Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fiction: Occlusion by Brian Tucker

“You take the chocolate marshmallow thingies, and I’ll keep the Nerds and Sweet Tarts,” she told me, divvying out the first batch of candy. She never did like marshmallows. I think that had to do with the close call last Halloween when she almost choked on a S’more. A marshmallow lodged in her throat and a look of terror had dad running for the water pitcher. He poured half a liter down her mouth, spilling it on her shirt. I gave her a big hug when she had stopped coughing. As a big brother, I had to make sure she didn’t turn blue again. So, I let her pick first what chocolates and sweets she wanted this year.

“Soph, just as long as I get some Butterfingers, I don’t care what else you take.”

“But, you love Zero bars, too. And I saw one of those when we poured it on the scale,” she said, sifting through the lovely rubble.

“Yeah gimme that one. I didn’t see it.”

“What about the Almond Joys, bub? You love coconut,” she added.

Mom smiled at us, and she checked her watch and yawned as if the time forced her into a routine. “Get ready for bed you two. That candy will be there tomorrow. It looks good.”

“But mom…,” Sophie started.

“You heard me. Besides, daddy needs to check those last two pieces of fruit for dangers.”

Sophie exhaled. I snuck a couple of pieces of Juicy Fruit into my pants pocket. My sister looked to me for support and all I could think to say was “Just let us sort it out ma. Please?”

“We’ll be fast,” I urged her.

“Better be. Dad is fixing to turn the lights out,” Sophie added.

Mom went up the stairs arms folded once more. Her silhouette playing across the white wall as she ascended slowly. Dad came into the room and asked, “Is it bedtime?”

Sophie shook her head. I said, “Not yet dad. Mom said we could sort our candy real fast.”

A bodiless voice from upstairs said, “I told them they could honey. Let them pick their candy and then brush their teeth for bed.”

“’Night dad,” I offered, hoping he’d go up quicker. His steps sounded like the dinosaur that jarred the ground in the Jurassic Park movie, as he marched up to mom.

“Let’s get this sorted. We’ll lay it out in piles of chocolate and regular sugar candy like Gobstoppers and Runts and…,” Sophie said, thinking for another example.

Picking up the Bit O Honey she said, “What about this? What is it?”

“Oh. The Bit O Honey,” I half-shrieked. “Those are great. They taste like honey but better.”

“Like a Sugar Daddy?” Sophie asked.

“And bite-size,” I added, encouragingly.

Sophie offered a small hand for the Bit O Honey. The bright red and yellow wrapper fit well into her palm, and the smiling bee made me think about the first time I had savored one.

Sophie un-wrapped the bee wrapper from the honey flavored candy and stuck it into her mouth. For some reason, I lunged for the wrapper that had fallen to the ground, thinking the candy was still within. To my dismay, I looked up and saw her grinning with the candy beneath her big teeth. I could smell the honey. She said around the Bit O Honey, “You told me to try it, bub.”

I looked at her jeering face and then at the pile of candy below us. Searching for I don’t know what, I mumbled that I would find a better piece. Maybe an undiscovered Sweet Tart. King size. Her smile withstood my threat, because she said she had already checked. King size weren’t sold here. Weren’t sold in Kentucky. I told her I didn’t believe that. She said go ask mom, and I pushed her because I was mad.

“What’s wrong?” I asked Sophie, as she fell backwards over the sugary wreckage. I felt a drop of sweat slide down my back. The light upstairs came on and mom asked what was wrong, too. I didn’t know. Sophie was coughing. That was all. My mind lurched back to last year, to the image of a S’more, to an occlusion, dad had called it. I regretted giving my sister that Bit O Honey. Her blue coloring returned as Sweet Tarts were kicked frantically from side to side by her small legs. Desperately, I prayed for a silhouette at the top of the stairs.

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