“I don’t like it.”
“You haven’t even tried it, Mike.”
“I don’t care.”
Mike’s father sighed, pinching the space between his eyes. “Mike, there isn’t any other food for dinner. This is what we have. Eat it.”
In front of Mike sat a plate of salmon, perfectly cooked and garnished with a few leaves of parsley. It smelled faintly of spices, with a hint of lemon, and was a rich orangey-pink color. Dispersed evenly over the surface of the fish were small bits of dill weed and black pepper; but to Mike, it was nothing but gross-looking.
Mike groaned dramatically, draping his small body over the back of his chair. “But it’s yuckyyyyy,” he whined.
“Mike, you haven’t had a single bite. Just try it. If you don’t like it after that, then I won’t make you eat it,” he tried to reason with him.
It… didn’t really work. Mike groaned again, louder, and whined “Nooooooo! It’s gross! I don’t wanna eat it!”
“Mike I swear to god… You won’t know if it’s gross until you take a bite.”
“It looks yucky! I don’t eat yucky stuff!”
“Mike, please just take one bite. That’s all I’m asking. One bite.”
Mike’s father’s voice then switched from an irritated tone to a quieter, somehow terrifying calmer one. “Michael Matthew Morton I swear to everything holy on this planet if you don’t take a bite of that fish right now you won’t be playing outside tomorrow.”
Mike paled slightly, his eyes widening. No playing outside? He wouldn’t survive that! He reluctantly sat down properly again, picking up his fork and huffing as he stabbed it into the fish. He lifted it up and hesitantly took a bite, expecting it to taste terrible.
He was surprised to find that it was actually really good. It was a complex flavor, with hints of lemon, dill, and another flavor he couldn’t quite place. Of course, as good as it was, he was a stubborn child and didn’t want to lose face after saying it looked gross. So, he kept his grumpy expression as he continued to eat more of the salmon.
His father took a deep breath, realizing his son would actually eat his food now, and continued to eat the food that he had eaten about half of before the disturbance. Although he knew this would almost certainly happen again next time he made salmon, as it had almost every other time, it was calm for the moment and he would certainly be appreciating it.
Mike was pulled back into the present by the sound of his friend’s voice saying his name. He blinked a few times, refocusing his mind before responding. “Huh? Yeah, Norton?”
Norton shook his head lightly. “Nothing, you just kinda zoned out.”
“Oh, whoops. I was just remembering something.”
“What was it?”
“Just this one time when I was little, and my dad made salmon almost exactly like this.” Mike gestured to the plates of salmon Norton had made for the two of them, almost identical to the one all those years ago. “I kept whining about how gross it looked before I’d even tasted it,” he said with a small, nostalgic laugh.
“Picky-ass toddler.” Norton responded, amused.
“Good to know you would’ve gotten along well with my father.”
“Yeah, well, it’s true. Only the picky-assest of toddlers would do that.”
“Oh shut up. I bet you did the same thing.”
Norton pointedly did not comment on that and began eating. Mike laughed and began eating as well, content.