Login   Sign Up 


2:30pm Lunch

by PorkPieSalad 

Posted: 10 August 2011
Word Count: 2120
Summary: Unfinished short story. It's the first I have attempted and I'm looking for a bit feedback.

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

As I sat down, Caroline had already started to eat her lunch. I had been forced into grabbing something quick from the canteen as I’d left my own food on the kitchen bench, for the third time this week. These new early shifts were beginning to take their toll. I could see that Caroline was beginning to unwrap a Mars Bar, whilst putting aside a transparent Tupperware container. I could barely see what sort of food was in it, and I have to admit, I was even less interested.

“Hey” I said, sitting down. I placed my tray down on the table. Upon it rolled a sorry looking baguette, firmly cocooned in cling film with a star-shaped ‘Tuna Crunch’ sticker happily tagged onto it. The lady at the counter had apologised for the lack of the usual red onions inside. The delivery had been short, apparently. Sadly, nothing with any crunchy properties had made it through the gauntlet that was the City of Sunderland’s catering distribution channels, so it was just Tuna & Mayonnaise. They “didn’t have a sticker” for that, she said. “You could have just written ‘Surprise’ underneath in felt tip” I suggested.

“Hiya” said Caroline, through her Mars bar, and to her magazine. “What did you get?” she asked. I explained, cautiously, feeling that she had actually asked the man in the article she was engrossed with, who was taught to dance by Michael Jackson’s ghost. It turned out she hadn’t, she just couldn’t be bothered to lift her face to speak.

Safe in the knowledge that none of my sarcasm or whimsy that I’d laced my baguette adventure with had been anticipated or recognised by Caroline, I scanned the empty canteen. I worked in one of Sunderland’s many call centres, or contact centres if you were for management. There was always a pay-grade in the hierarchy of a call centre, where it became a necessity to refer to it as a contact centre. It was my guess that this was just managerial, self-affirming bullshit, and it seemed to me that those who maintained the call centre stance were often those who were the Outsiders. Anyway, since the closure of the pits and the shipyards, these centres of communication for businesses were sadly now Sunderland’s major employers. They ranged from mobile phone services, banks, Royal Mail. The list was endless. My current place of employment was TeleCall, a leading mobile phone company. And I was choc-full of useless information about mobile phones.

We were sitting alone in the massive 150-seat canteen. Unwrapping my baguette from it’s casing, I eyed the rest of Caroline’s lunch. “What you got in there then, Salad?”
“Yeah, man…Salad. Boring, eh?” she grumbled. “It’s a Green-day on this new diet I’m on”
Caroline was always on a new diet.
“Wow” I always struggled to hide my disinterest. “What kind of salad?” I asked, hoping that I wouldn’t need to say anything further. I’d just let her get on with it while I got stuck into my lunch.
“Pork pie.”
“…Ugh?” was all I could muster. I didn’t have time to register what she had said, close my mouth and form an adequate response. However, I felt it covered all bases well.
“It’s a Pork pie salad.” She confirmed. “Green days allow me a little protein each day” She said with out blinking an eye. My response was, apparently, fully comprehensive.

“How’s yours?” she asked looking at me strangely. I realised then that I still had my mouth open. My tuna lunch was still aimed at, but not quite in, my mouth.
“Oh, yeah. It’s great” I said, without having taken a bite. I coolly began to eat it.

Lost in a world of pie-based salads, I had entered, momentarily, into a state of mental paralysis. It sort of makes sense that you can look at someone in disbelief with your mouth closed for as long as you like, really. But, if you compare the same stare with an open-mouthed one, or at least if it hangs loose a little, the stare seems to backfire, and you look a little simple.

I continued to eat my lunch, gaining more enjoyment from the reduction in hunger rather than the delicious offering itself. A point was reached when I had to decide whether or not to continue trying to make small talk with Caroline or whether to just go off into a daydream. I figured that I had to decide whether or not I was bothered if Caroline thought I was a) boring b) miserable or c) boring and miserable. Basically, I thought, I’m not fucking bothered, either way. It wasn’t that I disliked her, I just didn’t care and more importantly, neither did she. She was far too wrapped up reading about the woman whose husband came back to her in the form of the Christmas turkey. They subsequently re-married, if you’re interested. I took a sneak peak.

And then it happened. Quietly pleased with myself for making the right choice, I began enjoying my lunch a little more. I spotted a good bit of baguette. Sitting in front of my face was a reasonably sized, tuna filled segment of the slightly soggy sub. It began calling my name. I ploughed straight into it, as if I were a Tudor Duke tearing mutton from the bone. It was mine. At this point, a portal to another, parallel universe began to open with within my head. My skull split both horizontally and vertically simultaneously. Huge flying, spikey-cogged warships, manned at battle stations and willingly opening fire maniacally, emerged from my mouth. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

With hindsight, this initial response may have been a little dramatic. In actual fact what I’d later find out was, that I’d split my tooth.

The pain was only fully realised after what seemed like a few seconds. What made it worse was the unexpectedness, the naivety that comes with the missing of a stair on staircase, or walking into a glass door. In my mind I had no reason to imagine that I would find an immoveable obstacle lurking within my lunch, so bit down accordingly, with the unflinching expectation of encountering precisely zero obstacles.

