For a Good Cause

For a Good Cause

A Story by William Richards
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Gentle humour

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I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it. It’s just so tempting. I’ll probably get in trouble. No, I’ll definitely get into trouble. No one is watching though, so, screw it.

I pick up the chocolate muffin and take a bite. It is spongy and airy and easy to chew. As it liquefies in my mouth, chunks of chocolate chips are left to suck and dissolve. Each bite is a pleasure. Then liquid chocolate oozes from its centre; dark chocolate coats my tongue. How do they do that? Amazing. Before long, just the muffin wrapper remains.

Ah, man, what have I done? I feel terrible. Not because I’m trying to lose weight, quite the reverse actually, I could do with a few extra pounds. But because we are supposed to be selling these muffins for cancer research. And I just ate one of the last three. Not that we’ve had much interest for the past hour.

A local cake shop donated the muffins, all ten of them. I fetched them from town and brought them to the medical school common room. It was cold, and the clouds overhead were a bruised blue, but thankfully it never rained. The autumn leaves did make the path slippery. But I did not slip. Suits talked into their phones unaware of me and my large tray. I managed to dodge them. A drunk slept on a bench, with a can of cider beside him. I left a muffin for him. But it was the frequent cyclists who slid past that were the hardest to avoid, and one knocked my elbow. The tray violently shuddered, and all but three muffins landed into the dirt and leaves. I couldn’t do anything to undo it. So I just headed up to the medical building. I felt terrible. I would have to explain it to Kelly.

I got into the medical school using fake ID. I’m not a medical student--never been into science--I much prefer English Literature. It wasn’t hard to get inside; the fake ID worked a charm. As it happened, security personnel were handing over shift. One was already on a bike with a high-vis jacket, and he was fastening the buckle of his helmet. They barely looked at me or the ID, and there was no turnstile to go through. Easy. I should be able to pull the same trick again any time I want.

Kelly was surprised the cake shop had only donated three muffins. I hesitated, and she knew there was more to the story. She knows me so well. We grew up together. We used to play on the local swings. One time we played kiss chase. That was the only time I ever kissed her. She’d said it was gross and never to do it again. We were eight. I haven’t done it again. We’re twenty now. We wanted to go to the same uni to be there for each other. She’s cool. She plays bass guitar in a funk band. She’s sleeping with the drummer. She’s like a sister to me. That’s why I’m helping her today. So I couldn’t lie to her about the muffins. She called me a muppet, but that was it. Then she left after that. Has a band rehearsal to go to. I hadn't realised. But that's cool. I'll sell these last few muffins and then drop the money jar into her locker.

Just two more muffins to sell and then I can go home. There's a pang in my stomach. I can’t believe I ate something that was meant for charity. Donated for that reason. I shouldn’t have done it. But it did taste amazing.

I feel in a pocket, and rummage for money. It's empty except for the fake student ID. I look at it. A passport sized picture of me from our first day. I'm grinning and sporting a wooden necklace that I thought looked studenty. My blonde fringe covers my eyebrows.

From my other pocket, I pull out my wallet. There are three bank notes inside--a five-pound note, and two twenties. Beer money. I sigh and place the fiver into the donations jar. I feel a little bit better. At least I bought that muffin now, that’s fair enough, and five quid is a good donation. I put my wallet away and notice the last two muffins on our table. One catches my eye. It is banana and walnut. Will anyone buy it?

I look around the student common room. No one is around. It’s deader in here than the library. Opposite the table we’ve set up is the student notice board. Some notices are yellowing. Others look newer and probably show upcoming events. I imagine people don’t look at the notice board very much; they probably use social websites on their phones. Table and chairs are everywhere, randomly assorted. There are occasional sofas too. The room is silent, except for a buzz of the air ventilation system. The hum is so soothing and hypnotic I could fall asleep.

Just then, a tall guy walks into the common room. He has a narrow face. I don’t know how else to describe it. And jet black hair. And fiercely intelligent eyes, like he has overdosed on knowledge. He wears a thin smile. It does not reflect any true emotion, but rather, is the sort of smile he realises he needs to wear when around other people. He wears a plain, navy blue suit with a white shirt and a university tie. He walks with a formal gait like he learned to walk from a picture book. He approaches the poster board and starts reading.

