The bell on the shop door dings as Margaret enters; wandering around the shop she studies each available sweet and chocolates so closely as if she is peering at them through a magnifying glass. Each step she takes further into the confectionery shop, she is soaking in the smells, the colors, the many varieties. Her mouth-watering as she breathes in the many different scents, she is not exactly sure what she is looking for. As a young girl long ago, in the happiest times of her life, she vaguely remembers a sweet that she loved so much that she never wanted to let go of it. Everything about it, the texture soft and melts when it hits her tongue, the fizzy taste which created a popping sensation in her mouth as it soaked in to every available crevice. She recalls wanting to savor every second of the sweetness, her tongue enjoyed the feel of the tanginess, she never wanted those sensations to end. Her tongue was having a party and she could feel the immense happiness washing over her. Whatever these sweets were when she was little, she was desperately searching for them to get those feelings back, to reclaim her long lost youth.
Conveniently for Margaret the shop keeper is happy to let her take her time. Her own enthusiasm embellishes the atmosphere bringing the little shop to life. She too has the same passion feeling the luckiest person on earth to own and run this establishment.
`I’m Frances, can I help you at all my dear?’ she asks tentatively as she notices the sheer panic and anguish on Margaret’s face as she rules out each sweet as a contender.
`Yes, please’ Margaret replies, `I would be so grateful of the assistance’ She takes a deep breath, as if sighing out in massive relief like a heavy weight had been lifted off her old shoulders. She explains in as much detail as she possibly can and why it means so much to her to find these particular sweets. I used to come in a similar sweet shop as a little girl with my dad, he would hold my tiny hand in his tightly but so gently, I remember looking down at his hand gripping mine tenderly and then up at him smiling. I was so proud of my dad I loved him with every fiber of my being, I wanted to hold on to him and never let him go. He was my world, my rock; even though he had roughness on the skin of his palms and fingers from his job grafting in the coal mines, his hand still felt so gentle, so tender to the touch. We would visit so regularly and I would always want the same sweets day in day out no other one would suffice. They were sweet but tangy, soft, fizzy and would pop as they would melt in your mouth. It was like a daily ritual for us our quality time together once he had finished work. I miss him so terribly, there is a part of me gone with him and I yearn to feel close to him once more, fill the gap with love and fond memories.’ Her eyes welled up full with tears.
`I can see how much this means to you’, replied the kind shop keeper touching her arm ever so softly. `I would like to aid you in your quest, as a token I would like you to sample those that may be the ones you are searching for, on the house’. Margaret’s eyes lit up as she beamed, clearly ecstatic by this generous offer. Some of the pressure to find the sweets seemed to lift by this idea of trial and error to uncover or narrow down the options. She made her way around once more taking a small handful to try, she tried wine gums but they were soft and chewy rather than melting in her mouth. Next she tried refreshers they were a bit fizzy and tangy but more crunchy than soft. She tried sherbet lemons but again these were too hard. Finally she arrived at the flying saucers, popped one in her mouth and it melted almost instantaneously, followed by the taste explosion she remembered - fizzy, sweet, tangy popping sensation as they melted on her warm wet tongue. Her mouth watered in delight, a huge grin appeared on her face as all her precious memories came flooding back. She recalled they would walk down the street at the end of her father’s shift once he had washed the coal dust off and changed out of his work clothes caked in the black substance, holding hands. She would be skipping along in pure excitement while her dad asked her all about her day. She remembers his fingernails were always still black with the dirt as he struggled to get it all out. As they walked in the same bell as today would ring as the door opened and her dad would let go so she could run straight up and ask the lady behind the counter for a quarter. She would grab the relevant jar off the shelves unscrew the lid and measure them out into a paper bag whilst she waited excitedly to pay keenly placing it on the counter and sliding it across to the server with an outstretched hand as she beamed and squirmed in excitement saying `thank you, thank you’. Her dad would always treat himself to mint stripy humbugs and they’d stroll back home eating their sweets and smiling to each other. A tear rolled down her face, it was a tear of pure joy. She felt as if she was back there next to her dad.
Frances who had been stood quietly watching over her, saw her grin and smiled as she realized she had found what she’d been searching for. Margaret turned looking back over her shoulder at Frances thanking her whole-heartedly as she decided she would come here regularly now; maybe even daily for old times’ sake. To remind herself; be close to her dad and always remain like a big kid in a sweet shop till her dying day.
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