The Oatmeal

December 14, 2017

“I don’t like this,” Ana proclaimed one morning while hovering over her bowl of oatmeal.

“Then don’t eat it, sweetie. Hurry up now, we’ve gotta get you to school,” her mother sighed as she fiddled with her sparkly blue necklace. She tossed Ana a bright purple backpack.

Ana tilted her head. “Isn’t that a waste mama?”

Ana’s mom stood in the doorway, looking quite exhausted. “Honey, if you’re not fond of something, just throw it out.”

Ana stared at the dark gray oatmeal for another minute before her mother cleared her throat, indicating it was time for her to make a decision. She took the bowl of oatmeal, dumped it in the trashcan, threw on the backpack, and walked hand in hand with her mother to school.


When Ana arrived to class, she took her seat behind the girl with two long, blonde, flowy braids tied with orange ribbons. Brittany’s braids slapped the side of her head as she turned to look at Ana.

“Purple?” she scoffed, glancing towards Ana’s backpack. “That is so third grade. But your hair looks nice today.

I’m really digging the rat’s nest look, that is sooooooooo in.” She dragged out the “sooooooooo” to make it clear she didn’t really like Ana’s hair. She was just being mean. Ana knew that.

“I don’t like you very much, Brittany.”

Brittany just smiled a big, cheesy, “I’m better than you” kind of smile, and whipped back around to face the blackboard. Her braids hit her face again.

The next day Brittany wasn’t at school. The teacher said she was sick. Ana raised her hand and announced that she hoped Brittany got better soon.

Ana sat down one afternoon to play with her kitten, Sprinkles. Sprinkles had dark black matted fur, one blue eye, and one green eye.

“I don’t want that one,” Ana had said back when they first got Sprinkles at the animal shelter. “He’s got one blue eye and one green eye. He’s ugly. I want that one.” Ana had pointed to a beautiful golden cat with poofy, silky fur. “He’s beautiful.”

“Too expensive,” her mother said. “You want a cat, this is the one you’re gonna get.”

Ana looked at the cat and sighed. Ugly cat, she thought.

The next morning Ana’s mother couldn't find the cat.

“Where's Sprinkles?” Her mother had asked. She whistled a few times and shouted out a few “here kitty kitty”’s but Sprinkles didn’t come. Ana’s mother sighed and fiddled with her sparkly blue necklace again. “He probably ran away because you never clean his litter box.” Her eyebrows raised and she placed her hands on her hips. Ana knew she was in for a lecture.

“Mother, please don't yell at me, I do not enjoy it when you yell.”

But she yelled anyway.

Later that day, Ana remembered she still needed to do her chores. She cleaned up her room, dusted off the television, put away the dishes, but didn't clean out the litter box. Then she took out the trash.

Ana tried carrying the big white trash bag, but it was too heavy. She had to drag it out to the green bin at the end of her driveway. It took every ounce of strength in her body to even attempt to lift it onto the bin, but it ripped anyway. Out spilled all the trash:

Some old, gray oatmeal.

A crumpled can of doctor pepper.

Some used napkins.

A broken sparkly blue necklace.

2 orange ribbons.

A chunk of braided blonde hair.

Some matted black fur.

1 tiny blue eye.

1 tiny green eye.

Ana sighed as she looked at the mess she made. She shook her head and whispered to herself as she made her way back inside.

“If you’re not fond of something, throw it out.”

The author's comments:

This short story provides a chilling message that you shouldn't take someone's words quite so literally.

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