Red Candy-Star Heart

She is born on the highest mountain peak in the world, just below a burning red star. When she is old enough to know the names of things, but still young enough to imagine things as they aren’t, she looks up into the night sky and sees the star as if she is seeing it for the first time. She mistakes it for candy. No, she swears it’s candy. She can’t believe she’s never realized it before. But now she can’t stop thinking about it. Her mouth waters for it. She eats nothing and survives only on red candy-star dreams. And she can’t stop wondering; What does it taste like? Does it taste like cherries? Like strawberries or raspberries? Dried cranberries or goji berries? Maybe a berry she’s never heard of before? She wonders if it’s poisonous. Or maybe it tastes like blood. And maybe blood is just a hot, sticky-sweet syrup. Maybe the inside of that candy-star is a sweet sparkling wine. Maybe it’s coated with red sugar dust, or cinnamon. She can’t stop thinking about it. She has to know, has to. So one night while everyone is fast asleep, she sneaks out into the darkness and jumps and reaches, and reaches and jumps, until she is finally able to wrap her fist around her candy-star and bring it down to earth. It burns her hand on the way down. She tolerates it, barely thinks anything of the fact that candy doesn’t burn, shouldn’t burn. All she can think of is the sweetness. All she can do is heed her own desire. So she brings it to her lips, slowly parting them; her teeth ache with longing. Her tongue tingles, her fingertips too. The star is smaller than her palm but larger than the coins she trades for sugar and spice. She bites into it, thinking that this will be the moment where every juicy red apple, licorice and sucking candy pales in comparison. She thinks about it so much and so hard that she doesn’t even remember to chew slowly, or savor, and before she knows it she’s swallowed her red candy-star and can’t for the life of her tell you what it tasted like. All she knows is that it burned on the way down, somehow got stuck in her heart and giving it a sort of erratic beat and glow. So maybe she didn’t get the thrill of the taste like she wanted, but she now has a glowing red candy-star heart to show for it and maybe one day she’ll be able to take it out, break it apart like peppermint bark, and share it with the world.

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