Violet is on a quest to feed her soul. She just doesn’t know it yet!
Violet Halfpenny is not happy. At work, at home, at life. Fed up with being a doormat, she embarks on the quest to feed her soul, thanks to her best mate, Betty. And Kelvin. Violet struggles with her world, her mindset flawed and complicated. In essence, she is a good person but crippled by apathy. Set on the quest, Violet falls into the world of Smorgasbord. As she embarks on a food odyssey, she surprisingly finds enjoyment, fulfilment and nourishment for her soul as she creates a new world. An uplifting Australian novella, Smorgasbord, celebrates the healing power of friendship, the story told with warmth and humour, with kindness at its core. This story plucks at the heartstrings.
‘Crap on a crab stick!’ yelled Violet.
She rounded the street corner to see her tram already sitting at the stop. A young student walking in front of her glanced back warily and quickened his pace. Even if Violet had tried to run, which she had no intention of doing, the tram would likely glide off before she could cross the busy road.
‘Shit, shit, shit, shit, Shiiiiit!’
Violet roared, stopping in her tracks as a cramp seized her calf muscle, no doubt due to the breakneck pace of her walk. She bent down, anxious, gripping her leg as the spasm increased. Lucky that kid was now out of earshot. To her relief, the spasm subsided as she massaged the muscle. Finally, the cramp let go, and the sharp pain eased.
‘So much for a calm start to the week,’ muttered Violet. ‘Useless bloody podcast.’
On the weekend, Violet had listened to several episodes of Kelvin’s Kindlounge, a motivational podcast that Betty, her best mate at work, decided Violet should follow. According to Betty, Violet’s life was in a dreadful rut, and this podcast was going to be her salvation. Violet preferred to think of herself as avoiding stress by avoiding people as most people, in Violet’s humble opinion, were idiots. Though if Violet were honest, she did feel restless lately.
She recalled last night’s Kindlounge episode clearly, the deep and soothing voice of Kelvin floating through her mind:
To ensure a calm start to your week, give yourself the gift of time. Set your alarm clock thirty minutes early. Let peace and serenity emanate throughout your day …
As suggested, she set the alarm earlier, but upon awakening, smashed the snooze button, several times. Finally, Violet got out of bed, half an hour later than usual, gifting herself nothing but chaos. Now that she had missed the tram, she’d have no time to grab a decent coffee before work. Dammit!
Mission failed. Thanks for nothing, Kelvin.
Frankly, all Violet wanted to do was limp home. She could call in sick, curl up on the couch and binge-watch episodes of Parks & Rec for the rest of the day. Now, if she worked there, she would never be tempted to take a sickie!
Her workplace, Budget Busters, had just run a popular television marketing campaign, resulting in a considerable influx of clients. Though the advertisement itself was funny, ‘actual fun’ in the office was the last thing on anyone’s priority list. Violet’s department, Budget Planning, had doubled its client numbers. Typically, the boss had not allocated extra staff to assist with this sudden onslaught of demand, so self-indulgent absences would not go down well. Plus, her new team leader, Tiffany, would make Violet’s life a misery if she didn’t show up. Violet sighed, resigning herself to the fact that it was just easier to go to work.
Muttering expletives, Violet limped the rest of the way to the tram stop, which seemed instantly filled with sleepy-eyed commuters. She spotted a seat on a far bench, where a couple of crisply dressed corporate girls sat chatting. Except for different hair colour and handbag choice, Violet thought, as she walked closer, they looked rather like cloned dolls; the kind with supersized heads bigger than their bodies.
‘Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, but would you mind moving your bags so I can sit down?’ asked Violet. ‘It’s just that I’ve hurt my leg on the way here …’
Tutting loudly and with looks of complete disdain, the girls reluctantly moved their bulky handbags onto their laps, budging up, slightly, to accommodate her.
‘Thanks so much,’ said Violet, politely, though she felt like hurling their bags out onto the track. Another half-remembered spiel from Kelvin’s podcast floated loudly through her mind:
If someone is rude to you, just remember; courtesy is contagious. A polite response can easily reset the mood … Offer kindness, as it is the unkind people who need the most help.
Violet must have missed some vital hint as the mood certainly did not reset, though she was grateful to sit down and rest her leg. She doubted Kelvin had to endure bad-mannered commuters every morning.
As she rummaged in her bag, disentangling the earphones from the gritty mess at the bottom, she felt a gooey glob and vaguely remembered a chocolate bar, half-eaten, from over a week ago. Triple dammit!
‘Did you watch the Smorgasbord premiere last night?’ she overheard the nearest clone ask.
‘Sure did!’ squealed the other. ‘What about that posh redhead saying it’s so easy to cook for twenty people? The judges’ comments put her right back in her place!’
‘I know, right? As if she’d even cook! Call the caterer, more like!’
Both the clones burst into raucous laughter. Violet huffed and, in her bag-rummaging haste to shut out their irritating voices, had managed to yank the snagged earbud clean off its wire. Now she couldn’t even listen to Kelvin’s blasted podcast to distract herself.
How had it been a whole year since the last season of Smorgasbord aired? Last year, everyone in the office went mad for the show, everyone except Violet, it seemed. Her workmates became instant experts on cooking a banquet in any cuisine, though most couldn’t even make a sandwich for their lunch.
The next tram came into view. Violet stood, testing her leg, feeling better for the brief rest, and joined the nearest queue, glad to escape that Smorgasbord conversation. As the tram, a colourful blur, pulled into the platform, the distinctive Smorgasbord logo came into focus. When stopped, large images of the three judges’ faces stared straight at her, eye to eye; two covered in cream pies, comically surprised, the third judge clean-faced and grinning cheekily, dangling a plump cherry on its stalk.
Violet boarded the packed tram and shuffled grumpily along the aisle.
‘Just my luck!’ she moaned to herself through gritted teeth.
The clones stood right behind her, still chattering away about the show.
‘I think the plumber will be a brilliant cook,’ said one of the clones.
‘You just fancy Tradies! What about that banker guy? Now he is just divine!’
Unfortunately, with no room to move, Violet had to endure the clones’ discussion, and by the time the tram reached Town, she felt like she’d watched the premiere herself. On the short walk to her work, she passed an elderly lady carrying a shopping bag emblazoned with the Smorgasbord logo, a bus plastered all over like the tram and a massive illuminated billboard advertising the show. Talk about overexposure, Violet thought, disgusted.