Funny Kids

I can tell you this. It looked promising from the outside, a general pleasing aesthetic complimenting the pink neon sign, the words ‘Daybreak Diner,’ flashing. The look of a classic diner, fuchsia built in leather seats, surrounding the oval-shaped tables. I walked in with my family, waiting to be seated. After two minutes or so, I started looking around, to see if anyone was coming. I caught sight of a waitress heading in our direction, but in the last minute she turned around, heading back to the bar. At this point, hints of agitation had built up inside of me, as I tried to stuff it back down, repeatedly telling myself, calm down, Amy, it’s fine; have patience. I shoot my daughter, Paisley, a look of restlessness. Luckily, she got my message, and held a perfectly manicured hand up, attempting to attract attention. A woman, who looked about fifty approached us, smiling as she led us to the table. Thankfully, it was pretty clean, and we sat, our eyes scanning the menu. Paisley ordered a simple grilled cheese with fries to share with her sister, my husband requested a burger, and I ordered a portion of mac and cheese as well as two sprites and a Coke Zero. The waitress repeated the order, before she bustled off to the kitchen. 

After about twenty minutes or so, the food arrived, a greasy demeanour on the plastic white plates. The mac was a mustard yellow colour, the ‘cheese’ leaking of the curls of pasta. I picked up a forkful, shovelling it into my mouth, instantly repelling at the touch of the chilled taste that coated my tastebuds. I shook my head in disgust, cringing as the fake, sour taste spread. The pasta was as hard as anything. I’m pretty sure the mac and cheese had no actual cheese at all, just filled with the unpleasant creaminess of cheese sauce which you get with nachos. I desperately tried to swallow, finally succeeding with an unsettling gulp. I slid the plate back, not even wanting to look at it.

I glanced over at Paisley and Aubrey, watching as they daintily poked at the sandwiches in front of them. Aubrey made a face at me and whispered, “They’re freezing, Mum.” 

I shrugged and told her to just try it. I could see that they were dreading it. Paisley took a careful bite, chewing in a thoughtful manner. Her nose twitched as she processed the taste. Something came over her, lurching forwards, an unknown look plastered across her face. 

She pushed the plate towards me. “You try,” she said, swallowing. The first thing I noticed was the smell: rancid, artificial. I breathed a sigh of defeat as I ripped off a piece, popping it into my mouth, regret already filled me. I understood the repulsive expressions they had made. The bread wasn’t toasted, the most appalling taste washing around in my mouth. The cheese gritty was a texture, stuck to my teeth, gluing my lips together. The fabricated cheesy essence on my tongue sent a shiver down my arms. Until then, I didn’t know that food could make you feel so…icky. Especially something as simple as a grilled cheese.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t force myself to swallow. I attempted to mime to my husband that I needed a drink, but apparently, he didn’t get the message. I pointed to a glass, pretending to tip a drink into my mouth. He was absolutely besotted with his burger, taking mouthfuls at at time, stuffing fries into his gob, as if he couldn’t get enough.

Well, that’s him I suppose. 

He pointed to his burger, then gave it a thumbs up. Despite my longing for a decent meal, I declined his offer, with a simple shake of my head, the grainy sandwich still in my mouth. Aubrey rushed to the counter, grabbing a glass of water from the bar tender. I downed it gratefully, finally the chunk of panini slithering down my throat, relief coursed through my veins.

Hands down, that was the worst meal I’ve ever tasted.

Without warning, Paisley jumped up, dashing away from the table and into the restroom. “Is she alright?” I asked stupidly. I hadn’t realised what happened. 

“I don’t—” started Aubrey, before her hand flew to her mouth as she scrambled after her sister into the loo. I shot my husband a quizzical look, and stand up, intent on checking on my daughters. Then I feel it.

A wave of nauseousness came over me, so powerful I could’ve drowned in it. I felt my eyes flicker to the back of my head, as I ran, one hand over my mouth, the other on my stomach to the bathroom. My ears are met with a cacophony of retching. It was truly revolting. The stench of puke filled the air, as I threw up.

