Tiny-fiction ‘Mushrooms’

(I wish this was fiction)

I got home that afternoon feeling like a wild explorer, a Grizzly Adams for the twenty-first century, corduroy jacket and a jute bag full of picked blewitts; they were blewitts, (They really were.)  I felt very liberal-middle class – the good kind, (not the look-down-their-nose kind) the home-school, artsy, Nigella Lawson cookbook kind.

So with windows open on a golden, autumn afternoon, and the street below humming with the warm sound of shoppers and kids playing, I turned on the hob.  Rough slice your mushrooms, fine chop garlic, olive oil, fry – whilst a thick slice of bread rubbed with oil grills

Homemade bread too, self sufficient almost (satisfying images of Felicity Kendal getting loose in the kitchen on the homemade wine).

            An hour later and I’m online, and curious, were they blewitts?  They were certainly delicious.  Several thousand sites want to help me and I begin to scroll through photos until – that was it – tall stem, pale brown cap quite flat like an umbrella that’s been caught by the wind and is just about to pop inside-out.  Click – and wait a few seconds – dial-up unfurls my page slowly.

Death…Cap…Mushroom…Do…Not…Eat, five items left to load and each one looking more and more like what I’ve just consumed.  Seven days to live – massive organ failure – liver – kidneys – no known treatment.

            Your first reaction would be make yourself sick, right?  I mean I felt sick by then so I had a go but nothing came up.  I heard the front door.

            ‘Hey are you alright?’

            ‘Well, I…’  I giggled with embarrassment, my flatmate dropped his bags, I was on the brink of hysteria.

            ‘What’s up, are you ill?’

            ‘I ate poisonous mushrooms.’

            ‘You’ve turned grey, you don’t look well.’

            ‘It might be nothing, I was sure they were just blewitts.’

 Accident and Emergency – and I confess all to various different people at different stages of triage.  Why did you eat the mushrooms?  They ask and I realise that they think I’m a drug user or weirdo. 

‘No…you don’t understand, I’m a teacher, they were sautéed in olive oil.’

            ‘Show me the one you ate.’ The doctor asked when I was in her office.  All she’d done was Google it.

            ‘That,’ she scrolled down; it was the same damn one.

            She read – apparently inner-city doctors don’t have a clue when it comes to poisonous mushrooms.

            ‘Right well, we’ll admit you, I think…should we?  It says there isn’t much we can do but I think we should – at least – observe you.

 They WERE blewitts, I’m here now writing this so they were definitely blewitts which kind of vindicates me (I mean I’m no expert). 

 It’s a unique experience to spend seven days like a fugitive, worried and tense.  Travelling the country seeing friends and relatives, hugging, apologising, crying.  Every damn twitch, every rumble in my gut sending me to the bathroom sweating and staring at myself in the mirror.  

Staring at my mortality.

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4 thoughts on “Tiny-fiction ‘Mushrooms’

  1. Where did you pick these blewits? What on earth were you thinking?!

    I love the idea of foraging for edible delicacies but I don’t trust myself not to pick something poisonous. It’s such a shame. There’s a lovely cherry tree near my apartment which turns the pavement purple with its fruit. I could save myself a fortune if I’d dare to pick the berries. I’m nervy about getting funny looks too. Maybe I should try foraging in a park first before starting on the city centre. There’d be fewer fumes for a start.

    • I once ate a load of ‘redcurrants’ also but they were poisonous Rowan berries. Basically if it doesn’t weap white juice it’s not too bad, that’s my golden rule. But that doesn’t count for Rowan and Death Cap Mushrooms, both of which taste nice! Theres also a bitter weed which looks like sorel that always used to make my mouth sting. yuk. Cherries are fine, there’s no similar poisonous thing that I know of. Cherry trees are everywhere and people don’t pick them, but the supermarket ones are rubbish compared. Also wild strawberries and raspberries, but they are often really small and hard to find, they taste well better. How you getting on with The God of Small Things?

  2. The God of Small Things has about 22 chapters and I think I’m on chapter 4. That’s not too bad if you consider chapters 1 & 2 take up the first third of the book.

    I’ve found the start a little hard going. I’m hoping that now I’ve reached the shorter chapters things will move along more quickly. How about you?

    What are the rules about foraging? If you find it you can eat it? Or just, it’s yours as long as you don’t get caught?

    There are wild blackberries near my workplace but the birds and wild rabbits tend to get the best ones. Someone at work sells wild mushrooms but I haven’t dared eat any. I wouldn’t know what is safe and what isn’t.

  3. Pingback: Culture Cramming Challenge | Manchester Meanders

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