Cotton Candy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Cotton Candy is a short story about a man sharing his childhood memory about a girl he cannot forget.

Love knocked only once at my door. Thirty-three years ago, in the summer of 1976. Yoo-Ree was as beautiful, precious, and rare as her name, which means crystal. She was special. When I say “special,” I mean special like a firefly hovering in the darkness or like a water lily drifting serenely on a lifeless pond. As I think of her now, I know I would rather have people take away years of my life than steal a single day I spent with Yoo-Ree.

***

On that day, the presidential candidates visited Ghua-Chon, my home town in Korea. I stuck my head out of my fourth floor window and stared down at the bustling and hustling that came with the guests.

“Mother!” I said breathlessly, pointing at orange and blue umbrellas crowding the streets. “Look! Look at those U-San!”

“Oh my,” my mother said, standing next to me. “Beautiful, aren’t they?”

I nodded, looked up at her smile, and asked, “Can I go out and play?”

“Of course you can, but you should eat before you go out.” Her hand drew my head against her hips.

I dug my hand inside my pocket, pulled out a shiny, copper ten won, and held it up. “I’m going to buy myself a ho-ppang, mother.”

“My son is rich,” she said, her smile widened. “Make sure you ask for the biggest one.”

I ran down eight flights of stairs, pushed through the squeaky glass door, and stepped out into the crowded street where the sun’s rays covered my face like a warm, white towel. Then I turned right and walked under the orange and blue parasols, where old ladies with withered-apple skin sold things, mostly dead things like fish, snakes, and centipedes. I stopped and squatted in front of an old lady who sold centipedes.

“Eww, Hal-mun-ni’” I said, pointing at the large jar filled with brown liquid. “I see little legs floating around your soup.”

“Gea oute hea!” the old lady barked. She swiped a yellow flyswatter and completely missed my face.

I sprang to my feet and said, “Hal-muh-ni, what happened to your teeth?”

“Hoew dae yoo!” she roared, showing off her gums.

I took a few steps back, stuck my tongue out, and ran off. The old lady yelled for someone to catch me, but I slid between the crowd, passed by four vending carts, and stopped dead in front of a rusty, blue cart.

Mat-eet-nun Som-sa-tang Sa-sae-you!” yelled the man, making it known that he sold the sweetest cotton candy in town. His only customer was a girl: Yoo-Ree. She had on a bright white dress without a hint of filth. I marched toward the vending cart where Yoo-Ree stood on her toes with forehead pressed against the dirty display glass. Then I coolly dug into my pocket, plucked out ten won, and pointed at a blue cotton candy crowned on a dirty wooden chopstick. When he handed the cotton candy to me, her eyes followed it as if it was a treasure from heaven. Everything about Yoo-Ree was delicate: her hazel eyes, chestnut-brown hair, her pale face, but it was her shiny smile that made me give her my cotton candy.

I watched Yoo-Ree hold the dirty chopstick with her right hand and peel a layer of cotton candy with her left. She then tilted her head back, opened her mouth, and let it melt as she carefully stuffed it into her mouth. Soon, her fingers, her lips, and her tongue turned bright blue. I took her soft, stained hand and led her to the movie theatre, to the park, and even to the mountain to get a bucket of water for my family. It felt as if we had been friends our whole lives.

On our way back from the mountain, I told her stories about the time I killed a fox with my butterfly net, about the golden chest I found inside of a dark cave, and about the snake.

“Last month, I caught a poisonous snake in the park,” I said, pointing. “Over there, next to that tree.”

Her eyes widened.

“It was huge, really huge,” I said, stretching out my arms. “Like this.”

She smiled, revealing her white, pearly teeth. “No, you didn’t,” she said. “I can’t imagine you doing such a thing.”

“Ask my uncle,” I said, smoothly. “He ate it with the neighborhood security guards.”

“Did you eat it, too?” she asked.

“Of course, I did.” I lied, laughing at her disgusted expression. I took her a moment, but in the end, she laughed too.

When our energy was spent from our adventures, we ended up at the playground in front of my apartment building. We sat on two separate swings and talked under the pinkish-orange sky. Yoo-Ree looked adorable as she stared down at her stained fingers. I jumped off the swing, shoved two fingers inside my mouth to rub the stain off her hand. Just then I saw my mother walking toward the apartment building with a box of clementines in her hands. I ran. When I reached my mother, I stuffed my hands into the box, grabbed two clementines, and then quickly ran back to the playground. Yoo-Ree was gone. The playground was empty. I wanted to yell out her name, but I didn’t. Instead, I walked over and lowered myself onto my swing then laid the clementines on my lap. At that moment, between my swing and hers, I saw a chopstick on the sand. It was blue and dirty. I stared at the chopstick for a long time before using my sneakers to bury it under the soft, brown sand.

  •  

I don’t know how Yoo-Ree looks now or where she is. Maybe she is walking with her daughter under the orange and blue parasols, wearing a white dress as pure and beautiful as swan feathers. Maybe she lives in a small house, without a pinch of dirt, encircled by beautiful, white fences. Or perhaps she is thinking about a boy who bought her a blue cotton candy crowned on a dirty, wooden chopstick.

