Tag: treats

Flashback Friday: Monster Sweets

This story was originally posted on March 24, 2017. I think that relying on logic and what we expect to see can mean that we miss things.

Eglantine wandered into the poorly lit store that she’d never noticed before. It was squeezed between a coffee shop filled with scruffy people and a grocery store that had closed nearly a decade ago.   She would normally never even look twice at anything along this street, but her car had a flat tire and her phone died, so she needed to find a way to call a tow truck.

There was no one at the counter. Eglantine looked around and couldn’t find a bell to ring either. “Hello? Is anybody there?” she said. She looked around. It certainly was a strange store. I was so dimly lit that it was difficult to see what was on the shelves from here.

“Can I help you?” a low, crackly voice asked. Eglantine nearly jumped in surprise. She hadn’t heard anyone come in.

She turned and faced the young man standing behind the counter. He was tall and thin and pale with dark hair and a bit of an overbite.   He seemed harmless. Eglantine smiled. “Do you have a phone I could use? My battery died and my car has a flat tire.”

“Just a moment.” The young man reached under the counter and picked up an old-fashioned phone that he set down at her elbow.

“Is that a rotary dial? I haven’t seen one of those since I was a little girl.” She smiled and carefully dialed the number. She arranged to meet the tow truck driver in front of the grocery store in twenty minutes.

Task done, Eglantine looked around the store again. “What do you sell here?”

“Sweets for monsters,” the young man said. He looked completely serious. Eglantine looked at his black clothing and pale appearance. The store must cater to teenagers who liked dressing up as vampires and such.

Eglantine had always had a bit of a sweet tooth. She didn’t mind playing along with the theme, as long as the candy tasted good. “What would you recommend?”

“What kind of monster are you?” the young man asked.

Well, that was hardly helpful. “Does it matter?”

The young man looked confused. “Of course it does.” He waved towards a dark shelf that looked like most of the others. “Just look at the lollipops. Vampires like blood pops, werewolves like meat pops, and zombies like brain pops.”

Those were terrible flavor names. And they didn’t really hint at what the flavors really tasted like. Kids and their strange obsessions. “What’s your bestseller?” Eglantine asked.

The young man pointed to a box on the counter filled with bland looking packaged bars of some type. “This far from Halloween we sell a lot of spectral energy bars.”

Ugh.   Protein bars. “Do they taste good?”

The young man blinked. “They don’t taste like anything.”

Eglantine laughed. “I believe it.” She checked her watch. The tow truck driver would be here in a few minutes. If she was going to buy herself a treat, she’d need to decide on something soon. “So, what do you think I would like?”

“If you like jam, we have a new shipment in,” the young man said.

“Sure,” she said.   “I’ll get a baguette on the way home and have toast and jam and hot cocoa.” She smiled. She could already see herself curled in her favorite chair watching the weather channel and enjoying her treat. “Pick out two. Surprise me,” she said.

“All right.” The young man walked around the counter to a nearby shelf and picked up two little jars. He put them into a little plain paper bag with handles and set it on the counter. He rang up the purchase on an old-fashioned register. “How will you be paying?”

“Cash.” She handed him a bill that would comfortably cover the cost. “Keep the change,” she said. “Thanks for the help.”

She hurried over to her car. Just as she arrived, the tow truck pulled up. In all the hassle of dealing with the tow truck and the repair shop, she forgot all about the jam until she was driving home that evening. “Oh, I need to stop at the bakery.” She was able to just make the turn in time.

Before going into the bakery, she decided to peek at the jars the young man had picked out.   Lizard Scale Jelly and Banana Peel and Parsley Jam? What did they really taste like? They sounded terrible. Well, if they tasted bad, at least the jars were cute. She could put them on her desk and use them to hold paperclips and stamps. Really, teenagers these days were so strange.

Flashback Friday: The Thank You War

This story was originally posted on October 12, 2017. I have been told that you aren’t supposed to return someone’s container empty. Instead, you should send a treat to thank them for the treat they sent you. It’s a funny idea, if you look at it the right way.

Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith were leaving the grocery store at the same time one day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing. Everything seemed wonderful. The two neighbors smiled widely at each other. “It’s so good to see you,” Mrs. Jones said.

“It’s been such a long time since we last talked,” Mrs. Smith said. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing well. I just harvested the last of my pears,” Mrs. Jones said. “How have you been?”

“Oh, I do love pears,” Mrs. Smith said. “I’ve been fine. I started singing in the community choir. You should come.”

“I don’t sing, but let me know when your next performance is, and I’ll come cheer you on,” Mrs. Jones said.

And then, the handle of her grocery bag broke, and a cabbage, three carrots, and a can of beans fell out and started to roll away.   Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Jones chased after the escaping groceries.

The carrots hadn’t gone far. Mrs. Jones scooped them up and put them in another bag.   She crouched to fish the cabbage out from under a car. When she straightened up and put the cabbage securely away, Mrs. Smith was returning with the can of beans.

“They almost went into the storm drain,” Mrs. Smith said. “I caught them just in time.”

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Don’t mention it,” Mrs. Smith said.

“I’d better get my groceries home before something else happens,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Of course. I’ll see you later,” Mrs. Smith said.

And the ladies went home and put their groceries away.   That evening, Mrs. Jones brought Mrs. Smith a pear cobbler. “It’s to thank you for helping me with my groceries,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Smith said.

“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Jones said.

A few days later, Mrs. Smith returned Mrs. Jones’s pan.   She put some cookies inside the pan.   “I made you some cookies to thank you for the cobbler,” she said.

“Thank you so much,” Mrs. Jones said.

“You’re welcome,” Mrs. Smith said.

A few days later, Mrs. Jones stopped by to visit Mrs. Smith. She brought a bag of peppermints. “Thank you for the cookies,” she said. “They were delightful.”

“Thank you for the peppermints,” Mrs. Smith said.   “They’re my favorite kind.”

A few days later, Mrs. Smith visited Mrs. Jones.   “No more sweets, please,” Mrs. Jones said. “I’ve eaten far too much sugar this week.”

Mrs. Smith laughed. “Me, too. I don’t have any sweets. Just a flyer for my choir concert. I hope you can come.”

Mrs. Jones smiled. “I’d love to! Thank you.”

“I’m so glad,” Mrs. Smith said. She handed Mrs. Jones the flyer. “Oh, and a thank you card,” she said. She handed Mrs. Jones a card. “For the peppermints. Well, I’ll see you later.” She left, feeling certain she had won.

Three days later, Mrs. Smith was retrieving her mail from the mailbox. She sorted through the bills and advertisements. “Oh, look, this one’s from Mrs. Jones.” She opened it. It was a lovely handmade card. “Thank you for the thank you card,” it said.

Charlie’s Room: Ice Cream

On Friday night, Marianne, Charlie, and Isaac drank cocoa and watched the snow drift slowly through the beam of the street lights. “It’s like living in a snow globe,” Marianne said.

“But who’s been shaking the world?” Charlie asked.

Isaac laughed. “I’ve been told that it’s always spinning in space. I guess that’s enough to shake things up.”

Charlie tipped up his mug and slurped the last of his cocoa. He set his mug on the table with a sigh. “Speaking of shaking things up, why do we always have cocoa in the winter? Why not ice cream?”

“It’s too cold for ice cream.” Marianne set her mug down and wrapped both hands around it with a smile. “A bowl of ice cream wouldn’t warm your hands like this.”

“But I like ice cream.” Charlie looked into his empty mug and sighed again. “Cocoa is always gone too fast.”

Isaac smiled. “I think we can try ice cream in winter and see what we think. I need to go to the grocery store tomorrow for more apples. I’ll go while you both go to the library.”

