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Trauma canteen

by Practicer 

Posted: 19 September 2020
Word Count: 926
Summary: For the bread crumbs challenge

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I never liked school dinners. Not because of acquired tastes or stomach churning disgust. It seemed the only way to make friends and influence people.

My first day in the canteen was like a battlefield, crowded out with many troops marching through or standing to attention in line.  I remember being on the look out for one of those two pence sachets of ketchup when I stepped on Lara the loud mouth´s toes. Lara screamed fury at me and from that day forth I vowed never to set foot in the canteen again.

My mother, therefore, lovingly prepared my cold packed lunches. The food was almost as appetising as a rich picnic hamper. It always was the subject of  interest amongst my would be followers. Although I found the bag heavy to carry around, I did my best to consume the contents.  I think my followers were tempted by the wonderful aromas from fresh ciabatta rolls, spicy salami sausage meats, real oven baked crisps, an assortment of some chocolate treat, and two large sugary fruit squash drinks.

I am not sure to this day why I started a trail to my cold lunch. I lived far away from the catchment area, refused to take the school bus. I even had special dispensation by the authorities to attend the school. It was considered better for my state of mind to join the friends that I already knew, than to know nobody at all.

Perhaps it was something to do with size of the place. Of course, everything is pretty much plane sailing for a couple years, you stay with the comrades you stepped up with and share interests. 

It was indeed, okay during the sun drenched blue sky days, Sitting on the games fields, if dry, munching lunch with one or two buddies.

However, it soon becomes easy to get lost when you don´t make the effort to keep track of where everybody sits and eats when it rains or swirls with fierce winds. Appetites alter the ego, the blokes want to date the women. I just coundn´t stomach the wet breaks , as a designated area of the canteen was reserved for packed lunches.  I would sit out on the outside walls, chewing soggy bread.  A one hour lunch break seemed an eternity. Once the hot canteen meals were over, there was no sitting with me outside. All my would be followers would only take their two pence subsidised fizzy canteen drinks and sit on the tables in the classrooms, as they were not allowed to take hot food there.

Of course , somebody has to forget their lunch money , as well as their homework. They get themselves lunchtime detention, but will be permitted fifteen minutes for lunch. I just forget my homework.

There are three of us just writing out hundred times , ´I must remember my homework´.

I think his surname was Potter, her first name was Reeta, and of course myself.

Potter was a bit of a stud with the woman, therefore too busy to worry about homework. Reeta struggled with the work and her behaviour. I don´t think I had any room left in my bag for homework. 

It was then that I handed my lunch to them , hoping for admittance into the potter´s clique. Potter hung around plenty of pretty women, who I never made the effort to get to know in the canteen. Reeta actually offered me the world in return for donating my food. However, I never took her seriously, perhaps I didn´t take myself seriously. I simply ignored her in class and never saw her outside of it.  Potter thought the food delicious. Potter would spread the word.

Every morning from then on , hoards of blokes would wait behind Potter with their greedy eyes and destructive appetites at the gates. They would swiftly tear into my cold lunch before any teachers would notice.  There was no physical brutality, I just didn´t want to be there on the inside or outside.

I soon acquired the name Gotny, as in got any food or money. Of course I never mingled with the pretty ladies, it was all a decoy for the blokes to grab the tasty morsels.  The pretty ladies even pitied me and handed me two pence pieces, not actually to go get a fizzy drink, but to hand them to Potter and his cronies. The hoards were never just content with two large sugary squash drinks. They always said when you sip and share , ninety percent is saliva.

So I tried to avoid lunch hour altogether, mooching around out of sight and out of mind.

That is until I forgot my homework again, as did Reeta ,as did Lara, the  loud mouth.  For some reason Lara wanted to give me something in return for my ciabatta. Unfortunately , I had little choice. It was one of those paper chains. That read: Pass this paper on in twenty fours hours or disaster will fall upon you.

There was nobody outside to pass it onto.  However with fifteen minutes to go, Reeta took my hand and the paper, and lead me to the canteen. 

I was panicking as she stood with me in line.

" I expect you´re hungry? she asked.

Before I could reply, I heard Lara, the loud mouth scream at somebody.

" I was only looking for ketchup", came the reply .

I stepped out of the way of the ketchup sachet container, and I handed my last two pence to Potter.


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Comments by other Members

michwo at 00:18 on 20 September 2020  Report this post
Reading between the lines, Robert, it doesn't seem to me as though school days were the happiest days of your life.
This makes for harrowing reading in some ways and it seems mixed up somehow.
I've not taken part in this week's challenge but I have to recognize the wisdom in Euclid's comment on his android-themed submissions: It's just a bit of fun. Don't take yourself too seriously. My own feeling is that this is too short a format for in-depth analysis, which this 'story' seems to me to be.

michwo at 01:35 on 20 September 2020  Report this post
P.S. I have now submitted something but it's far too short to be taken seriously and I wouldn't want it to be.

euclid at 16:15 on 22 September 2020  Report this post
This is an interesting piece. It needs work, though.
It needs focus.

A short story needs to have a clear purpose, a theme or a point.
It needs to set the scene, then lead the reader to the ending, a bit like the punchline of a joke.

It's not clear whether this story is about the narrator's relationship with Lara, or Potter.
The first line is confusing. Do you mean the canteen was where everybody made friends? The only PLACE in school to make friends.

The ending seems to have a line missing.

Before I could reply, I heard Lara, the loud mouth scream at somebody.
" I was only looking for ketchup", came the reply.

What did Lara scream?

Definitely the makings of a knockout story here, but it needs work.

PS I used to have panic attacks in canteens.



Bazz at 22:25 on 27 September 2020  Report this post
This is quite an enigmatic piece, evoking a sort of ominous nostalgia. It's not entirely clear at parts, but you definately feel the frustation, the unrootedness of the main character, trying to fit in and never finding his place. I also struggled with the ending, it does feel like there's something missing.

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