Love knocked only once at my door. Thirty-three years ago, in the summer of 1976. Yoo-Ree was as beautiful, precious, and rare as her name, which means crystal. She was special. When I say “special,” I mean special like a firefly hovering in the darkness or like a water lily drifting serenely on a lifeless pond. As I think of her now, I know I would rather have people take away years of my life than steal a single day I spent with Yoo-Ree.

***

On that day, the presidential candidates visited Ghua-Chon, my home town in Korea. I stuck my head out of my fourth floor window and stared down at the bustling and hustling that came with the guests.

“Mother!” I said breathlessly, pointing at orange and blue umbrellas crowding the streets. “Look! Look at those U-San!”

“Oh my,” my mother said, standing next to me. “Beautiful, aren’t they?”

I nodded, looked up at her smile, and asked, “Can I go out and play?”

“Of course you can, but you should eat before you go out.” Her hand drew my head against her hips.

I dug my hand inside my pocket, pulled out a shiny, copper ten won, and held it up. “I’m going to buy myself a ho-ppang, mother.”

“My son is rich,” she said, her smile widened. “Make sure you ask for the biggest one.”

I ran down eight flights of stairs, pushed through the squeaky glass door, and stepped out into the crowded street where the sun’s rays covered my face like a warm, white towel. Then I turned right and walked under the orange and blue parasols, where old ladies with withered-apple skin sold things, mostly dead things like fish, snakes, and centipedes. I stopped and squatted in front of an old lady who sold centipedes.

“Eww, Hal-mun-ni’” I said, pointing at the large jar filled with brown liquid. “I see little legs floating around your soup.”

“Gea oute hea!” the old lady barked. She swiped a yellow flyswatter and completely missed my face.

I sprang to my feet and said, “Hal-muh-ni, what happened to your teeth?”

“Hoew dae yoo!” she roared, showing off her gums.

I took a few steps back, stuck my tongue out, and ran off. The old lady yelled for someone to catch me, but I slid between the crowd, passed by four vending carts, and stopped dead in front of a rusty, blue cart.

Mat-eet-nun Som-sa-tang Sa-sae-you!” yelled the man, making it known that he sold the sweetest cotton candy in town. His only customer was a girl: Yoo-Ree. She had on a bright white dress without a hint of filth. I marched toward the vending cart where Yoo-Ree stood on her toes with forehead pressed against the dirty display glass. Then I coolly dug into my pocket, plucked out ten won, and pointed at a blue cotton candy crowned on a dirty wooden chopstick. When he handed the cotton candy to me, her eyes followed it as if it was a treasure from heaven. Everything about Yoo-Ree was delicate: her hazel eyes, chestnut-brown hair, her pale face, but it was her shiny smile that made me give her my cotton candy.

I watched Yoo-Ree hold the dirty chopstick with her right hand and peel a layer of cotton candy with her left. She then tilted her head back, opened her mouth, and let it melt as she carefully stuffed it into her mouth. Soon, her fingers, her lips, and her tongue turned bright blue. I took her soft, stained hand and led her to the movie theatre, to the park, and even to the mountain to get a bucket of water for my family. It felt as if we had been friends our whole lives.

On our way back from the mountain, I told her stories about the time I killed a fox with my butterfly net, about the golden chest I found inside of a dark cave, and about the snake.

“Last month, I caught a poisonous snake in the park,” I said, pointing. “Over there, next to that tree.”

Her eyes widened.

“It was huge, really huge,” I said, stretching out my arms. “Like this.”

She smiled, revealing her white, pearly teeth. “No, you didn’t,” she said. “I can’t imagine you doing such a thing.”

“Ask my uncle,” I said, smoothly. “He ate it with the neighborhood security guards.”

“Did you eat it, too?” she asked.

“Of course, I did.” I lied, laughing at her disgusted expression. I took her a moment, but in the end, she laughed too.

When our energy was spent from our adventures, we ended up at the playground in front of my apartment building. We sat on two separate swings and talked under the pinkish-orange sky. Yoo-Ree looked adorable as she stared down at her stained fingers. I jumped off the swing, shoved two fingers inside my mouth to rub the stain off her hand. Just then I saw my mother walking toward the apartment building with a box of clementines in her hands. I ran. When I reached my mother, I stuffed my hands into the box, grabbed two clementines, and then quickly ran back to the playground. Yoo-Ree was gone. The playground was empty. I wanted to yell out her name, but I didn’t. Instead, I walked over and lowered myself onto my swing then laid the clementines on my lap. At that moment, between my swing and hers, I saw a chopstick on the sand. It was blue and dirty. I stared at the chopstick for a long time before using my sneakers to bury it under the soft, brown sand.

  •  

I don’t know how Yoo-Ree looks now or where she is. Maybe she is walking with her daughter under the orange and blue parasols, wearing a white dress as pure and beautiful as swan feathers. Maybe she lives in a small house, without a pinch of dirt, encircled by beautiful, white fences. Or perhaps she is thinking about a boy who bought her a blue cotton candy crowned on a dirty, wooden chopstick.

 


Submitted: November 12, 2014

© Copyright 2021 GeminiAB. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Ben A Vanguarde

It looks like part of the story has been repeated. Please correct. Beautifully written and you are a great storyteller. You have talent.

Wed, November 12th, 2014 1:36pm

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