Picky-up Thingy by Alan Oberman
Granny’s got this picky-up thingy. It’s black and silver and when you squeeze a handle at one end, two fingers come together at the other end. Granny can’t bend down because her knees hurt so she uses the picky-up thingy instead. We’re waiting for dinner when I see the picky-up thingy lying there shouting out, ‘Someone use me, someone use me.’ I first try picking up Ellie’s shoe. Oh that’s dead easy. Then a sheet of paper, and that’s more difficult. Then, even harder, a slippery crayon. This requires a lot of concentration, but I persist and I do it, lifting it high over the dinner table when it slips out of the picky-up thingy and lands in Ava’s glass of water. I’m now an expert ace at using the picky-up thingy.
Granny and Daddy are serving dinner. Because I’m vegetarian I’m having fish fingers with cabbage, which is OK except for the cabbage which I hate but Mummy says I’ve got to eat it because it’s good for you. Why is it that things that are good for you are yukkey while things that are bad for you are yummey?
Mummy is breast-feeding Baby. I call her Baby because Mummy and Daddy still aren’t certain about her name. They think it’s going to be Oonagh but might change their minds. Ava is being goody-goody-yuk-yuk. Grandad has told us it’s polite to wait until everybody has been served before stuffing your mouth. Ava is hungry but being a goody-goody-yuk-yuk sits and looks longingly at the food. Ellie’s sitting at the baby table. She’s already eating, the polite rule doesn’t apply to her so she’s goody-goody-yuk-yuk too. Nobody is paying any attention TO ME!
Ava asks for some tomato ketchup and Granny gives the bottle to me to give to her and I put it on the floor and pick it up with the picky-up thingy and lift it high over the table where it falls straight on top of Ava’s head. Nana says, ‘Deidre, please put that down and sit properly at the table.’ Well I do but don’t put down the picky-up thingy, I keep fiddling with it under the table. Grandad says, ‘Deidre, Nana has just asked you to put it down.’
Then something comes over me that I cannot explain and I WON’T put down the picky-up thingy. And Grandad says, in his “look out there’s trouble coming” voice, ‘Deidre, PUT IT DOWN!’ And now everybody is paying attention to me. I look at Grandad. He takes my plate away and says, ‘No food until you put it down.’ and Daddy sighs and says, ‘Oh come on now Deidre’ and he takes the picky-up thingy away from me. And this is horrible, horrible, horrible and I’m crying and I run upstairs to a bedroom.
Then Daddy comes up with my plate of food, ‘Would you like to eat it up here?’ ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘but I don’t want the cabbage.’ And Daddy dries my eyes and says, ‘That’s all right.’ And I say, ‘Can you bring up the ketchup?’
Cracking little piece of flash fiction. You really captured the voice of the child perfectly, and what a sweet ending!