Challenge: ask a friend for three prompts and use them in a five hundred word fictional story
Prompts: oatmeal, ossified, divergent

He was a little wild.

A good time meant running through the woods with a slingshot, hunting for frogs and squirrels. He had never eaten a frog or a squirrel, but this morning he was willing to try—the ossified oatmeal that his mother intended to feed him was going to need a pickaxe to chop through, it was so stiff.

“Breakfast is ready!” his mother called.

This hardly counted as breakfast. He was tempted to make a run for it.

“There you are–” he jumped at the sound of his mother’s voice, now close behind him, “I said breakfast is ready. Come eat.”

“But mom. It’s oatmeal. I hate oatmeal.”

“I know you do,” his mother responded, “so do I. Let’s go eat.”

He hated when she said that. She always said that. She never tried to convince him that it tasted good with a little butter and brown sugar, although occasionally she said that it was healthy for him and would make him grow big and strong.

But usually, she just agreed with him and said let’s eat it together.

How can you argue with that?

Dragging his feet, he made his way into the kitchen and plopped grumpily into his chair, the wooden feet scraping loudly against the tile as he shuffled forward–an ode to his displeasure.

“When you’re done eating we have some chores to do,” his mother added, as if deliberately trying to torture him.

There was a knock at the door.

He perked up a little—maybe this would save him.

It was Uncle Bill–a tall, lanky man with a thin beard. He laughed a lot and had a rather divergent point of view for…just about everything. You couldn’t bring up a single topic without him going on about some conspiracy theory, or how the things we think are healthy are actually unhealthy, or—


That gave him an idea.

“Uncle Bill? I have a question.”

“Sure thing, bud! What’s up?”

“Well,” he shot a sly glance at his mother before continuing, “my mother says that oatmeal is very healthy for you. She says I should eat it as often as possible so I grow big and strong.”

It worked.

“Well, you know—actually—oatmeal can be very bad for you, especially if you’re sensitive to gluten–”

His mother took the bait.

“Oh hush,” she said, “it’s full of vitamins and minerals, it’s anti-inflammatory—”

“Unless you’re gluten sensitive–!”

“But I’m not gluten sensitive—”

“How do you know?”

As the conversation quickly heated, he carried his ceramic bowl over to the trashcan and emptied its contents, covering the evidence with some napkins he had snatched on his way over.

“Hey mom? I’m done eating. Can I go outside?”

“—but if you’re not gluten—if you’re not—yes, honey, go outside, have fun. If you’re—”

He ran outside and into the familiar woods, laughing at his cleverness.

He was still hungry.

But at least he was free.

(C) 2022 Barbara Gray – no content may be used or reproduced without permission of the author.

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