Lump Stew

Fiction posts will include responses to writing prompts and exercises, along with seasonal inspirations. This one is a snippet of a random character’s point of view in response to a writing prompt.

On the second to the last day of the week, my mother would serve lump stew. As we waited for my father to bring home the weekly pay, all she could muster from the bare pantry was a thin, milky concoction of flour and various remnants of grey meat. If we were truly fortunate, she would include a single, diced turnip. Flavor came from any grease and leavings she could scrape out of the pan from a previous night. It always carried the lingering scent of something that was waffling about whether to turn rancid. Mother never mixed the flour in well. The lumps gave an illusion of eating solid food, but mostly, they felt like eating mushy blobs of disappointment.

The seven of us would sit around the sand-scrubbed table with our chipped bowls of lump stew. How blessed we were to have something to eat, father would proclaim. You can even taste the sausage, one of the children would insist. The truth was I never tasted the sausage, and I didn’t feel lucky. I always envisioned that this was what they served in prisons. My young mind conjured images of hardened men in stripped pajamas eating bowls of lump stew served by a woman who resembled my mother.

I’ve since learned that prison food is better, but the company is worse.

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