I won’t get into details, because it was, quite frankly, disgusting. But we were in there a long time. Everything we had eaten in the last twenty-four hours had been vomited up, leaving us hollow inside. 

We slowly recovered, breathing heavy breaths, steadying ourselves. We stumbled out the ladies, a tornado of dizziness clouded our minds. We head back to the table, shocked expressions on our faces as their dad continued to scoff down food. 

“We just puked.” That was Aubrey.

“Oh God! Was it the food?” My husband replied, idiotically.

“Ya think?”

“I feel so sick.”


We take small sips of water, the only thing we can be sure that is safe. We received looks of sympathy and confusion from other customers as we sat, death staring our meals. 

I raise my hands, calling a waiter over.


“Excuse me, this has given my daughters and I food poisoning,” I explained, somewhat angrily.

“Woah, ma’am, you can’t go round saying that!” He says, taken aback.

Excuse me? Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot say?” I shot daggers at him. How dare he talk to me like that!

“Sorry, but we would appreciate if you could keep that to yourself,” he gave me a daunting screwed-up smile.

“No! I will not keep it to myself. I have been retching up this revolting food for the past fifteen minutes. Just look at it! Does that look appetising? No, it does not! The mac and cheese has no actual cheese, just some cheese sauce! The grilled cheese is simply just two pieces of freezing cold bread with grainy cheese in the middle. How can you mess up something as easy as a cheese sandwich? Absolutely outrageous.”

His eyes flittered up to his head, as if to say, ugh, will she stop complaining? Instead, he asked if he should get the manager.

“Yes, do.” I replied.

A man walked towards us. A scruffy beard covered half his face as well as the top half of his tomato-stained shirt. He looked as if he was in his mid-thirties, scruffiness engulfing him. He obviously spent too much time partying in college, not enough studying, I suppose. Why else would he be running this horrid diner? At least run a nice restaurant, I thought. 

“Hello, my daughters and I have just had food poisoning,” I repeat, looking into his vacant brown eyes.

“Oh dear. Should we get a doctor? What have you eaten?” He questioned, not looking very interested.

“This,” I gestured to the mac and the grilled cheese. “It was, no offence, but horrific.”

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your meal,” he sounded bored, almost patronising.

“What have you put in this?” I asked and shook my head once again.

“Just the usual…bread, cheese, pasta.”

“But something is obviously wrong.”

“I’ll take a look then.”

“You haven’t already?”

“Erm, we’ll get on that right away…” his eyes darted around, desperate to escape my glares.

“And I’m sure you can understand why paying now would be most inappropriate.” My girls shot him smug glances.

“Sorry?” His eyes widened, daring me to repeat what I just said.

“I’m not paying. I refuse to pay for food that poisoned my children.” I tilted my head up, like a kid refusing to eat their vegetables.

“Ma’am, this has not been discussed,” his voice wavered generously. Intimidation cast a shadow on his shabby face. 

“It is being discussed now.”

“I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.” He narrowed his eyes, so they were nothing more than slits. His tone varied drastically from the nervous manager, so something more serious, sinister almost.

“Why not?” Butt in Paisley. “I just spent the last twenty minutes vomiting up your gross food, and it was horrible, even before I puked it all up.” Her eyes challenge him, fearlessness burning in them.

“I guess I’ll just have to write a TripAdvisor review, then. Zero stars,” I said.

“Fine, fine! You win, you get your refund! But no review, alright?” He negotiated, frightened of the lack of customers to come. Defeat as well as animosity laced in his voice.

“Alright then,” I said, getting up. “Goodbye. I can assure you; we will not be back.” With that, I lead my husband and daughters out the Daybreak Diner, slamming their door shut with a satisfying thud.

“I’m still writing that review.”

October 02, 2023 11:03

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