Don’t Play with your Food (Short Story)

“Mama, why is it called hamburger? Is it made from ham?” Sally was always full of questions. It nearly drove her mother crazy at times, but she felt that curiosity was a sign of deep intelligence, so she always tried to answer her daughter with reasonable, factual answers.

“No, sweetie. Actually hamburgers are made from cows. They really should be called cowburgers or beefburgers. Ham is from pigs and you know we don’t eat ham. I’m not sure anyone on the whole planet eats ham anymore.”

“Why doesn’t anyone eat ham anymore?”

“Well, it was after the big pork disease spread around the globe that everyone decided ham should be off the menu. Now eat your dinner.” Sally’s mama went back to cleaning up the mess of preparing yet another meal. It always made such a mess. It was too bad they had to subsist on so much meat. It was the messiest part of the meal.

“Well what about chuck roast? Does that come from beef or does that come from Chuck?” Sally’s innocent question seemed to settle in the air between them. Her mama looked across room at Sally’s father, trying to look innocent as he ate his dinner.

“Excuse me? Robert, do you have something you would like to add to this conversation?”

Robert looked sheepish and hung his head, focusing overmuch on the food on his plate. “Not really,” he mumbled.

“Robert, didn’t I tell you not to take Sally out amongst the livestock?” her voice rose an octave, as it always did when she was upset. “Didn’t I tell you to keep her away from there?” Her voice was nearly a shriek.

Robert started sweating. “Listen, it’s not that big of a deal. She just likes talking to them. She likes holding the babies and playing with the young ones. It’s no big deal!”

Sally sat quietly, afraid that she had made her parents fight once again. She hated when they fought. She tried to intervene, “Mama, it’s okay! Daddy didn’t want me to go out on the farm, but I begged. I won’t complain. I don’t mind if we eat Chuck’s roast. He was nice! I bet he’ll taste really yummy!” Sally put on a fake smile to help the situation.

Sally’s mom grew even angrier, she turned to Robert, “Did you hear what your child just said? She is making friends with them! She’s giving them NAMES! What do you think that’s going to do to her psyche? Oh my planets, Robert. How could you?”

Robert tried to make excuses, but she was having none of it. Sally tried again, “But mama, I didn’t name them! They tell me their names. Really, they do. They like to talk to me. They’re so fun to play with, even though they’re so different from us. They have toes mama! TOES! I love to go to the farm where they stay. They have even started teaching me things about their lives. It’s really awesome, mama! You should go with us next time!”

Beth tried to ignore the thumping in her chest and the roiling stress in her stomach. All she could think of was her daughter making friends with “Chuck” and then eating him at the dinner table later. Beth pictured Sally looking in the freezer and seeing Chuck’s half eaten body lying there, frozen and chopped half to pieces. How on earth was she going to explain this? Ever since they’d come to this planet, it had been nothing but a huge learning curve. She didn’t even know how to explain to her daughter that the humans weren’t pets, they weren’t playthings. They were just for food. She sighed, giving her husband a look. This was not going to be a fun evening.

This is my freewrite from steemit thanks to @mariannewest. I’ve actually combined two freewrites here. The prompts were hamburger and sweating.

NANOWRIMO UPDATE: I hit 64,000 words last night. I’m really hoping to hit 70k tonight!