This story takes us back to the Myth and Science universe sometime between "Don't Go Near the Well" and "The Move."
Thank you to Katie Wiles for the prompt.
“I could cook quite well, in my century at least.” Penelope frowned down at the washed out mess on her plate. Her attempts at cooking had refused to turn out right since she’d returned from the Fae realm. The vegetables had turned into a pale, soggy mush, and the meat looked tough and dry.
Jenn looked over Penelope’s shoulder, and she chuckled. “Nuking leftovers’ll do that,” she said. The young woman patted Penelope’s back. “I get why the microwave is a problem, but have ovens changed that much since 1829?”
“Yes, they have,” Penelope opined. She speared a few vegetables with her fork and choked them down, unwilling to allow food to go to waste no matter how poorly cooked. “I learned using a wood burning, cast iron stove.”
“Oh,” was all Jenn managed to mutter in response. Her eyes were wide as she watched Penelope force herself to eat the food she’d warmed up. She plopped down onto one of the stools tucked up under the breakfast bar and swung her legs. “Stoves have always seemed the same,” she mused. “I forget sometimes how new electric appliances are compared to how long we’ve been around.”
Penelope grinned. “That is part and parcel to being an adolescent, I think,” she said. “The world feels like it has always been the same as it is until you’re old enough to witness it change.”
Jenn rested her elbows on the counter before using her hands to prop up her head. Penelope bit the inside of her cheek to keep from scolding the girl on her lack of manners. Much had changed in the almost two hundred years she’d missed in the human realm, ideals of propriety among them. Penelope wondered, not for the first time, if it would have been better if she’d gone searching for her lost aunt a bit less prepared. Maybe remaining stuck in the Fae world would have been a kinder fate than being flung into a future she neither liked nor understood.
“Maybe you could relearn how to cook, using an electric oven this time.” Jenn’s suggestion broke the silence and startled Penelope out of her reverie.
“You remember the baking incident, do you not?” Penelope sighed.
Jenn laughed. “You made rock cakes!”
Penelope frowned. The younger girl’s outburst confused her, and she was not sure if she should laugh at some unknown joke or feel insulted. “Food has changed. Fruits and vegetables look the same, but they taste bland. Even flour is different. It’s too easy to over work the dough now.”
“That’s what cookbooks and cooking shows are for though, Penny.”
Grimacing at the diminutive, Penelope attempted to cut through what was once a nice cut of beef. It was too tough to make decent jerky now.
Jenn jumped down off the stool and pulled open one of the kitchen’s upper cabinets. It was stuffed full of books with colorful spines. “Mama has lots of ‘em.”
Each story in this series is 500 words or less and is prompted by a first line taken either from a random first line generator like this one or reader suggestions like "Don't Forget Me." I much prefer working from reader suggestions over generators, but to do that, I need to hear from you.
If you have a prompt you'd like to see done, comment below, send it to my Tumblr asks, Tweet it at me, or leave a comment on any of the audio stories from this series. I'll screen shot it, write it, and post it for you.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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