Powdered Cheese and Childhood Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A snippet of childhood, memories, and a time of innocence.

Submitted: June 16, 2016

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Submitted: June 16, 2016

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Powdered Cheese and Childhood Dreams

 

I remember the times we ate cheese balls—my mom and me.  She would buy those barrel-shaped containers filled with white or orange puffs.  The white ones were my favorite.  They were soft and melted in my mouth.  That sharp cheddar cheese taste—artificial, of course—lingered on my taste buds.  The powder all over my face and on my fingers. It accumulated like snow dust, and I did my very best to lick it all away.

 

Every time we went to the grocery store, my mom would grab a thirty-five-ounce tub of cheese balls.  She would push the cart and I would sit inside of it—in the larger section, the illegal way—next to the cheese ball tub.  It was as big as me.  I would look through its plastic, trying to count its contents.One, two, three.I usually stopped at nineteen.  There were always too many.  Yet never enough.  I think this one has five hundred, I always said. I always said that.  But I don’t think I could count that high back then. I only knew there were a lot.  I could not count them all on my fingers.

 

Every time we checked-out, my mom would put the cheese balls on the conveyor belt, and I would watch them roll away; my eyes would follow them all the way to the cashier.  It was usually the ancient lady with sagging boobs and gray curly hair. The one who took her job far too seriously. The one who couldn’t hear. She would always scold my mom for my improper cart-riding, but Mom would continue to place our items on the counter.  I don’t think she ever listened.

 

Once we got to our car, which was parked next to a lamppost—we always parked near the light—my mom would strap me into my car seat and open the cheese ball container.  First she would unscrew the red lid.  Twist, twist, twist.  Then she would carefully peel back the cap-seal to slowly reveal the shiny, silver lining.  The smell of the cheese.  The artificial cheddar.  Crunch, crunch, crunch.  She would eat one—just one, then lick her lips.  They were always painted matte petal, never ruby red.  Then she would give me a small handful, four or five at most.  Finally, she would screw back on the lid.

 

I would nibble on my cheese balls while my mom finished loading up the car. I would listen to the crinkling of thick plastic bags—the kind that didn’t tear as soon as you left the store.  She’d leave for a second, twenty at most, to put the cart in the return section.  But I knew she’d come back.  I never had a doubt.  And then we’d be off, on our way home, singing to the radio.  I would pretend to know the lyrics.  But I never did.  I never knew what they meant.

 

At that age, I didn’t know that the music my mom liked to play talked of love—hoping for it, falling for it, and ultimately crying over it.  At that age, I didn’t know what that meant: to be loved. Except maybe by my mom.  All I knew was the taste of a snowball and how it felt as it disappeared in my mouth.  All I knew back then was that cheese balls were tasty and something we enjoyed eating together, and when they ran out we could always buy more.  And that’s exactly what we did—my mom and me. Back then, we always bought more.


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