I sat alone at the long bench, back to the serving hatch, legs swinging. The teacher stood over me “You are not leaving the table until you have finished everything on your plate.”
The greasy, slaughterhouse smell of cheap mince hung in the air and the thought of putting even one forkful of the grey, gristly sludge into my mouth made me retch.
I tried hiding it under my fork, but even as I did so, I knew I wasn’t fooling anyone. I gazed out of the lower ground floor window at the narrow strip of grey sky. I fiddled with the pleats on my school uniform skirt. I pushed the meat around the hospital-green plate.
“OK, you can get down if you have two mouthfuls.” A teacher itching to get back to the staffroom is no match for a stubborn six year old.
I recognised a decent compromise when I saw one and ate two forkfuls, as quickly as possible, trying not to smell the food as I gagged on pieces of gristle and fat.
Gulping a glass of water to take the taste away solidified the coating of fat on my tongue and the roof of my mouth. I could taste it all afternoon.
I’ve never learnt to like mince.
This post was inspired by Josie’s writing workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak. She asked what I’ve never learnt. http://sleepisfortheweak.org.uk/2010/01/13/writing-workshop-forgotten/