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Sweet as Candy: A Novel in Verse

By @Madison


It’s a warm May evening

The weekend before the end of my junior year

And Todd and I have just done just that.

He lights his cigarette as I desperately attempt to tame my mess of white-blonde hair.

For what must be the millionth time

He offers me his box of smokes and a purple lighter

With a raise of his eyebrows.

As always

I shake my head.

“I don’t smoke, Todd,” I say.

“You know that.”

He gives a lopsided grin.

“Hey, people change. You just never know when.”

He puts one hand on my knee, the other on the steering wheel.

“You wanna stop at Sonic for tater tots and Cokes?”

Once again, I shake my head.

“Gotta get home. Curfew.”

He nods

But it doesn’t disguise his eye roll.

“Right. Izzy’ll have your head on a silver platter if you don’t.”

I recognize the snark in his tone

And I’m all too familiar with the reason he draws out every single syllable.

It’s no secret that Todd doesn’t like Izzy

And the reasons why are quite apparent.

Izzy is too straightedge for his tastes

Her hair, makeup, and nails always immaculate

Always focusing on work and holding down the fort.

Worst of all, she’s a good parental figure

Who tries to keep me on a fairly tight leash

Which is a definite no-no

In Todd Swanson’s How to Corrupt a Girl handbook.

Too bad he’s never met Vanessa.

If he knew her

He’d know just what an improvement Izzy is.

Or not.

For all I know

Todd could go all “Stacy’s Mom” on me

Considering the fact that my birth mother

Just might be his type.

That’s actually quite possible, now that I think about it.

For now, I elbow him in the side.

“And you won’t let that happen,” I say.

It’s a statement, not a question

And Todd seems to understand that

Turning the key in the ignition.

“Okay, okay. No tater tots for us tonight. Got it.”

He backs out of the dark parking lot of the park

Looking around for reasons that might have concerned possible obstacles in his path

Or anyone who might have seen us.

Hand still on my leg, he follows the path to my house he knows so well by now

Finally parking on the gravel driveway

Bringing his lips to mine for one last kiss.

He tastes like Diet Coke and tobacco smoke.

When he pulls away, his green eyes flash with a lost glimmer of hope.

“Think I can walk you to the door tonight?”

I grin as I gently push him away.

“You wish.”

He chuckles.

“Of course. Wouldn’t want my head on that silver platter.”

“You know she’d polish it, too,” I say.

“It’d show just how greasy you really are.”

I give him a quick, chaste kiss on his prickly cheek.

Though he immediately blushes sunset red

I don’t feel anything at all

Flinging the car door open, then closed

In just a few seconds.

No sentimental goodbyes for us

He’s manuevering out of the driveway just as soon as he pulled in

And I’m making my way up the brick steps

Through the front door.

Of course, Izzy is already asleep in bed.

If she suspects that I’ve been out

She gives me the benefit of the doubt.

Focusing on being as quiet as possible

I head to my bedroom to grab a long T-shirt to sleep in

Then to the bathroom

To wash away the smell of fast food and cigarettes that clings to Todd’s car.

As I wait for the water to warm up

I look around the bathroom

Adorned with floral wallpaper and powder blue paint

A l`a Izzy.

If things had gone differently

I definitely wouldn’t be standing in this flowery room

Though my chances of fooling around with someone like Todd

Would probably still be high.

It never does me much good to ponder what could have been, though

Because what could have not happened

Did happen

And what could have not been home


No use in questioning reality

Or the water will get cold.

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