Of Pi

A perfect circle. Their smiling faces. A photograph for always.

The taste of the pie was slightly off. He was not sure when exactly it had been baked, and there was no way that he could broach the subject without upsetting her, and he didn’t like to upset her. Father had upset her and he had never come back.

His best friend didn’t look well. His other friends looked off-colour as well.

Why did they keep eating the pie even though each of them suspected that there might be something wrong with it? Well, what were you going to do, send her spiralling into a rage and risk a beating?

Why had they let their children go around to the house in the first place, when they all knew what she was like? They had felt sorry for Ernst, that was why. Sympathy can be the perfect blinders if you allow it. Politeness can shovel the dirt in on top of that shallow grave.

What exactly was that taste? He had eaten things that had turned bad before, and he had the notion that the whole thing didn’t just turn uniformly bad – that some parts tasted worse than others. Maybe that wasn’t true – but this tasted awful in a way that struck him as oddly uniform.

His best friend fell over first, and for the rest of his life he would never forget that awful sound of his head cracking against the table, and splitting open like a coconut. The amount of blood shocked him. When you see something so strange once, you can be forgiven for thinking yourself unlikely to see the same strangeness twice. Three times and coincidences dies even as your rationality struggles to wrestle the situation into a palatable framework. All of his friends fell over; all of them began bleeding. He felt a stream running from his own nostrils, and stuck out his tongue to taste what it might be – because it did not run across his lip like the sluggish gelatin of snot. He tasted blood.

They said that the only reason he survived is because his mum had been trying to slowly poison over the last ten years of his life, but had never quite committed to finishing the job, and so he had, by degrees, developed an immunity.

Pie. Never again would he be able to hear the word without cringing. Never again would he be able to dip into that multiflavoured world.

Was his obsession with Pi concurrent that event? Surely. How could it not be? That circle of friends gathered around the circle of poisonous pastry.

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