Cheap Thrills

Clara thinks Brussels sprouts contain poison. She chews them slowly, focusing on a single spot on the white tablecloth, forcing herself to taste pink bubble gum instead. To think of the shape and size of the bubbles she sometimes blows which burst and stick to her lips, to remember how she peels the sugary sweetness off and puts it back into her mouth. Let this Brussels sprout end quickly, she thinks. Nan’s watchful eyes are on her mouth as Mum pours the gravy and Dad sticks his fork into a potato. In my next life, thinks Clara, I’ll poison them all slowly with these toxic little cabbages.

In her next life, Clara coats Brussels sprouts in dark chocolate and sends beautifully wrapped boxes of them to people she hates. Madame Foyer, her French teacher who failed her ten thousand years ago, gets one. “Zut alors, very étrange chocolat!” Next, it’s her ex-boyfriend Dan, who dumped her for Madame Foyer’s daughter. “This is English chocolat?” Mireille chokes.Then it’s her boss, Mr Wilkinson, with his lecherous gaze and tight fists. Clara hopes he will share at least one with his obnoxious peroxide blonde wife. “Here, darling, some poisonous chocolate from what’s-her-face at the office.”

In her final life, Clara has a face-to-face meeting with God. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you all my life,” she says.

“I’m all ears.”

 “Why did you invent Brussels sprouts?” asks Clara.

“Cheap thrills,” God replies.

Nora Nadjarian is a poet and writer from Cyprus. She has had poetry and short fiction published in international journals and anthologies, including the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Anthology (UK).  Twitter: @NoraNadj

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