Jenny didn’t want to eat her vegetables. This wasn’t because of how they tasted, although admittedly, brussels sprouts, gross. This was because they spoke to her.
Not metaphorically. They didn’t light a fire of inspiration or empathy or understanding within her. They literally spoke to her. They said things like ‘Why should I pay for your healthcare? There’s nothing wrong with me.’ And ‘How do you know God didn’t create the universe? Were you there?’
The problem, of course, was that nobody else could hear them. Even at six years old, Jenny was aware that there were consequences to hearing things that nobody else could. But at the same time, she was fairly certain she wasn’t imagining it, because the vegetables used a lot of words she didn’t know, like ‘immigrants,’ and ‘political correctness gone mad.’
Naturally, this had become a problem. When Dad said ‘Jenny, eat your vegetables’ and your vegetables said ‘They think they’re so smart just because they read books,’ Jenny was left with the sort of ethical dilemma most six year olds haven’t been properly prepared for. So she’d made The Pocket.
It was felt, and stitched inexpertly to a hair band she could wear on her wrist. Hidden inside her sleeve, this allowed Jenny to remove vegetables from her plate without removing for ever their ability to say things like ‘If they want to own their own home they should find a higher paying job.’
Unfortunately, this had led to another problem. Specifically, a drawer nearly overflowing with old vegetables saying ‘They don’t know the meaning of hard work’ and beginning to smell.
Jenny felt that if she could only get the vegetables to the garden she wouldn’t have to worry anymore. But she wasn’t allowed in the garden on her own, and in any case there were so many vegetables now she wasn’t sure how to get them past her parents without their noticing.
Which was why, at eleven o’clock on a school night, she was lying awake, pinching herself over and over so she didn’t fall asleep, waiting for her parents to go to bed. It had been a long wait. Her bedtime was seven, so by her count, she’d been lying there for at least fifteen hours. At last, with a squeak and a click, their bedroom door was shut and the last light in the house went off.
Jenny leaped out of bed, leaped back in, properly prepared herself for the cold, and then leaped out again and put on her warmest coat. Inside the drawer, a worryingly brown carrot was saying ‘Why should I care if they’re endangered?’
Next, Jenny spread an old sheet on the ground. Carefully, she pulled the drawer all the way out of her desk, and spilled the contents onto the sheet. It was generally agreed that women were happier when they had a family to take care of and didn’t have to worry about careers. Next, Jenny tied the corners of the sheet together so that she had a sort of sack, which she hefted over her shoulder.
On tip toes, Jenny made her way down the hall, through the kitchen, and out a very stealthily opened back door. Her quest almost complete, she struggled for some time to untie the knot in the sheets, which she’d quintuple tied to be safe because she wasn’t very good at knots yet. Then at last it came open, she said goodbye to the vegetables, the vegetables said ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman,’ and before she knew it, Jenny was back in bed.
The next morning Jenny’s Mum said ‘Why is there a huge pile of rotting vegetables in the middle of the garden?’
To which Jenny very cleverly said ‘I don’t know.’
She’d done it!