Sweet Paradise

I’ve never felt so emotionally close to an ice-cream. This remarkable feat from a loaded cone demanded my respect. Reaching out, my finger touched the melting solution that had crossed its great divide.

Sweet Paradise
Photo by Lama Roscu / Unsplash

by Alan Bryant

Something shot past me through the open window, thudding into my faux antique, oval mirror. I spun around, never expecting to see an ice-cream cone splattered head first into the glass. Its sad reflection looked back to me as if asking for something. This was obviously not a social visit from your average Vanilla Joe. How could I know what it wanted?

In my many years of working alongside temperature challenged ice-creams, I grew accustomed to their idiosyncrasies, values and temperaments. So, when I realised what flavour had found its way to me, I shivered with cold shock.

Ice-creams exist for all palates and cultures. Had it been a rum and raisin smashing into my mirror I'd have understood the event as delinquency. The only thing those sodden raisins want is to start trouble. In my experience, you dare not turn away from them for fear of an icicle in the back. Most of them should be under restraining orders.

But this was a cool, soulful mint choc-chip hurtling into my lounge. Although somewhat aloof, I've always regarded the mint as maintaining high social responsibilities with taste and sophistication. The choc-chips are always polite and respectful and I readily identified with their empathy. All they want to do is give pleasure.

I watched the cone, that once proud horn of plenty, fall and roll empty across my mock Tudor tiles. Somehow, the poignancy in its movements made me realise this ice-cream's determined struggle to make a statement. Its minty aroma wafted to me, gripping my senses, confounding my natural, highly developed spirit of curiosity and need for knowledge. My background and relevant experience in the frosted area told me something was happening that I should have been aware of, but I could not see past the sticky murk of the mirror. I stood dazed, in a snow-globe of confusion.

Outside, the chimes of Mr. Softncurly's van faded in the distance. Angry crowds gathered in the street, arguing amongst themselves. Someone started banging on my door shouting, demanding their ice-cream back, or at least a refund. But the moment was too special to lose in idle discussion. This was a once in a lifetime event, a mighty glacier of hidden depths. I needed to dive deep to discover its full meaning.

Frozen to the spot, I watched the pale green confection fight to grip the mirror in its determined demise. The previously tight knit family of choc-chips were splattered around like confused orphans. Instinct for direction lost, their struggle against ambient temperature was wearing their resilience thin.

I’ve never felt so emotionally close to an ice-cream. This remarkable feat from a loaded cone demanded my respect. Reaching out, my finger touched the melting solution that had crossed its great divide.

I anointed my tongue with its sweetness.

It tasted divine.

Then my chest tightened. I shivered in exquisite panic and collapsed onto my pre-loved leatherette settee. All I wanted to do was help. But what was my role meant to be in this? How could a simple carer like me understand the complexities of such a hidden, burning issue? Time and temperature were now my greatest enemies to greater understanding.

Why was this ice-cream making the ultimate sacrifice? Did it highlight the futility of life outside the freezer? Did it have so much belief in itself, it had the ability to express a true and innovative concept? Was this a whole new and perfect faith? If so, an ice-cream becoming a martyr for its beliefs would be immortalised by followers worldwide. The day would be frozen in time. It must be celebrated, archived, equalling such historic greats as the introduction of the Strawberry Mivvi all day breakfast, and Friday night offers of two for one Arctic Roll.

But why choose me as witness to this icy ritual of defiance? My life-long community work with foreign yogurt was no secret, probably common knowledge amongst the chilled section. But knowledge, even if common, is unworthy unless guided by truth, and truth can be downtrodden until driven by passion.

I feel that passion rising within me now. It rushes through me like a cold tide. I have been chosen. They are asking me to be guardian of their family and faith. They want me as their disciple, their chief apostle to take their message to the world. At last, the reason for my existence is upon me. I swear, as their banner carrier, their mighty general, to carry this authority through the vast refrigerated universe.

This must be the one honourable way to immortality. Eternal life depends on me leading them to victory. Now I know I am meant to lead the world to the true paradise. Ice-creams must be free to choose their own dignified, defiant end rather than be devoured by the dribbling slurps of sweaty non-believers.

My work starts now. This is a war worth fighting until the last milky drop hits the floor. It will shape a better world. But I will need help if I am to lead them in their battle for eternal life and happiness.

How would I start my search? Who would I look for? Where would I find dependable, combative allies to fight alongside us to the end? The answer flashed through my brain like a freeze-bite.

I will call on all rum-soaked raisins to join our crusade and fight alongside us. They will relish the conflict, stamp out the dissenters. I will lead my army to a victory destined to be sweeter and more decisive than before. In a world of sugar lies, we have the one truth. Only by following our one true path can we find immortality. No matter what the cost, my war will change the world.

Alan Bryant has had eight short stories published in anthologies, one recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Train River Publishing. He has won the National Writers' Groups Historical short story prize and twice been shortlisted for the comedy story. Maybe he's just not funny enough. His work has also been read on B.B.C. Radio Wales. He gained a BA in Literature and creative writing with the Open University and has finished writing his first novel. So far, Hollywood has refused to napalm a path to his door. He lives in Mumbles with his gorgeous wife. He's not making this up, she is gorgeous.