“That’s a great idea. There are a few other things we need, too. I’ll write a list.” Marianne finished her cocoa and picked up her mug and Charlie’s too, and took them to the sink and rinsed them.

The next morning, Charlie and Marianne left for the library as soon as it opened. Snow still fell gently, but the roads were salted and slushy. Isaac drove to the grocery store. Grimy slush filled the parking lot. Isaac was glad he wore his boots.

Most of the list was fairly easy to gather. However, the ice cream was a little more difficult. There were too many choices. Everything sounded nice. He decided to pick one of the mixed flavors, so that it was like buying more than one type. After eeny miney moe between Neapolitan and Rainbow Sherbet, he ended up with Neapolitan.

Back out in the parking lot, he set his groceries in the trunk and closed it with a thump. Right after, he heard a muffled thump and a yell. Isaac turned. An elderly woman was sprawled in the slush nearby, groceries spilling out of a shopping bag at her side.

Isaac hurried over to help her up. When she tried to stand, she yelped as she put weight on her right foot. Isaac caught her before she nearly fell again. “Lean on me,” he said. “I’ll walk you to that car, then come back for your groceries.” He balanced her weight and walked her to a nearby car. She leaned on it while he hurried back for her bag.

“What do I do? I can’t drive like this.” She tried to wipe the slush off her slacks.

Isaac held out his free arm, her grocery bag dangling from his other hand. “I can help you inside where it’s warm. There’s a bench inside the door. Do you have someone you can call?”

She frowned and patted her pockets. “I left my phone at home.”

“Let’s go inside, and you can use mine. My name is Isaac, by the way.”

“I’m Maude.”

Isaac waited with Maude until her daughter came. Then he helped her into her daughter’s car, and tucked the grocery bag at her feet. He waved them off, and drove home a little later than expected, through a world that still looked like the inside of a snow globe.

Marianne and Charlie were already there, reading their library books at the kitchen table. “I checked out a book for you.” Charlie held up a book. “It’s all about castles. I thought it looked interesting.”

“Thank you. That looks wonderful.” Isaac held up the grocery bag. “I got the ice cream. And the rest of the list, of course.”

“Let’s have some now!” Charlie bounced out of his seat and hurried to the cupboard for bowls and spoons.

Isaac set the bags on the counter and pulled out the ice cream container. It recently spent more than half an hour in the trunk of his car. However, when he opened the container, it was still perfectly frozen.

“I know a good reason to buy ice cream in the winter,” Isaac said happily as he scooped it into bowls.

“What’s that?” Marianne took the receipt from the bag and used it as a bookmark.

“It stays frozen, no matter how long it takes to get it home.” Isaac handed around the bowls and put the rest of the ice cream in the freezer.

For a moment, the kitchen was silent as they enjoyed the ice cream. Then, Marianne paused, spoon in the air. “I just thought of something,” she said. “Do you know what would make this the perfect winter treat? Hot fudge. I’m making some right now.”

“Finish your ice cream first,” Charlie said, pointing at her bowl with his spoon. “It’ll melt.”

“I thought winter kept it frozen.” Marianne smiled, and ate a big bite of ice cream.

Charlie rolled his eyes. “Not inside. It’s too warm inside.”

Isaac smiled. “I’m so glad it is. It’s nice to have a warm house to come home to when it’s cold outside.” Marianne and Charlie smiled. They ate their ice cream, and then Marianne made hot fudge. It became a new favorite winter treat.

Months later, Isaac and Maude saw each other again in a warm, non-slushy parking lot. They waved at each other like old friends. Maude had completely recovered from her fall and looked happy.

Isaac reflected for a moment on life and how a day could contain falls and slush and freezing weather, and also contain snow and library books and ice cream and hot fudge. The good and the bad combined together, bitter stirred into the sweet like flavors of ice cream all mixed together. Did that make hope, love and gratitude the hot fudge that made it all just right? Isaac had no idea. But he smiled as he put his groceries in the trunk of his car and drove home.