Ok, so this was a “Voice Exercise” I had to write for English 105. It had to start with “I can’t call my brother anymore because recently I discovered he transformed into broccoli.” and include the name of a Tibetan city, an ingredient found in Twinkies and the phrase “Lazy Susan.”
Feedback is greatly appreciated.
“I can’t call my brother anymore because recently I discovered he transformed into broccoli.” I had to hold the phone away from my ear Jillian was laughing so loudly. I patiently waited for her to catch her breath—which took a grand total of 5 minutes. A new record.
“No, really,” she giggled. “Why can’t you call your brother and ask where the spare key is?” I took a deep breath, resituating myself on the couch. I put the phone on speaker, not wanting to cradle it between my shoulder and my neck for what I knew was about to be one of the longest phone conversations in the history of our friendship.
“Get comfortable,” I instructed.
“This should be good.” I could hear the smirk in her voice.
“Ok, so here’s the thing.”
“Oh God,” she deadpanned. “The last time you started a story like that I discovered why you should never again be left alone with a Lazy Susan, water balloons, and those elastic exercise bands.” I grinned, remembering the look on my roommate’s face when the onslaught of Jell-O filled balloons hit her as she walked through the front door. Good times, good times.
“Well, this is going to top that,” I promised. “This really is one for the books. This is even better than the time we took the office chairs from the display in Wal-Mart and camped out in front of the big screen TVs when Slumdog Millionaire came out on DVD then rode them through the aisles singing Jai Ho at the top of our lungs. And it’s way better than when my biology lab group stuffed the sinks and turned the floor into a giant Slip-N-Slide. And—”
“Stop stalling and tell me already!” She demanded.
“Ok so here’s the thing,”
“You already said that!”
“Stop interrupting,” I snapped. “Do you want to hear the story?” She didn’t respond. “Well?”
“You told me to stop interrupting.” Again, I could hear the smirk. I rolled my eyes and decided to ignore her smug comment.
“Well my brother went on this self-finding, soul searching, Enlightenment reaching trip to Lhasa—in Tibet. I guess there’s this big temple there that’s a historic monument or something like that. There’s all these murals and a bunch of monks. It’s supposed to be very spiritual. Anyway, he decides that he’s going to get in touch with a Guru over there and piece together this Enlightenment thing he was rattling about a few months ago.”
“Aren’t you guys Catholic?” She asked, sounding confused. “Enlightenment is a Buddhist belief.”
“I know that. But he thought it sounded cool. You know how he can be.” She hummed in agreement, no doubt remembering the time he thought it would be cool to jump his mini-bike across the wash in our old neighborhood. He wound up breaking his wrist in three places and knocking one of his front teeth out. “So he decides to head to Tibet to reach Enlightenment.”
“Why not India? That makes more sense.”
“I told you to stop interrupting. And I don’t know! Why does he do anything he does? It’s a mystery of the ages. So, he catches a flight out a few months ago and reaches the temple. According to this Guru who contacted me, he told him that the only way he could reach Enlightenment was to be at peace with himself. And the only way to do that is to look deep inside yourself, discover your innermost fear, and conquer it.”
“Ok. With you so far.”
“Well, this Guru only speaks Tibetan, there was a translator.”
“If the Guru only speaks Tibetan then how’d he tell you all this?” Jill asked, incredulity seeping through her voice.
“Translator. The Guru contacted me but I had to talk to the translator. Anyway, the translator my brother was working with was a complete moron who translated wrong and told my brother he had to become what he feared the most.”
“Your brother fears broccoli? How do you fear a vegetable? It’s a healthy green thing with a fuzzy top that you eat. How can you fear something that you eat?” She cried.
“Um, there was this thing a few years ago at Thanksgiving with a fortune teller and stories about being poisoned by something that looked green and delicious and my aunt’s cheesy broccoli dish, which used to be his favourite until that carnival—it was—just don’t worry about it,” I said finally.
“Wait, fortune teller? Carnival? Cheesy broccoli?” She asked. Her voice went up an octave with every question.
“Another story for another day,” I assured her. “Anyway, so I guess my brother went into this trance for like 2 weeks and when the Guru went to check on him one morning, he was a piece of broccoli.” There was a long silence on the other end of the line. “Hello?”
“You’re so full of it!” She exclaimed. “That has to be one of your better stories. A little on the odd side though. You haven’t been drinking coffee again, have you?” I glanced down at the half empty mug in my hands, guiltily setting it on the side table next to me.
“No,” I lied.
“Again, you’re so full of it.” She laughed.
“I am not! I swear to you, my brother turned into a piece of broccoli in Lhasa!” I cried. More silence.
“I want proof,” she said finally.
“Fine. Come on over and I’ll show you.” I reached over and snatched my phone off the table, pressing the end button. Grudgingly, I pushed myself up off the couch and wandered into the kitchen. There was a good chance she wouldn’t believe me—say that I bought the broccoli before she came over, or pulled it out of my fridge after hanging up on her.
But I had the letter that came with the large FedEx package two days ago, along with the vegetable that used to be my brother. I guess, in the most abstract of senses there was, he still was my brother.
Just in vegetable form.
I glared at the green thing sitting on the kitchen counter. “You’re such an idiot!” I threw my hands up in the air and paced across all three feet of my kitchen. “Of all the stupid stunts you could have pulled, this really tops the list.” I stared at it, almost expecting some wise-ass comment. But vegetables don’t talk; which I was thankful for. This whole thing was weird enough as it was. I didn’t want to deal with a piece of broccoli that could talk to me.
I sighed, pulling the note out of the kitchen drawer directly beneath it—him. I scanned over it for what must have been the hundredth time in the last two days.
Dear Miss James,
Enclosed you will find your brother. As you can see, he is still a piece of broccoli. We are terribly sorry for this mishap. Hopefully your brother will reach Enlightenment soon and end this—unfortunate occurrence. Rest assured that he will not rot in his vegetable form in the process. We have taken care to preserve him with sorbic acid; the same ingredient used in perishables such as wine, carbonated drinks, pickles, and Twinkies.
Once again, we are terribly sorry for your brother’s current state.
Guru Gampo & Skechy the Translator