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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison


In my dream that night

I return to the soap opera

That is the life of my older self

And her offspring.

This time, she stands in the middle of a sunlit kitchen

Downing a cup of coffee.

Her little girl is nowhere to be seen

Probably in the custody of some next of kin

Whom she had previously never met.

Todd Junior, however

Is still there

Flashing a gap toothed grin

As he watches his mother from across the table.

His evergreen colored irises sparkle when he looks at her.

I can almost believe he’s forgiven her

As he polishes off a bowl of colorful cereal.

The thought that he loves her enough to do that makes my chest hurt

Once he finishes his breakfast

He stands up

Rounds the table to stand in front of his mom.

“I’m ready,” he announces

Voice small but sure.

His mother nods

Sitting her lipstick-stained mug on the counter

Before taking his hand.

Unlike her hand on her daughter’s temple a few nights ago

Her touch is gentle

As she lets her son take hold of her thumb

While he leads her out the door.

The way their hands interlock

Almost seems loving.

Together, they cut their way through the yard to the sidewalk.

As her son adjusts the straps of his backpack

My older self bends down to press a kiss to the soft skin of his chubby cheek.

“Be good,” she mumbles.

He smiles

Kisses her cheek in return.

“I will.”

A car approaches

Coming to a noisy halt

On the road they’re facing.

Smiling in the front seat of a convertible

Is a much older, much cleaner Todd Swanson

And, in the back seat

A small girl

With a pair of golden pigtails

And one bright red cheek.

Todd turns to the mother of his children

Offering her a devilish grin

Forever the sly fox.

“Candace,” he greets her.

“Long time no see.”

The woman nods with a hard swallow

Her icy eyes vacant

As she watches the miniature Xerox copy of the man before her

Climb into the convertible.

The boy secures his seat belt

Smiling at his father.

“I’m ready,” he says

Just as he did earlier

To his mother.

Todd takes that as his cue to speed off

Not offering a chance for goodbyes.

With that

The shell of a woman who was once me turns around

Starting back for the door

As what was left of her family

Vanishes into thin air.

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