“I’m sick of eating like a baby!” Al whined, glaring at his bowl of mashed potatoes and beef broth. He turned his eyes to the other side of the hospital room he shared with Edward.
Ed sat on the edge of his bed with his trey in front of him fully enjoying his own food: herb roasted chicken, steamed vegetables and a buttery dinner role. Al’s mouth watered as he enviously eyed his brother’s meal.
“Brother, can I pleeeeeeease have just one tiny bite of that chicken?” Al pleaded. “Or maybe just an itty bitty piece of the role?”
Alphonse Elric had fantasized that as soon as he had his body back he would be able to immerse himself in the multi-sensory experience of delicious food. Unfortunately, there were aspects of having a body that had been trapped in an inter-dimensional void for the past five years that he had failed to account for. Among these things was the fact that Al’s shrunken stomach was so estranged to having anything in it that it immediately rejected most solid substances. This lead to painful bouts of vomiting that drained what little energy he had. So for the first two weeks after returning to his flesh and blood body, Al was restricted to semi-solid food that would give his body the sustenance he desperately needed without overwhelming his sensitive digestive system.
“No, Al,” Ed insisted. “You might start throwing up again. No solids until the doctors say so, remember?”
“I know, I know. I just imagined food like Gracia’s quiche, Teacher’s smoked pork chops, Riza’s coffee cake, ooooooh…Winry’s apple pie…”Al’s sentence trailed off as he slipped into a daydream of flavorful comfort foods and rich deserts.
“I know, Al. I’m sorry it has to be like this right now./ But as soon as your body’s healthy enough, you can have all the quiche and pork chops and cake and pie you want. You can eat ‘till you’re fat as Lieutenant Breda, I promise.”
Al laughed. “Oh no. Once I get this body healthy, I’m going to keep it that way. I would like to build up some good muscle, though.” Al quickly specified, “NOT like Major Armstrong. More like…” Al momentarily contemplated a male body he would like to someday be comparable to. “More like Jean Havoc.”
Al looked back down at his potatoes, but this time not with as much contempt. “Thanks, Ed. I’m going to eat all my potatoes and broth so that someday soon I can have some real food.”
“Here,” Ed picked up his jug of milk, crossed the short distance between their two beds and set the jug on Al’s trey. “You need the extra calcium.”
“Al laughed again and rolled his eyes. “How generous of you.” In one go, Al drank the entire jug of milk, then smiled at Ed with a white half-circle above his upper lip.
Ed shook his head. “I’ll never understand how you can drink that vile cow juice.”
“It’s good!” Al insisted.
“Whatever. More for you means less I have to deal with.”
The two ate the rest of their meal in comfortable silence. Soon after they both finished, their daytime nurse Miranda Clark entered the room carrying two fancy glass dishes.
“I thought you boys might like some desert.” The nurse set a dish of strawberry ice cream in front of each of them.
“Wow, thanks Miranda,” Ed said with a wide smile.
“Yes, thank you so much!”
“Now Al,” Miranda warned, “That has chunks of strawberries in it. The doctor said it would be alright to give to you, but if your stomach gets upset even a little bit, you let us know, alright?”
“I will. Thank you.”
“You’re very welcome, both of you. I’ll check on you again when I make my last evening rounds. Ella Fielding will be your night nurse tonight.”
“You know, Brother,” Al said after the nurse was gone. “Miranda reminds me a lot of Mom.”
“Yeah, me too,” Ed agreed, taking a large bite of ice cream. “And Ella reminds me of Winry.”
“Yeah, she does a bit.” Al took a bite of ice cream with a large chunk of strawberry in it. Instantly his eyes widened like saucers. “OhmygodEdthisisdelicious!”
Ed laughed. “See, Al? Strawberry ice cream wasn’t even on your list.”
Al shook his head. “Actually, ice cream in general is. So are strawberries.”
Al pulled out his travel journal from the drawer of his bedside table, opened it to the list entitled, “Things I want to eat when I get my body back,” and used the pencil he kept inside the binding to cross off both ice cream and strawberries.
Perhaps he wasn’t living his dream of home-cooked wonder just yet, but that was okay for now. It was at long last within his reach and he could be patient just a little while longer, especially if that meant the body he finally had back would be healthy.
No, it wasn’t apple pie, not by a long shot. But for now, Al could defiantly make due.