At the sound of Dorothy calling my name, my daydream burst like a soap bubble. “Yes?”
“The look on your face!” exclaimed Dorothy. “Thought you’d gotten hold of one of those earwax-flavored jellybeans my nephew brought over here on April Fool’s Day! What was that – licorice?”
I’m no fan of licorice – I’m always leaving the black beans behind for Dorothy – but that wasn’t it. It tasted like…blimp. Goodyear Blimp, to be exact. But that made no sense. It was blue gray with white dots, I remembered that. “No, not licorice,” I said, trying to puzzle out what my brain was telling me the flavor was.
“Well? What was it, then? It must’ve been nasty, to get your expression all twisted up like a corkscrew!”
I reached into the bowl and fished out another blue-gray, white-spotted jellybean. I popped it into my mouth and chewed slowly, thoughtfully. I closed my eyes for just a moment, and I was sailing silently above a crowded stadium. I inhaled. It smelled – and tasted – like blimp.
I’d never even been inside a blimp. It felt a little turbulent going down.
I reached into the bowl again. This time, I pulled out a bright red bean. Cherry, no doubt. I normally avoid those, because cherry is the cliché of the candy world. I like the 64-flavor variety packs; the ones with Chardonnay and port wine and lavender-lemon were my favorites. But this time, I was seeking the comfort of the familiar. Cherry would be just the thing. I bit into it and tasted…skyscraper. That sharp tang of sparkling glass and rebar. The heady, earthiness of elevator. I felt it crunch between my teeth. That wasn’t as bad as it sounds. I remembered standing at the top of the John Hancock Building, gazing out over Lake Michigan, high enough to see the curvature of the earth. That’s what it tasted like. It tasted like exhilaration. As the flavor faded, though, I began to crash.
I fished out a blue-gray, speckled jellybean and handed it to Dorothy. With a puzzled look, she popped it into her mouth. “Blackberry brownie,” she said with a shrug. “So?”
“Try the red one.”
Dorothy reached down to pluck a red bean from the bowl. “Cherry,” she said. “Ordinary cherry. Are you feeling okay?” she asked.
“Fine,” I lied. “Just…fine.” I reached for another bean and tasted the smooth wave of ocean liner. Titanic, I whispered, as I drifted under for the last time.
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