Katherine trudged up to the lunch counter to purchase her daily dose of trans-fat. The spicy scent of pepperoni and sausage assaulted her nostrils. She contemplated her three equally uninteresting options and decided on the lukewarm cheese pizza. She glanced at the limp lettuce and rancid buttermilk ranch and opted for the second piece of pizza. As she made her way back to the sand-flecked table crowned with the royal blue chairs, the violent chatter of the lunch room engulfed her. At her own table the raucous noise gave way to soft mummers between friends and the occasional cross-table screech. Every so often she could pick up, like a moth on a bat's sonar, a teacher serving up a stern reprimand to some unsuspecting victim. Chairs squeaked back and forth while the creamy plastic cutlery scraped pathetically against Styrofoam plates trying to disassemble the chewy, khaki colored crust of the pizza. The various scents of re-heated leftovers, vending machine dry goods and fresh fruits blended together to create the most rancid of odors. Katherine forced her way through the rubber cheese to the crust that dehydrated her mouth on contact. She reached for the cool, refreshing Diet Coke only to discover that the bubbly concoction had become tepid with time. She decided that an ice-cream cone was the only suitable ending to her mid-day meal and made the trek to the vending machine. She was followed by the stares of the solemn statue and the equally solemn faculty members. At the machine each quarter made a satisfying clink when it found its way to the coin holding cell. She paused before pushing the slightly sticky buttons to make her selection. The vending machine whirred into action. She waited on bated breath as the corkscrew turned bringing her ever closer to sweet, chocolaty Nirvana when without warning the apparatus stuck. The blow she descended on the Plexiglas provided just enough force to allow the corkscrew to resume its job. The ice-cream was pushed out, along with an added bonus, a second cone. She felt her way around the dark ice-cream receptacle. Her hand brushed every so lightly against a mysteriously sticky substance before she removed her prize. She rambled back to her table but not before making a stop to give a deserving friend the spare cone. She plopped into her chair and slowly undid the shiny wrapper. The mixed smell of chocolate, nuts, milk and several unknown preservatives drifted to her nose. She lifted the delicate cone out of the wrapper ever so gently. She went for the first bite that was to be sweet, heavenly goodness when the bell rang signaling the end of lunch.
March 2, 2009