Parents and Peas

"But, dad, I hate peas," Oriana moaned, moving the little green legumes around her plate with a reluctant fork.

Ezekiel sighed in exasperation. "How do you expect to grow up to be a big strong geologist if you don't eat your peas?"

"Well, dad, if that's the secret to growing big, then it's obvious that Ingo Schmidt never--"

"Oriana," her father warned.

Oriana changed her tact slightly. "He's the best geologist on board the ship, dad, but according to his size and your legume theory, then his upbringing must have been entirely pea-less."

Her father didn't answer, just gave her The Look.

"So I don't see what eating peas has got to do with geology."

"It has to do with eating the food that's grown on this ship and available for consumption," Ezekiel growled. "Legumes provide protein, so if we grow peas, and peas are on the menu, you eat peas, understood?"

He raised his voice on the last word so suddenly and so loudly that Oriana was startled into jerking her fork. Two peas flew off her plate and landed on the floor.

"Sorry, dad," Oriana whispered.

"Pick them up," Ezekiel said. "We don't waste food, no matter how small it is."

Under her father's stern gaze, Oriana leaned down to retrieve the peas, hoping to find them without mashing them into the carpet. She had barely located them, however, when something black and furry moved into her vision, inspected the peas with a quivering nose, and ate them both. Rosie the cat then glanced up at her with shiny, hopeful eyes.

Silently rejoicing at the unexpected help, Oriana pulled herself back up to a sitting position and glanced sneakily at her father, then launched two more peas over the edge of the table. She could see Rosie moving happily to intercept them, and hastily flicked a few more in the cat's direction.

She was just about to scrape her fork again when Ezekiel looked at her abruptly, and she froze, trying as hard as she could to look innocent.

"Oriana, if you want to go up to the geology lab this evening, I suggest you get on with it," Ezekiel said.

"Yes, dad," Oriana replied dutifully, wondering why her father always scheduled her favourite outings for the days that peas were on the menu. She'd been born on board the ship and had never seen a real planet. All the gardens and farms were as familiar to her as her own quarters, so any new rocks or clumps of metal that the scientists gathered from comets or asteroids or other objects in space were exciting and mysterious. Reminded of the lab, Oriana began to think of all the wonderful things she could do to peas with the equipment available there.

"Dad," she asked, trying to distract him. "Do you think we'll ever find a real planet, one that we can land the ship on?"

Ezekiel sighed. "Yes, I do, but the real question is when, Oriana, and for that question, I don't have an answer. All I can say is, eventually we will, and now get back to those peas."

Oriana sighed. The cat was still at her leg, waiting with much more patience than Oriana could ever achieve. Eventually, her father glanced away and Oriana sent a little avalanche of peas off the side of her plate to land at her feet. Stabbing one pea on her fork, Oriana lifted it to her lips, pretended to eat it, then dropped her hand to her side and gave it a little shake. The food had barely hit the floor before Rosie pounced on it.

There were about ten peas left. Oriana moved her fork around them in different patterns, shooting them to the cat one at a time. She'd worked her way down to the last one when Ezekiel suddenly stood up. "Oriana Schaefer, are you throwing those peas on the floor?"

"Dad!" was all Oriana could exclaim. "I--uh--you can look! There aren't any peas on the floor!"

Ezekiel came around the table and glanced down, his face simply radiating suspicion. But Oriana was right, there was not a single green ball on the floor. Rosie, however, came out from under the table and gave Ezekiel her best begging look. After a moment, Oriana saw the mistrust fade from her father's face, to be replaced by sheer fondness as he regarded the family pet. Sighing mentally in relief, Oriana slumped back in her chair.

"There's still one left on your plate, Oriana," Ezekiel observed, sitting down again. Oriana moved the pea to the back of her mouth as quickly as she could and swallowed it without chewing or even tasting it. "All done, dad! Let's get down to the lab!"

As they stood up, Oriana congratulated herself mentally on her successful strategy until Ezekiel said, "We will have peas again to-morrow, my protein-deprived daughter, and while we eat, that cat will stay in the other room."

The End

Story © by respective author(s)
Licensed under the Creative Commons License