“I was raised by fungus.”
The woman wore a widebrimmed hat, tight black Tshirt,
baggy black pants, black gloves and black sunglasses.
“My mother and father lost control of their car on a remote Forest Service road. My parents were killed, I was not. The fungus that found me raised me as their own.”
Patricia reached for the stainless steel thermos next to her. Her fingers brushed its surface, then she pulled her hand back.
“Does your upbringing make it difficult for you to function in normal society?”
“Does yours?” The fungal woman shrugged. “I have many traits that are making it difficult to assimilate into mammalian society. I live in the dark, eat what you consider garbage, sweat a poisonous secretion, and reproduction is . . . problematic. That’s why I’m here, to learn how to fit in with,” she curled her upper lip, “people.”
Patricia leaned back in her chair.
“Let’s think about the ways people interact positively with fungus. We cook with them, for example.”
The woman leaned forward.
“We are not all shiitake,” she hissed.
“A characteristic of mushrooms is that they take on the flavor of what they are cooked with. Maybe it is possible to absorb characteristics other than flavor.”
Fungal woman leaned back.
“Do you suggest any recipes?”
“Try hot tubbing. If that doesn’t work, you might have to get more creative. Choose your ingredients carefully.”
The woman stood and began a slow, bobbing approach towards Patricia. In the light of Patricia’s lamp, her skin looked oily. She opened her arms.
“Perhaps I’ll start with you.”
The woman stopped, then turned.
“Pay Denise on your way out. Don’t touch her. ”
Patricia picked up a book and flipped through the pages. She touched her intercom.
“Is she gone, Denise?”
“Get me a portabello sandwich,” said Patricia Thirdday, Problem Solver.