As the pain seared through my head like a bolt of lightening, I shot upright, holding my face and spinning almost 360 degrees whilst rising. It was as if my head were an untied balloon, fully inflated and set loose. At the same time, the noise I made sounded uncannily like the noise made when someone lets the same air out the same balloon very slowly by gripping the end. This was a bad combination. Certainly, this was a low point in my life as far as reactions go. Would my Grandfather have acted in the same manner during the War, whilst defending the world from the Axis of Evil? He got shot in both kneecaps on the beaches of Normandy and apparently took it like a minor graze. “Oh, just dab some cream on it and let me back at the Hun” he probably said. With all this in mind, I did give myself credit for stopping short of dancing from toe to toe in order to ward away the pain, visibly anyway. Inside, I was dancing. Inside, I was John Travolta.

“Urrrgggh” I moaned bleakly, cheek held firmly and eyes rolled back in head. My first course of action was to try and expel the pain from my head. Leaning forward I managed to push the contents of my mouth out onto the table with my tongue, spilling half chewed oral detritus onto the magazine. It was at this point that Caroline’s face moved.
“You ok?” she said softly.
“Gno! Gmy Kooff” was the best I could do.
“I’ll get a first-aider should I?”
“Gyes, pease”. The pain was incredible. It felt like my head was pumping out acid and saliva in some lethal combination to fend of a predator. Caroline awkwardly shifted from one side to another as if in pain, but actually deciding which side of the table would be best to exit. Had I been capable, I would have explained that the door was directly behind her and all she needed to do was turn around.

The first-aider quickly came to the conclusion that this situation was vastly out of her depth and advised that I should visit the dentist with the utmost hast.

The waiting room in the dentists was unfeasibly large, far too big for such a small practise. The surgery was based at the top of a very large, old terraced house. The staircase leading up to the top floor was a lined with a dark-varnished wood, with bare wood steps. This gave the entrance an eerie, echo-y, old-fashioned kind of vibe when you walked up the steps. When I come to the dentist, I thought, I do not want to feel like I’ve gone back in time. I want to go into the future! A quick and beautiful, pain-free future. At the top of the stairs, I was greeted by three doors; one for the theatre or whatever they call it, one for toilet, and another for the waiting room. The door to the surgery room, where all the work is done, held a frosted glass panel and on it was painted the Dentist’s name: J. R. R. Simpson BDS. It was painted in a metallic fashion that wouldn’t be out of place in a detective movie. This didn’t help the air of nostalgia, and neither did his name. Reading The Lord of the Rings was on my Lifetime To-Do list, but going to the bloody dentist in Middle Earth certainly was not.

Tramping into the waiting room, I put myself down into one of the foam-topped waiting chairs. I examined the same ‘Brush your teeth’ posters that were always inside every dentist’s waiting room, and the obligatory ‘Please keep your appointment’ notice. The pain was so bad, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. The sensation was over-ruling all others. Cursing the fact that I didn’t have the time to grab his MP3 player before leaving work, I tried to think about something else. My current manager, on of the contact mob, had to be talked into allowing him the time off for the afternoon, and agreed only when I’d promised to work the time back by Monday next week. Bastard.

I tried to think of some of the chilled out and relaxed tracks that could have helped the situation, but it wasn't working. The pain continued to drill through my physical being, and was now attempting to take my mind. My thoughts flashed to a DVD I watched with my friend a couple of weeks ago. It was a Shaolin monk stunt show, if you can call them stunts. These Tibetan monks had trained their brains to disregard the physical pain they were enduring and concentrate only on Buddha or Love, or something, I couldn’t remember. As I was trying to imagine the circumstances and process that would lead me to achieving the peace and serenity of that little skin-head bloke, who was getting furiously kicked in the balls, a girl walked in.

She was dressed like she’d just come from a fitting at the boys section of a Back to School range of a local supermarket. Black trousers and shoes, an over-sized white shirt and a navy blue tie. She must have come from work I supposed, but she can’t work in an office or anything, could she? She sat down and pushed her untidy hair behind her left ear.
We both performed the raise-of-the-eyebrow/thinning-of-the-lips, non-verbal greeting that passing strangers or joggers sometimes afforded each other, and sat in silence. It didn’t seem like an uncomfortable silence, there was no real pressure to entertain anyone in a waiting room situation it seemed. As we sat she seemed to scan the walls with the same disinterest that I had but she didn’t seem to be in any pain. Our eyes met again when she ran out of wall and into my face. She smiled, a very pretty and effortlessly attractive smile, the whiteness of her teeth was striking against the tanned tones of her skin. “What you in for then?”
“tsplith gna tsfchoof” I answered. I was trying to work my speech so that it caused the least pain possible. However, the result was that I was actually working my way through the variants of speech impediments from around the world. This latest one was like two steps up from your standard lisp, an Uber Lisp, and wasn’t helping with the pain either.
“Ouch… I think”

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

No comments at present.

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .


Other work by PorkPieSalad:      ...view all work by PorkPieSalad