Words by Ryan Gabos.
Turning away from the cashier, Alex knew that he was saying goodbye to much more than just Cindy, thrice-consecutive employee of the month at the Bethany Beach Candy Kitchen with the gorgeous hair and nose ring. These visits occurred daily and although they appeared to be beautiful one-sided trysts to Alex, they simply weren’t worth putting up with the stomach pains.
If this chain location sold anything other than its dreaded nationally famous salt-water taffy, he would not have had to eschew reluctance when entering the establishment. Yet here he stood, a week from the previous Sunday morning that he arrived for family vacation; now walking uptown rather than downtown, where he originally caught a glimpse of her majesty through the shop window.
“Candy Kitchen’s Salt-Water Taffy, yup. My family’s crazy about it.”
“Oh, are you here for vacation?”
“Yes, I am. We come to Bethany each year.”
“That’s nice. Well, if you ever need more, we’re chock full of taffy here. I would know, I’ve worked nonstop this entire summer.”
“… Is that so?”
“Well, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again soon then. Ha, my family goes through an entire box of these per day, I swear!”
“I bet. Enjoy your taffy!”
“Uh, will do! I’ll see you around, Miss…?”
Cindy. Alex felt warm walking uptown back towards his family’s rented condominium. It wasn’t the feeling of fleeting love. It was the knowledge that his stomach lining would improve tenfold by dinnertime that evening since he did not have to keep eating taffy by the box-full to keep up with this secret romantic charade. All that taffy eaten…and what had he accomplished? No conversation lasted longer than a minute at a time. She remembered his name, but the week was up and now she could begin forgetting.
He halted when he reached the nearest trash receptacle and removed the box of taffy from his bag. He held it over the can. “I’ve left her…but I’ll never see you again. I never had any love for you.”
The box fell into the trash receptacle, along with his pining.