A.N. Inspired by a random thought I had about chalk and its many uses.
"Here you go, Brother."
Ed didn't even look up from his book when Al set the sandwich next to him, merely grunting his thanks and turning a page. Al sat across the table from him and checked their surroundings for librarians. They always got snippy when his brother ate in the library, but Ed just wasn't patient enough to take a break and go across the street for lunch. If he remembered to eat lunch at all.
Al returned his attention to his brother, who still hadn't touched the sandwich. He sighed pulled another book toward him.
"Brother?" Al asked. "What's chalk made of?"
Ed blinked and it took him several seconds to realize it wasn't the book that had spoken. He looked up. "Eh?"
"Chalk," Al repeated. "What's it made of?"
That gave Ed pause for thought. He rubbed his eyes and gazed up at the ceiling as if it held all the answers. "Off the top of my head? No clue. Does it matter?"
Al turned another page idly. "My chalk is getting low and it occurred to me that it might be cheaper to make it ourselves using alchemy as opposed to buying it."
"Maybe," Ed mumbled, clearly not interested in the conversation.
"Are you going to eat your sandwich?" Al asked after a moment.
"It smells funny," Ed said absently.
Al gaped at his brother. "I went all the way across the street to get that for you and all you can say is that it smells funny?"
"Do you have one with you?"
"No, I only got the one sandwich! And I'm not getting you another one!"
"Not the sandwich, the chalk!"
Al fished out a stick of chalk from somewhere and set it on the table. Ed clapped his hands and seconds later the chalk had been deconstructed to a pile of white powder.
"It's calcium sulfate," Ed said definitively and plopped back down in his seat. "There you go."
"So that's calcium, sulfur and oxygen," Al said to himself. He looked from the white powder to Ed and back again. "A little help, Brother? That was my last one."
"Your last one?" Ed repeated incredulously. "Didn't I just buy you a pack of them a week ago?"
"You'd be surprised how fast it goes," Al said loftily.
Ed scowled and clapped again, restoring the chalk to its original form. "So all we've got to do is stock up on the ingredients," he said. "Oxygen is pretty much free, so it's just the calcium and sulfur we'd have to worry about. Where would we get those?"
Al mused on that. "Milk has lots of calcium…"
"We're not buying that crap!" Ed growled. "And anyway, it'd be a waste of money just for the calcium."
"Not if you drink it after we remove the calcium."
"Calcium is the only thing milk's got going for it! Drinking it without the calcium would be like…like…it just wouldn't even be worth it, ok?!"
A librarian emerged from the shelves nearby and Al snatched up the sandwich, hiding it under the table until she passed. Ed tapped his pencil against the table with his eyes still on the chalk.
"Rocks," Ed said finally. "There's got to be calcium in rocks and stuff on the road."
Al carefully set the sandwich back on the table. "But could we find enough to even make one stick?"
"I think it's worth a shot," Ed pointed out. "Especially if we could find a way to make your chalk for free. Save us money on the road."
"What about the sulfur?" Al inquired. "I can't think of any place we could get that for free."
Ed's free hand lifted the sandwich from the plate, holding it near his mouth thoughtfully. "I know there's some sulfur in matches," he muttered, "but a book of matches costs about as much as a packet of chalk. And when you factor in all the work just to get the calcium…I guess it is cheaper and to just buy the chalk and be done with it."
"And easier," Al added.
Ed stood and walked around a nearby shelf to find another book, sandwich still in hand. Almost immediately, Al heard him start choking and Ed came back into view with a murderous expression in his eyes and twelve pieces of chalk sticking out of his mouth. Al didn't even look up.
"By the way, Happy April Fool's Day, Brother."