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Nell poked at her noodles and snow peas, chased them around the edge of her bowl and then sighed.  She looked up and caught the disapproving gaze of mother and father, their stern mouths set in a line.  No dessert or leaving the table until I finish, she thought, again.  She slumped back into her chair.  After the table was cleared and dishes were done, the parents retired to the living room for raucous reality television time and Nell was left alone in the kitchen.

Her grey, grizzled grandfather padded in slowly and softly, holding his empty bowl.  He lifted his eyebrow as he glanced at Nell, moping in her seat.  Nell shrugged and simply explained, "It's boring."  Grandpa nodded, thoughtfully, and then went to the pantry.  He rummaged around until he came up with a bright red bottle with a rooster label and plonked it on the table.

Nell turned the bottle over in her hands and tentatively squeezed a bright red line of its contents into her bowl.  Mashing it up with her chopsticks, she tentatively took a bite.  And her food bit her back!  Prickles of sweat started rising on her forehead and nose and her mouth felt as if it was swarmed by a colony of fire ants.  Here was a real challenge.  She took another bite and another and felt the ball of fire roll down into her stomach as she swallowed.  Determined to win this battle, Nell attacked her bowl, concentrating on the heat and feeling her way through the sudden mist of red that seemed to obscure her vision.  Minutes later, Nell looked up for the second time that dinner.  Her grandfather took her empty, red-almost-blood stained bowl and shuffled over to the sink.  He winked at her and she, panting, sweating and thirsty, winked back.