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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison

Failure

Monday night

Izzy begins her work in the kitchen

For tomorrow night’s dinner.

She consults her written list of things to make

Mumbling in determination all the while.

I am her accomplice as she names food after decidedly-American food

Handing her her ingredients as she asks for them

Or rather, demands them.

“Potato salad,” she declares randomly.

“Hand me the bag of potatoes, Candace?”

I retrieve the bag from the groceries scattered across the counter and hand it to her.

Izzy nods appreciatively.

“Thank you.”

I nod back.

“You’re welcome.”

She smiles before going about the business of mashing potatoes.

As she works, I consider my current situation.

Though I know that there are much more pressing matters surrounding my condition

I can’t help but think of my run-in with Levi

And the fact that I am, indeed, invited to a potluck tomorrow night

If I can get out of the Noble family cookout.

As crazy as it may be

That challenge just might be one I’ve chosen to accept.

Yeah, yeah

It probably isn’t the best idea to go to a party with a guy who isn’t my boyfriend

While I’m thinking of ways to terminate a pregnancy, no less

But distraction has always been a vice of mine.

If my newest vice comes in the form of a cute, disposable stranger

In my book, that just might be the best kind.

Besides, it’s just one night.

By the time Izzy has effectively mashed the potatoes for her salad

I’ve decided to try convincing her.

I clear my throat to get her attention

Before breaking the silence.

“I got invited to a party yesterday.”

She lays her spoon down next to her bowl, glancing at me out of the corner of her eye.

“Oh yeah?” she asks.

“What kind of party?”

I smile sweetly

Making an effort of making it sound as innocent as possible.

Don’t want her thinking that her only foster daughter

Might want to spend her Independence Day partying with a bunch of juvenile delinquents.

“Nothing big. Just a potluck for the fourth.”

“A potluck, huh?”

She pauses, looking over her ingredients before turning back to me.

“Hand me an onion?”

I oblige, reaching into an overturned grocery bag.

Izzy thanks me, laying the onion on her cutting board.

She continues questioning me as she chops the vegetable up.

“Who invited you to this potluck?”

I think back to the name on the paper.

“Levi DeLuca.”

Izzy considers this, furrowing her brow.

“I don’t think I know a Levi DeLuca.”

I shake my head.

“You probably don’t,” I say.

“He’s about my age, maybe a little bit older. I met him at Culpepper’s.”

“Culpepper’s?” Izzy asks.

It’s comical to watch her chop her onion with such a puzzled expression.

“You met at the drugstore?”

I nod with a mild-mannered smile.

“He works there,” I say.

“He’s a cashier.”

“Ah.”

Izzy nods, pushing the now thoroughly minced onion to the middle of the cutting board.

“And when, exactly, is this potluck with Levi DeLuca from Culpepper’s?”

I stop here, biting my lip.

This is where I take my leap of faith.

“Tomorrow night.”

Izzy stops pushing around the onion

Before heaving a sigh.

“Tomorrow?” she asks.

“Candace, you know we’ve had our cookout planned for weeks.”

My shoulders slump as I nod.

I’ve failed.

“I know,” I say.

“I knew when he asked me. I just wondered if there might be a chance that you and Alex could invite the neighbors over or something while I went.”

She shakes her head.

“I don’t think so. Alex and I really want to spend some time with you, honey. It’s one of the only times when neither of us have to worry about work, so we could all just relax…”

Not needing an explanation, I was quick to cut her off.

“I get it.”

I don’t realize how snappish this sounded until Izzy is already wearing the look of disappointment that accompanies having her feelings hurt.

A pang of guilt hits me in the gut

But, before I can apologize

She’s pouring the onion into her bowl of mashed potatoes nonchalantly.

“Okay then,” she says.

“Now, could you get me the pickles?”

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