Without thinking about it, my hand picks up the banana and walnut muffin. The walnuts have been nicely roasted on the top. My stomach rumbles. I skipped lunch. I’ll just see if they've also used wholemeal flour. I break a piece away and pop it into my mouth. Oh yes, I think they did! The walnuts crunch and the banana flavour bursts into life. So good. I place the muffin back onto the counter.

The air ventilator hums. The tall guy continues to look at the posters. And the muffin doesn’t look right. It's obviously been partly eaten. No one is going to want that now. I don’t want people commenting on it. So I eat it.

My mind drifts to the war poem “War Photographer” by Carol Ann Duffy. I’m not sure how my subconscious made that connection, but there you go. My favourite poem. It was not hard to decide to do an English degree. We have to read two books a week. That’s no problem for me, I usually do that anyway. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this degree. Maybe I’ll go on and do a masters or even a Ph.D. Maybe I’ll become a teacher. I don’t really know to be honest.

Damn it. I ate another one of the muffins. For cancer research, man. How could I do that? I have to donate, it's the only way. I fumble for my wallet. Only two twenties, that’s all I got. I put a twenty into the donation jar. Ah, man! I won’t be able to buy a round of drinks tonight. I'll just have to buy myself drinks and put up with the stick I'll get from my mates.

The tall guy rigidly walks towards me. “I don’t recognise you,” he says.

Who cares, I think. But then I look at his name badge. Dean of the medical school. “Ah, you know, I blend in,” I say casually. S**t. If he realises I have fake ID, I could be in big trouble. I could be thrown out of university even. And that would be terrible. Because then I would have no social life.

He smiles, then says, with an air of authority, “Cold outside.”

I smile back and nod as well.

He continues,“You get a physiological reflex areola hardening along with piloerection of hair follicles with that kind of weather.”

I stare at him blankly. Is he speaking English? It sounds rude. "Would you like a muffin?” I ask, trying to find something to say. “There’s only one left.”

He eyes it intelligently. “Spot quiz,” he says, “What antibodies do you test for in gluten intolerance?”

I have no idea. It’s like a mental Mayweather sucker punch. If I say something wrong he may realise I’m not a med student. An image of my disappointed biology teacher comes to mind.

“Penicillin?” I say. Damn it. I should have said aspirin.

He laughs. Then snorts briefly. “Very good. Play on words right? Between antibodies and antibiotics. That’s ok. Wouldn’t expect a first year to know the answer to that. Anti-transglutaminase antibodies. Worth remembering.” He turns around and walks out of the same door he came in.

I am confused. After some thought, I decide he is gluten intolerant, and that was why he did not want to buy it. It's a shame he will never know how that blueberry muffin will taste. I pick it up. I sniff it. I put it down again. I know I've already decided. I stuff my last twenty into the jar and grab the muffin and head towards Kelly's locker. She will be impressed with how much money I've managed to raise. And who needs to go out on a Friday night anyway?

© 2016 William Richards


Author's Note

William Richards
Thank you for reading. This is a work of fiction and all characters and events are fictional. All constructive comments are welcome. Image is from Wikipedia.

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Reviews

Having been a medical photographer and now a coeliac, I felt a great affinity for this story. It definitely appealed to my ulner collateral ligament of elbow joint.

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

William Richards

2 Years Ago

Thank you Norman, most appreciated. And I admire your subtle humour there with the reference to the .. read more
gentle humour it is and I like it. we certainly need more of these Bill in these troubled times. thank you for the smile. you'll never see me selling goodies. too much of a temptation.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

William Richards

3 Years Ago

Thank you Woody for your kind comments :-)

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Added on June 17, 2016
Last Updated on June 17, 2016

Author

William Richards
William Richards

Hamilton, Waikato, New Zealand



About
I am a guy who enjoys writing. I dunno why. It's just a thrill when you create something believable which conveys emotion and to know you made it all up. I have a wonderful wife and blessed with a .. more..

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