty.”
“I’ll smack your legs Keira!”
Nicky’s daughter Louise came skipping over and we started threading our way through the mountains of flesh in sports clothes blocking our way to the gate.
As we negotiated the reefs of lard, I wondered what this lot would make of someone inviting them to a fruit party. Probably much the same as me.
I’d been happy for Sarah to start with, when she and Roger first got into this health thing. I knew she’d been worried about him. At 35, Sarah’s husband had looked a good 15 years older and he practically got out of breath turning over the steaks on the barbecue when it was their turn to be hosts.
But now they’d apparently both turned vegan (thank you very much, Cowspiracy), and so we all had to suffer along with them.
“Maybe Ben’ll be away, or working or something, and we won’t be able to go”, I said, brightening.
“He’s already accepted for both of you”, said Nicky, as we finally squeezed through the school gates and out onto a pavement reduced to a third of its normal width by parked parent-mobiles.
“Him and Jason bet each other they wouldn’t accept. And so they both have, and we’re both going as well, apparently.”
“I’ll bloody throttle him. A quick imaginary seminar in Inverness and we’d have been sorted. And now we’ve got to go round to Sarah and Roger’s and watch them gorging themselves on melon and strawberries without even a decent Chardonnay to wash it all down.”
“Carrot juice”, said Nicola glumly. “Or beetroot. It was in the email.”
“I wish I was.”