So we just had the most bizarre conversation, Wyny and me. Have you ever head of a food with a certain colour being forbidden? It’s so odd! Not to mention hairstyles having any sort of meaning. Or, well, I suppose on Earth they could be used as some sort of status symbol or a form of expression. I guess… Huh. Perhaps it’s not that weird after all. Either way, I was ready to go to sleep for the night—excited to talk to that stupid zlurp in the morning—but I knew cramps were going to make that hard. Blackie helped me with that though. *crackling fire*
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This is Nadec, my adventure. Written down in a better way than I can tell it.
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Nadec, episode 13, comfort food
‘I would really like to have strawberries right now.’
Nadec groaned and sat up from where she’d been lying in foetus position. She clutched her arms around her knees, hugging them tight to her body. She’d managed to make a big heap of pads, which were merely strips of fabric folded upon each other. Unfortunately, having less chance of leaking blood everywhere, still didn’t diminish the pain.
‘Strawberries?’ Wyny sounded confused.
Don’t they have them here? Nadec thought, equally as confused. She was sure she’d eaten them in The Other Realm before.
‘Yes, strawberries. If I was at home right now, which I would’ve been if you hadn’t messed everything up and if my apartment hadn’t been blown to pieces,’ she paused and bent down to give Kitty a peck on the head—a thank you for staying near to cheer her up—’I’d be eating strawberries to make me feel better. Preferably with ice cream. And chocolate sauce drizzled on top. Or poured, whatever.’ She murmured that last bit as she flicked out a hand to give Blackie a few pats on the massive head.
The dragon had appeared to be as emphatic as Kitty, or perhaps she liked to follow the grey cat’s behaviour. Those two had become best friends from the moment they met. Nadec was still getting used to having a real dragon around her, even if she was—as Wyny claimed—a small one. He thought she was probably still growing.
‘Comfort food,’ he nodded, looking at her from across the small fire. He raised his voice to be heard over the combined purring of Kitty and—mostly—Blackie. They were sitting with their back to the side of the large cave chamber. The rounded wall, if it could be called that way, reflected the heat and light of the fire into the rest of the chamber. Unfortunately it made the natural blue shine of the cave diminish into a dancing, orange glow. An opening above their resting spot removed the smoke well enough. In front of them, the large lake looked magical. She marveled at the sight of the bioluminescence reflecting on the water, mixing with the orange.
‘But, how can straw-berries be comfort food? They do not sound very tasteful at all. We have appleberries, delicious little green fruits, sweet and sour at the same time. So I assume strawberries to taste like straw and look golden?’ He shook his head. ‘It does not sound appetizing at all. What other strange foods do you have in your Realm?’
‘Strawberries don’t taste like straw, silly. They grow close to the ground so the ground is packed with straw as a cushion for the berries, to prevent rot. They’re delicious! There are a ton of varieties, but the best ones are mostly sweet, with maybe a hint of sourness.’ She closed her eyes, envisioning them while she spoke.
‘Many people like to add sugar to them, or eat them with whipped cream, but I prefer them just like that. Pure. Hmm.’
‘Or with ice cream and a sauce of chocolate,’ he interjected, pronouncing both foods strangely. She smiled and opened her eyes, looking at him. The fact that he remembered what she’d said before, while not even understanding the words, proved that he was really listening. She appreciated that immensely.
‘Exactly.’ Her smile turned into a grin. ‘I wish I could let you taste them. I’m sure I’ve seen them here before. Well, I mean, perhaps not here here, but in this Realm. They’re a conical shape, the length of an average thumb, or smaller, or bigger, and they have the most beautiful red colour. The funny thing is, their seeds—’
She broke off. His expression had changed dramatically. It had gone from interested, even curious, to wide-eyed and sickly-looking. And, was that a blush on his cheeks? Why was he suddenly embarrassed?
‘What?’ She prodded him when it was clear he didn’t intend to say anything. He was staring at the ground! What had she said that made him so uncomfortable?
‘Red,’ he cleared his throat so often, Nadec nearly got up to slap him on the back. Or on the face, if that’s what it would take to pull him out of his fit.
‘Red foods are not to be talked about and certainly not to be consumed in Paralelo. It is inappropriate and I do not know how I feel about you now that I know you eat those foods and enjoy them.’
Nadec gaped at him. He had blurted the words out so fast they’d almost blended into each other. His breath came as quickly as if he’d just ran a good distance. He doesn’t know how he feels about me now, because I eat red fruit? She strangled the laughter which was about to burst up, instead did her best to keep a straight face. It was obviously important to him so she would treat it that way. How’s that for adulting?
‘I’ll do my best to avoid talking about… those foods. I’m sorry, I didn’t know. If you… When you feel like you can, could you tell me why? Is there a specific reason, or is it merely a remnant of history?’
She felt very proud of herself for the way she’d handled that. It had been the right approach, as he appeared to relax. The tension in his stubbled face faded, and his eyes resumed their normal size. Satisfaction spread over Nadec’s body as a slow burning warmth. See, I am learning better socialising skills. The thought sounded smug in her mind.
‘Nozbexraper!’ She doubled up in pain. That had been a bad cramp. When it passed, she saw Wyny standing up, his hand outstretched and a wooden box floating above it, transforming into the L-shapes she’d seen before.
‘That,’ he told her while folding his sticks up, ‘was the most vulgar swear I have ever heard. I thought we were under attack!’ He sat down again, looking at Nadec curiously.
‘We’re not under attack, although my uterus feels as if it is.’
She mumbled that quietly, hoping he wouldn’t hear. Louder, she said: ‘Anyway, I think I should try to get some sleep, I’m looking forward to get answers from the zlurp. I especially wouldn’t mind knowing why that purple big shit kept referring to me as a princess. What, do you know?’ His face had changed when she’d said that. He did know something!
‘I can not be certain.’ The reluctance in his voice made her more curious.
‘Perhaps he has knowledge I do not have.’ He let a long sigh out. ‘Or perhaps he recognises your hairstyle as an indication of your rank.’
She groaned. Bloody great. No one has ever thought to tell her about the significance of hair in this Realm. She hoped it was only a local custom. The only reason why she french-braided her hair in three parts—one on top and one on each side, pulled together in a knot at the back—was to keep it away from her face. Not to mention avoid her adversaries to pull on it.
‘I’ll hear more about that of you tomorrow, mister.’ She tried to put a playfulness in her tone of voice, but another cramp caused her to grit her teeth, making it sound more like a threat. She tried to find the most comfortable sleeping position, but failed.
I wish I had my hot water bottle. That nice warmth always helps against the cramps. She almost considered plucking a warmed up log from the outside of the fire, when Blackie gently laid the arrow-pointed tip of her tail on her tummy. It was the perfect heat to ease her pains. She looked into the dragon’s face, Kitty settling in between them. The large, greenish yellow-gold eye blinked at her. Was that a wink?
The last thought before falling asleep stirred wonder in her, a feeling she took along to her dreams.
How had Blackie known I’d been thinking about wanting something warm on my tummy?
Thank you for listening to Nadec, episode 13, comfort food. Narrated by myself, Nadec. Adventure by and lived through by Nadec. Written in a better way than I can tell it, by Astrid Jef.
Don’t go just yet, we’ve got bloopers coming up. Before we get to those, [music on background] we just want to say that if you head over to astridjef.com, you can find transcripts and full chapters of this podcast. Even more, you can find the unedited draft of Nadec at least up to 15 chapters further than the podcast goes. So if you’re keen to know how the story continues, you have the option to go and read. Find us on Twitter @astridjef and @nadecandkitty.
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