Florence’s calorie counting was going well. She’d bought a diary and kept it in the front pocket of her handbag with a mini-pencil. According to her doctor, the trick to losing weight was to “Know what you eat, and then cut things out.” Florence found that concentrating on what she was eating was helping her diet, though finding out the calorie count was a pain in the proverbial. Today’s list so far was:-
Large hot chocolate and skinny blueberry muffin on the way to work;
Diet Coke [all the other women in the office were dieting and they drunk Diet Coke, without exception];
Bottle of sparking water with peach [because water had no calories and peach was fruit];
Pizza margherita for lunch in the canteen [that was two of her 5-a-Day];
Mini-pack of chocolate Bourbon biscuits bought in the canteen and saved for afternoon break;
A piece of Tara’s birthday cake with lemon in the icing [Chloe on Reception said lemon juice helped her lose two stone].
In the canteen there was always a bowl of fruit, usually untouched, slightly soft, browning; it smelt like the food waste bin which hadn’t been emptied since the last time the bins were collected. Today the fruit bowl contained a single bruised red apple, the skin broken as if someone had a nibble and then regretted it.
What she really fancied for her tea was a piece of apple pie with vanilla ice-cream on top so it melted down the sides in a creamy puddle. Apple pie like her mother used to make, with proper pastry and half the apples cooked to a smooth sauce, the other half sliced thinly and put on top. The result of this was the most wonderful silky crunchiness in the mouth. Florence knew she had a way with words, especially food words. Her mother brushed the pastry top with full-cream milk for a glossy golden glow, and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
She hadn’t eaten her mother’s pie for 20 years but she wanted it now so much she felt sick. She went outside to have a cigarette. The smoking area was empty. Florence was glad, she didn’t feel like talking. She lit up and stood, the cigarette in her right hand, her right elbow supported by her left arm which crossed her chest. It was the way her mother stood and smoked. Before she had her heart attack and died.
I’m thinking about Mum a lot today, she thought. Her Mum always said ‘An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away’. Florence stubbed out the cigarette and shoved her hands deep into her pockets. The wind was swirling around the corner, but she would still rather stand here than go back to her desk. Her fingers wriggled through the hole in the sateen lining of her pocket. Lodged deep inside the coat hem was the packet of Bourbon biscuits.
As she took the first bite, she remembered her Mum saying ‘Just the one won’t hurt.’
And then the pain started.
© Sandra Danby
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Florence fancies apple pie in AN APPLE, FIVE WAYS: TEMPTATION #flashfiction via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-tE