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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison

Questions

“So, DeLuca. Is that Italian?”

Levi and I have been seated at the table for half an hour.

So far

He’s made no attempt to further impregnate me

Nor leave me high and dry, on my own

Whilst awaiting Izzy’s return.

For now

All we do is discuss the rather basic facets of our lives

Whilst sharing the remainder of my candy.

This is either a new high for me

(Hey, at least it’s safe!)

Or rather low.

(Jesus, I’m no fun anymore!)

Regardless

Here I am

Questioning Levi about the origins of his last name.

He doesn’t seem to mind this.

”It is,” he answers.

”My grandparents are Italian immigrants.”

”Cool,” I reply.

”All I know about my ancestry is that I’m French and maybe a wee bit Irish. Do you speak any Italian?”

”A little,” he says.

”But it’s pretty clumsy, I’ll admit. If I ever used too much of it in front of my Grandma, she’d probably slap me.”

Ouch.

Figure of speech or not

The turn our conversation just took

Stings a little.

I remind myself that Levi knows nothing about where I came from

As he continues speaking.

”I might sign myself up to learn some more next semester, though,” he says.

”I hear language classes can be very lucrative.”

Oh yeah

That’s another thing I’ve learned about Levi in the past half hour.

For him, “school” isn’t high school

But college

That oh-so-elusive luxury of education

That I’ll likely never reach now.

Vanessa never ended up there, either.

Leaving her career choices as a teen mother

Limited to the likes of drive-thrus and check out lines.

I try to steer my thoughts away from her

Back towards Levi.

Though he’s not raising a child on his own

Check out lines seem to be doing him just fine

Until he finishes his education

And moves out towards the bigger pastures

Of achieving his dreams.

Not that I know what those are.

That’s much too serious of a question for me to ask him right now.

Instead, I smile

Continue to indulge him in a conversation about the Italian language.

”You should take a class,” I tell him.

”Then you could translate books and stuff. Or be a diplomat.”

He grins.

”Maybe I will.”

He pauses to reach across the table

And reach into my box of Skittles

Looking me in the eye all the while.

Once he has a handful of bright colored dots

He decides to ask me one of the soul-searching questions

I’ve been trying to avoid.

”And what do you want to be, Candace?”

I freeze

Racking my brain for a somewhat decent answer.

What do I want to be?

A mother?

Probably not.

(Or maybe so.)

A student?

Yeah, that may be it

But school doesn’t last forever

And what the hell would I want to study, anyhow?

I can’t think of any subject off the top of my head

That really interests me

Or even that I’m notably good at.

In fact

The most appealing thing about the idea

Might be the fact that it’s so different

From the track I’m on now.

I search

Digging as deep as I can

Looking for a response I can give

That contains even an inkling of truth.

What are my dreams?

What do I want?

I can’t tell him

Or even myself

Before I hear the telltale sound of the garage door opening.

Levi stares at me

With frightened baby deer eyes.

I force a smile

Waving it off.

”My aunt,” I explain.

”Oh.”

He glances back toward the door nervously.

”Suppose I should dash, then.”

He stands up

Heads for the exit

Much too quickly for my liking.

In a bit of a panic

I do exactly what I know I shouldn’t.

”Levi!” I call out to him.

Hand on the doorknob

He turns around.

”Yeah?”

My cheeks burn

As I prepare to ask him

The most pathetic question of all.

Is this what blushing feels like?

If so, I hate it.

”Will you wish me luck?”

He smiles

So kind

I want to cry.

”Of course.”

With that

He lifts his hand to his head in a two-finger salute

Just like he did the first time we really talked.

”Good luck, Candace Noble,” he says.

”Godspeed.”

Then he vanishes

Headed for the silver car in the driveway

Leaving me alone

To try to face the music

And retrieve my truths.

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