Sunday, August 24, 2008

new short story!!!

Candy Rules
from When Our Love Changed
Rachelmaria Bernardo James

I incited revolution today. I tore the wrapper on my chocolate bar, a known taboo with anyone who has ever eaten chocolate with me, namely my ex, a chocolate addict who tears into bars with extreme haste. I suppose for him the preservation is not important – he’ll finish an entire bar of rich European chocolate in less than a day. I, however, need the wrapper to stay in tact so that I can re-wrap my chocolate after I’ve had my allocated one, maybe two, pieces for the day.

I really do enjoy chocolate, snobbily of course. I eat only dark chocolate, almost always organic, with extraordinarily high cacao content. I ration it to myself. How my rules surfaced, I’m not precisely sure.


I’ve lived in Columbus for two years, half of that time in Clintonville – a fairly well to-do community of artsy hippie types. I live only one and a half miles from the post office and the grocery store, yet I’ve managed to be too lazy to ever walk. So, after my ex hangs up on me (shortly after a phone conversation in which I hang up on him), I decided today is the day I will actually walk. Sexually frustrated, with no exercise and little appetite, and a loneliness so crippling that I’ve just tattooed a bird on my arm “to keep me company” and am now wondering what I will name her, I conclude that walking several miles in fresh air to mail one package and purchase a can of diced tomatoes is exactly what I should do. For extra indulgence, I decide to not take my cell phone with me: that’ll show him!!! (Though, we all know, when I ran to my phone the second I returned to my doorstep, there were no missed calls.)

I like to walk briskly. I take my headphones and choose the default philosophical walk album: The Smiths’ Louder than Bombs. After I’ve sent my package and purchased my groceries, I decide to head up even further away from my house (more walking) to the local food co-op. There I will treat myself to a chocolate bar.

After my cashier rang me up, I grabbed the bar, deranged with anger and sadness, and slid my finger between the wrapper to unhinge the glue dots. The glue would not undo itself and I ripped the paper right open. For a split second I was aghast at my behavior—not the fact that I was going to eat the chocolate at the check-out, but that I had torn the wrapper. I had just said “fuck you!!” to my rules. What have I done??? My recklessness took over and I tore into the golden paper beneath the wrapper. I broke off a chunk – how sloppy!! In my fingers were two perforated sections, not one, and it was not a clean perforated chunk. Now, feeling disappointed, but still eager for my fix, I jam it in my mouth, sign my credit card slip, and exit.

Once outside, I eat thoughtfully. I realize it must still be before noon, and I haven’t eaten anything at all. Two more rules, broken. I live by “no candy, cakes, sodas, etc. before noon, and certainly not before a meal!!” The last time I ate candy at breakfast was when I had sixlets at Paul’s house in elementary school. But only a few years later, Paul will kill himself, and I still miss him terribly.

I walk home, letting the chunks I continue to randomly break off, disregarding the perforations, melt in my mouth. I taste coconut and cherries, and that cacao chalkiness that sinks into my bloodstream. When I bite down, the tinny bitterness cuts into my tongue and I smile. I think about calling my ex when I get home and apologizing, and decide against it. I’d rather just say that apologizing is hard—which it is.

With the bar half gone, I ponder my confusion. What is so confusing after all? How is my confusion so much more profound and different than someone else’s? How poetic this must be to walk about feeling miserable, eating chocolate, and pondering existential ideology.

It’s that no decision seems worth making. It’s that I’ve lost the key to how to fix things. I don’t know what to do about any aspect of my life, and I feel much more victimized because of that. If I was only confused about love, that’d be super simple. But I’m not; I’m confused about all of it. It clogs my head like a gas cloud, like the dust that hugs Pigpen, Charlie Brown’s friend.

So what do I do? I guess I break the rules on how I eat chocolate. I guess we all have our different ways of diving off the cliff. However(,) anticlimactic.

1 comment:

rachelmaria said...

not final FINAL draft. :) ending still needs a little touching up.

also, meant to be read aloud. not silently.