Made from Scratch

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Things sort of get fast from then on. Finally getting the danger, Domenica calls her work to get a leave. I Phone Dave to tell him we'll be ready tonight more or less and make some food: neither her on Nathan have eaten yet, and given the time span we're gonna have to pack our bags and leave, we'd better gather our strength.

Nathan helps me with the cooking, he peels potatoes like a champ. Seeing how he seems used to the peeler, I guess it's OK for him to use it. I wasn't sure at first. Kids! They're a lot more grown-up than you think, sometimes.

I stir-fry chopped vegetables with a liberal dose of curry paste. I confirmed beforehand that they do like spicy food, as it's a thing that has backfired on me more than once.

"So," says Nathan, "if you're a vegetarian, does that mean that you don't eat all the animals or only some of them, like beef or steak?"

That's so cute I'm giggling again. "Nathan, do you know that beef and steak are the same animal?"

He stares at me with suspicion in his eyes. "You're not making fun of me, are you?"

I stop laughing and nod seriously. "I swear. Beef is a male cow raised for its meat, and the steak is a part of its body."

It makes him think hard. "I knew beef was a cow," he says, "but I really thought steak was made from another one, like chicken."

"Well, you can have chicken steak... I think, but mostly when people tell you they want steak they're talking cow meat. And yes, being vegetarian, for me, it means not eating any animal."

"Even if you eat one by mistake?" says Nathan. "My friend Jeremy said we eat spiders when we sleep. They crawl into our mouths because they don't know any better and we eat them." That thought seems to gross him out quite a lot.

"Hum," I say, "I think it's OK if it's an accident? If an animal jumps into my mouth while I'm asleep, there's not much I can do about it, right? But I can, I try to avoid eating them. I want them to have good, beautiful, full lives just like we do."

Nathan seems bothered by it. "Can I like the animals and still eat them?" he says.

I shrug. "You do what you feel is right. That's the most important. If like me you can not eat animals and be happy with that then it's probably a good idea. Otherwise there might be other good things you can do for the world while you eat meat. What can you do?"

He thinks it over for a while. "I can protect mom and you from the bad god."

I'm not sure if I'm impressed or scared he might try to put himself in harm's way. "That's... pretty good as long as you make sure it can't get to you. Don't do things that might endanger you, OK? I'm pretty sure that to your mom, your safety is more important than anything and I don't want to see her cry."

"Yeah, me neither," he says, anxious. Did I flip the wrong switch?

"It's all right," I say, "I think you've been doing a pretty good job until now. Don't worry about it, just... be a kid." I beam at him.

He frowns in return. "I am a kid," he says like I'm questioning it.

"True that," I say.

The veggies are pretty much cooked, so we set up the table and go knock on Domenica's door so she can eat with us. We exchange a few sideways glances, both of us reveling in the homeliness of it all. Domenica has good news, as local government seems ready to cooperate in warding the people off the mountain, setting a temporary curfew and using a cover story. This really feels like the end of this 'mad god' chapter. I'm not sorry about it.

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