It was late when Alan came home. He put his bag down and then went to see what his parents were up to. His mother was nowhere to be seen, but his father sat in the kitchen, weeping.

“Ah, son,” he said when he saw Alan. “Howsyourdaybeen?” Alan raised an eyebrow. It seemed that his dad was in a talkative mood today.

“Thanks, fine,” he replied. “We learned about nucleophile reactions in chemistry and started reading Dickens.”

“Ah,” his father said, some tears dropping from his chin onto the table. “Pass me the bowl, will ya?”

Alan reached for the bowl, carefully avoiding getting near the big knife his father was wielding. When he had passed it over, his father used the knife to push the chopped onions into the bowl.

“Hey ho!” came a loud voice from behind Alan. His mother had nearly bumped into him when she entered the kitchen.

“You’ve been picking snails from the salad,” Alan observed and peeked into the bowl that she was carrying. Two dozen snails crawled in there.

“Yum!” said his mother, and with a swift motion she emptied the bowl over the onions. ”You ok?” she asked him, poking him in the side. “Look a little bluish.”

“I don’t!” It was an old and ridiculous belief that spending too much time in sunlight would make your skin look blue or even turn you into stone. In fact, his skin looked as green as ever, even after extensive sun-bathing. He had skipped math class once to try that out.

His father added pepper to the bowl and stirred the contents with a big spoon. “Ready!” he finally proclaimed. Alan sighed. There was no way to get around this meal, and he had to admit that he had always loved snail salad when he was younger. Still, it seemed strangely inappropriate now. But what could he do?! He was an ogre and that ruled ordering pizza completely out.

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