France, writing
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Like bunting, her voice strings itself through the house

‘À table mes enfants, à table!’

We can hear her no matter where we are. Squat legs running down a wide hallway, heading for the third room on the right. The walls and ceilings reach as high as the sky; grown ups are as tall as giants. The woman’s voice calls us all, and squat legs are running in from the garden too. It’s hot out there, and the sunlight almost blinding; I prefer the cooler, quieter places inside. I’m eager to grab my reward though, chattering with the other small ones who also want what’s being offered.

I wash my hands, clumsily rolling short fingers over each other, dropping the soap, and splashing cold water. The green drying cloth is rough on my soft skin, but I’m nearly ready!

Four of us to a table, with tiny matching coloured plastic chairs. At lunchtime my legs will get sticky and hot on the seat, but it’s still early, so I know I can wriggle and kick. The talking and excitement reaches its peak, and of course we’re told to be quiet. I hold my lips tight shut with my hand, making my tablemates laugh, and I smile at them behind my palm.

At last it’s here. My mouth waters as I wait for the plate to reach our table. Will there be enough? How many pieces can we each have? Will it be the same as yesterday, which I remember being so good? A large hand with rings on holds some out to me, and I feel complete delight as my little fingers close around the edges of it. I hold it just for a second, marveling at how white and soft it is. I sniff it, and waves of hunger and pleasure crash over my head. Then I launch my teeth into it, and nearly squeal with happiness. It IS the same as yesterday, and it IS so good! The same lady must have made it for us, and she does it like none of the other ladies- I wish she could teach them all her special way. I wish she could show me how to do it, and then I could show Mummy, and we could eat it every day.

I’m so happy. Life is good. Life is simple and full, a world of joy in a slice of fresh white bread, unsalted butter and strawberry jam, all made in France.

butter&jam

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