She pulled out the packet from the cupboard and turned it over to read the label on the back. The list of instructions was longer than expected and she frowned. How hard could it be? She fought an urge to skim the text and just search for the details she wanted and instead made a point of reading dutifully from one step to the next. More than a few times she found herself scowling impatiently at the idiocy this must have been comprised for. Were people really that stupid? Did they really need to be told all this? The fact that the warnings and observations were present suggested that they did.
She shook her head and put down the packet and hunted around for the specified items. While she prepared and emptied the packet into the bowl she pondered how many people actually followed the directions to the letter. And whether it actually made much difference even if they didn’t. It was all the same. The brand rarely mattered at all. Perhaps one flavour or consistence was slightly different from the other but truly she sometimes even doubted that. Could it not simply be perception that caused one to be favoured over the rest? She was sure of it.
The empty packet lay on the table before her and she moved to toss it away. She didn’t need it anymore now that she had the details she wanted. The label suggested that it be cut out and saved for future reference, but why should she? After all, if she wanted it again, she’d just get another packet. It would have the same applicable label pasted onto it and she wouldn’t have to remember anything. That simple. Use and throw away. There was plenty where it came from.
As she closed the bin an image flashed through her mind of faces looking up at her. Hands reaching out. Voices that called without words or sounds. She flinched and stepped back. They too had worn labels when she first met them…. Had she followed their directions? Had she even read them? She thought she might have… in some cases. She carefully opened the bin again, reluctantly surveying its contents. Some of the labels still showed and she frowned. Most said the same thing…. “hopeful”…
She felt her stomach turn and swallowed hard against the urge to vomit. She would have sworn it didn’t say that on them before. They had seemed so off-putting in appearance… too garish, too crude, too cheap… that she had dismissed them without paying much attention to the fine print. She never looked closely enough to see “hopeful” tossed in there with all the pomp and glitter.
Slowly the lid drifted shut and she was again alone with her thoughts. The bowl stood where she’d left it. Somehow it didn’t seem such a treat anymore.
Having followed each step meticulously the result showed to be everything promised on the box… still, she felt… let down. She picked up the empty packet again and examined it closer, looking some kind of answer for that to do next. Now where were instructions when you needed them?
She eyed the half-empty fruit bowl nearby thoughtfully. The banana had all but gone brown and the strawberries had seen better days too. Still, she picked them up and started carefully slicing them until a neat pile of red and yellow lay before her. She smiled softly as the scent of fruit filled the air and was surprised to find her mouth watering a little. It made her think of the upturned faces in the bin again… it didn’t have to be that hard, did it? It actually was amazing just how much a little more time and effort could offer…