C is for Chocolate
Word Count: 841
Whispers on the playground. Too loud to ignore.
~Did you hear about that new chocolate?
~I think Justin’s Dad makes it.
~It’s really popular in Europe.
By the end of the week the conversation had changed just a bit, with everyone except Nick claiming to have tasted the chocolate.
~Sam gave me some yesterday.
~Travis shared with Mike and John.
~Rebecca had two!
Nick tried not to listen. He closed his ears, turned his head, whistled under his breath but in class, in the hallways, at recess, it followed him. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. And in the strange inimitable way of all obsessions, the more he tried not to think of chocolate, the more he wanted some. The more he could taste it, the slight snap as it broke between his teeth, the velvety feel of it on his tongue.
And everyone knew it.
He caught little glances here and there. Smirks out of the corner of his eye. Each and every one of his eleven-year-old classmates seemed intent on making him feel like the last kid picked for the team, except this was chocolate, sweet delectable chocolate and he was the last one to get it. He might, their glances suggested, never get any at all. Ever.
At home that weekend, his mother assured him– there was no special chocolate. The very idea was silly–didn’t he know that? Here, take this Hershey square and be done with it.
But Nick didn’t want a Hershey square. He wanted the special chocolate. The new chocolate.
By Monday at recess, the details had changed slightly. Now the chocolate came in a mug and that was the very finest way to have it, everyone said so.
They asked him, their eyes big, you’ve had it, haven’t you, Nick? And then they smiled gently at him because they knew he had not.
Nick could only purse his lips and walk away and curse his luck.
Without friends, without allies, how was he to get ahold of the chocolate? It was impossible.
The solution presented itself on Thursday. The sun was bright, the clouds fat and cheery. By then everyone had had the chocolate, it was all they talked about, each claiming to have had it two, three, four times, even though Nick never saw them eat it. He wasn’t quick enough it seemed, never saw the evidence of it, no wrappers or empty mugs of chocolate in the trash.
Jeremiah, a boy Nick’s eyes followed day in and day out, claimed to have had it for breakfast all week, stating sadly to three other students (although not Nick, not exactly) –too bad it smelled so horrible. It was the chocolate’s only failing– a great stench to turn your stomach. But so good, so good.
Jeremiah had brought some to school to have during recess. Maybe he’d share it with someone he said, and Nick’s heart beat faster and faster. Someone special.
On that fateful Thursday the day was pregnant with expectation, heavy with it, straining with it. Nick’s hands tingled and he couldn’t concentrate couldn’t even hardly hear what the teacher said to him before recess. He’d just nodded then followed the rest of the kids outside. Wandered over to the wall to watch the others from a safe distance, a ball from the ball bag tucked under one arm in case someone wanted to play with him.
When Jeremiah approached him, Nick was so surprised he dropped the ball and watched it numbly as it rolled away. Others gathered near creating a semicircle around him.
Jeremiah held a mug in one hand, one with a paper handle that must have come from the teacher’s lounge, that den of magic. Nick quivered, too nervous to hear what Jeremiah was saying to him but his intention was obvious. Jeremiah was offering Nick the mug of chocolate.
“Remember it smells awful but it tastes…heavenly,” he said.
“Heavenly,” others said and Nick heard that clearly and couldn’t stop smiling.
He looked in the mug and its contents were brown just as he expected and liquidy which was a surprise. He sloshed it around slightly and he could smell it. It did smell awful, terrible, horrible.
“It’s better to drink it fast,” Jeremiah said. “To get past the smell.” Then he nodded his approval and Nick looked around at all the bright smiling faces–all of them happy for him. Happy that it was his turn to have chocolate and he lifted the mug and put it to his lips and opened his mouth and the liquid splashed across his teeth and over his tongue and down his gullet and before he knew it tears were in his eyes and vomit was in his throat and out of his mouth and he was crying, hysterically weeping and was immediately surrounded by the sweet tinkling sounds of laughter, pure light hearted giggles and he shut his eyes vowing never to open them again.
Never ever, not for the rest of his life.