“Yes, sir? I mean, Melchett, um.”
Melchett looked towards the boy as he poked at some vegetables on his plate with a heavy hand and heart.
“I’ve just spent the last hour saying ‘Yes, sir’ pretty constantly. I didn’t mean that you were a sir.” George explained quickly.
“I could be a ‘sir’.” Melchett murmured moodily, and inaudibly as he could.
“George,” Melchett began again, “There’s someone…” His face turned a little paler and he stopped.
“This carrot,” Melchett blurted, “There’s this carrot.”
“Yes,” George gazed at the carrot on the plate with an expression of fixed concentration. He lifted a forkful of asparagus into his mouth, and continued to study the carrot as he chewed. It was a solitary, sad looking carrot, pushed to the side of the plate. Melchett didn’t like carrots much and hoped that no one would bother him with it if he just ate up all the greens.
“This, um, this carrot,” the head boy continued nervously, “it knows it’s a carrot but, um… It really likes other carrots,” He reached over with his fork and pronged one of the same vegetables from George’s plate, “You don’t mind, do you?”
“I don’t really like carrots.”
Melchett melted a little, before giving a cough and picking up from where he’d left.
“This carrot is really very keen on this other carrot, you see. He just doesn’t know how to tell him- it, I mean it.”
“I’m feeling quite attached to this carrot now.”
“You are?” Crimson heat stalked up through Melchett’s neck at a frustratingly fast pace.
“It’s a sweet, shy little thing, isn’t it? I’d take them both to the dorms if they weren’t covered in gravy.”
“Oh, that is a shame.”
“I don’t know if I’ll give Flossy any more carrots.”
“Don’t say that. I don’t suppose most carrots think very much about anything.”
“I hope you’re right. Flossy loves carrots.”
Another little cough and, “Anyway, these carrots. They… This one carrot, it wants to tell the other carrot how dreadfully keen it is but it doesn’t know how. At first it thought that it didn’t like the other carrot at all, but that was only because,” Melchett had ran out of carrots. He stabbed desperately at a piece of broccoli, “The other carrot likes broccoli more. In the special way. The carrot’s not really the type to be special…”
“I think you’re confused.”
For one brief moment, that glimmered and shone in Melchett’s memory throughout the night and the morning after, George looked like he understood.
“You-you…” Melchett swung his fork of broccoli about nervously, “But they’re two carrots. And there’s broccoli. And-and broccoli is a lot more… green than…”
At exactly the wrong moment, there came a tap on Melchett’s shoulder.
“One of the new ‘uns ‘as vomited.” Pinkerton-Fletcher announced serenely, “Your turn to sort it out Melch.”