Sunday, August 1, 2010

Short Fiction Character Sketch Salad

On the last day of school Yuni arrived home drenched with sweat. The summer sun had come early, and her little classroom was not yet ready to shell out the cash required to pump up the air conditioning. Her teacher had opened the windows, but it seemed that just attracted the flies and the bees. They dragged their wings back and forth across the screen, like prisoners clanging metal cups. They wanted in, and she felt for the little guys. She wanted out. Warm air occasionally wafted across her desk. Like a renegade prankster rushing through the classroom naked, it caused a momentary disruption in her mental fog. Yuni wished she were leaving with the breeze, but then she thought about how guilty she would feel if she were leaving school early.

She got out her pencil and started to draw, hoping that she could distract herself with minimal guilt until the bell rang. By the time the bell sounded Yuni was deep in the middle of a pirate battle. There were cannonballs and ships all over her paper, and the galley wench had met a pirate rebel and coaxed him to be kind to her and to the rest of his crew. She was headed for an island paradise on the bottom right hand corner of the page when the bell caused her to jump and pencil a line right through her ship. She felt a momentary pang of guilt and panic. What had the teacher said? What was the homework?

Ah yes, then she remembered. It was summer. She was simply going to go home and forget any of this year had ever happened. Yuni was so giddy when she got off the bus that she decided to run the quarter mile back home. She was out of shape and her lungs began to burn instantly. She could feel the baked potato chips her mother had packed her for lunch creeping into the back of her throat. Her backpack strained against her shoulders and her books thumped from side to side against her back. Her short hair bounced up and down on her scalp. Her thighs ached, just above her knees. She ran at first just to get home quicker, but once she started going she felt like she never wanted to stop. She would run off the year, and the books and the stress. She would run off the teasing. She would run off her mothers nitpicking and dieting advice. She would run off the college applications. She would run herself free.

1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup chopped cilantro
The corn from 2 corn cobs
The white part of 3 green onions, ribboned (slice lengthwise)
1 cup chopped lettuce, any kind that is not bitter
Salt and pepper to taste.

I think this salad is good without dressing, or with just a squirt of lime juice. If you prefer, dress with:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp raw honey
1 tsp lime juice

Christina's vote: "This salad felt like the wind in my hair."

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