Last week, Sunny came home from school with an art project wrapped in newspaper and a plastic grocery bag of indeterminate origin.
The bundle sat on the counter as I threw dinner together, until my MIL, with her usual tact, asked me if it was trash that someone should put in the garbage. I rescued it and opened it while she went to call the others.
I looked at the sculpture for a while in wonder, and put it in the center of the table, for a conversation piece.
“What is that?” My MIL asked.
“It’s my purple carrot,” Sunny said, scooping the center out of her dinner roll.
“That’s not a purple carrot,” Jane said. “It’s a . . . squished snake? That isn’t really purple?”
“It’s a fish,” Sunny said. “And his name is Purple Carrot. See? I painted him purple, except the . . . the hot oven thing made it too light.”
“The kiln?” I said.
“Yeah. And Gail said it looked like a carrot, before I made it flat.”
Gail is Sunny’s very best friend and co-conspirator. Everyone needs a Gail, who gives hugs to everyone she meets and may very well be the limitless energy source that will save the world, if anyone can figure out how to keep her still long enough to harness it.
Gail is often quoted around here—or evoked as authoritative approval.
“A screaming purple carrot?” Jane said.
“He’s not screaming. He’s trying to breathe. Gail says—”
“Why is a fish trying to breathe?”
“He’s evolving, Janie! Duh!”
“So,” my husband said. “He’s a lungfish?”
“Yes,” Sunny said. “He’s trying really hard to get them.”
“Get what?” my MIL asked.
“Does evolution even work like that?” Jane asked.
“Maybe he’s a Pokémon,” I said.
“Or a Kirby-fish,” Jane said. “He looks like one of those cleaner fish—what’s that called?”
“Plecostomus?” I asked.
“He’s a Purple. Carrot. Fish,” Sunny said, stabbing at her green beans with her fork. “Gail likes him.”
“He’s fantastic, honey,” I said. “I like him very much, too. His scales are really good and his expression is perfect.”
“And I think Screaming Purple Carrot is a great name for a rock band,” I said, pushing my luck.
She beamed. “That’s what Gail said!”