The Pink​ Starburst

Essay

For the Red Sour Patch Kid 

I catch myself staring at your back as we peruse each aisle in the market. I stand behind you, trying to help in some way, but my mind is occupied. My hands decide they are lonely so I begin rummaging around in my purse hoping to find some lip balm, but I pick out a piece of candy instead. I squeal in utter excitement, and the convenience clerk glares in my immediate direction, but I don’t care. Then you walk over with a wine bottle in your hand laughing at my childlike fetish.

“We’re gonna go with this one.” you say with a giggle.

“Perfect,” I reply with a half eaten Bit-O-Honey in my mouth.

The clerk tells me I look young but doesn’t ask for my ID as we checkout red wine and two containers of freshly cut vegetables. We laugh about my candy addiction and the clerk’s strange attitude on the brisk walk back to your loft. The candy begins to melt away in my mouth as we descend down the back alley of a busy street. I have never been to your place before and as we begin walking up a set of steep stairs behind a noisy bar all I can think is… What the hell am I doing?

I continue up those stairs with you because I crave the mystery hiding behind your hazel eyes and rough exterior. I want to know why I am with you and what we will encounter next. Our stories intertwine easily with our similar experiences and sense of humor. I feel pain in my face from smiling and laughing with you tonight. My cheeks become flush because of you but I want to blame it on my second glass of wine.

“Let’s play a game,” I say while positioning myself crossed legged on your couch.

“Alright.” you reply with a glazed over grin.

It’s one of those silly questions, something we have been asking each other all night like… What’s your spirit animal? What song would play as you walk up to bat? What high school clique were you a part of?

“If you were a piece of candy, what kind would you be?” I ask.

I see your face change in an instant. Your eyes glue to mine and your lips clench together. It takes you awhile to contemplate your answer, which seems silly to me, but I wait patiently.

With your eyes glued to mine, you ask, “What kind would you be?”

“Easy, a pink Starburst,” I say with no hesitation. The question was something I had never thought of before but I knew right away what I would be. It wasn’t my favorite candy but it was a candy craved by many, and I wanted you to know I was a hot commodity.

“I guess I would be a red Sour Patch Kid.” you finally decide.

And that was it, nothing else was said on that topic. But sometimes a simple question can lead to a complex answer. Let me break it down for you. We both picked a candy that represented us for the next several months. You, a candy covered in sourness and me, a candy tightly wrapped inside of her package.

I hate sour candy. It makes me cringe and pucker up but once you get past that phase it’s all sweet; just like you. That rough exterior was hiding this silly little boy just looking for happiness in this big lonely world. The first half of our relationship was all distasteful because we both realized how alone and lost we felt. You drank and I felt used. Once the sourness was gone the last half of this so-called mess was bliss. I finally got to meet the witty boy who cared about our waiters and wanted to make sure I got to work safely. The sweetness didn’t last for long though because then you were gone, just like the advertisement.

So here I am covered perfectly in pink wrapping. Perfect was a word you once used to describe me but I was far from it. Scared would have been a better name for it. I was wrapped up so tightly that it became a roadblock for you. It was hard for me to open up about anything and when you picked at my paper I would tremble. You unwrapped me like it was second nature and tossed my paper in the trash. I felt bare and alone when you were sour but that sweet phase kept me from going through the garbage to find my shield. Because now we were uncovered as a pair and it finally felt as if we were on the same page.

Both of us had our barriers but I couldn’t stop you from leaving. I tolerated your bad behavior waiting for some sweetness. And my unraveling showed my helplessness for your kind. Maybe it was because the pink Starburst wasn’t your favorite candy, just like sour candies weren’t mine.

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