Saturday, 13 August 2016

Candy Sticks

It was sometime after 9pm. The evening sky was a shade of blue like no other, a deep shade that perhaps only night owls can appreciate and souls of a more dark nature can understand. The air held an essence of familiarity; we inhaled its purity deeply and profusely, wanting to hold onto that warm feeling in our lungs forever.

“It’s really nice tonight,” my brother said.

“Yeah, it is,” I reply.

“You know, we’re going to miss this. Once we leave. In ten years’ time our late night walks will be nothing but a distant memory, and this neighbourhood will have changed so much.”

“Yeah, it’s so weird to think,” I said, followed by us both glancing around, trying to capture mental pictures of each stone, each puffing chimney, each individual front door. “Who knows where we’ll end up.” I smile, and we continue walking up the hill that has our footprints memorised so well.

The wind intensified – my skin approved but my hair certainly didn’t - as we reached the top of the hill and crossed the road towards Asda. We only needed to pick up a few things. Our basket was soon filled: Milkybar buttons (my brother was craving chocolate), a loaf of bread, apple crumble etc.

It was when we began perusing the confectionary aisle that I noticed it. A rectangular red box, blended into the array of sweets and sugary goodness so that I almost didn’t notice it.

Candy sticks.

I picked them up with giddy excitement bubbling within. I shook the box and heard my childhood echoing in my ears. I was no longer standing in a supermarket, but instead was transported back to the day when I bought a Spider Man themed pack with my friends from the Co Op down the road. To the moment when those papery sticks were poised between our small, not-fully-grown fingers, pretending like we were cool kids smoking cigarettes on the corner of our street. To the days when my mum imprinted the temporary tattoos that they came with upon my unscarred skin. Still clutched in my hand, we hurried towards the self-checkouts.  

Please fully insert your card. We giggled at the monotone voice after scanning each item. We couldn’t help it; the child in us was resurfacing. The wind was softer now as we walked the long way home.

“Look at us,” I said. “Doing a bit of grocery shopping. It’s almost as if we’re fully functioning adults.” We both laughed.

We pulled out the little box – only realising a decade later that even the packaging looked like a cigarette pack – and just like before, we held them between our now more experienced and calloused fingers, exhaling imaginary rings of smoke.

They tasted like cardboard and left a bitter taste of chalk in our throats. But we ate them anyway. As soon as we got home, I rushed to the sink and after a minute of dabbing, an image of a Sith Lord was stained onto my left hand. I laughed at how stupid it all was. I don’t even like Star Wars… But it made me so unbelievably happy. It was comforting to know that my past is still here with me, that it’s still a part of who I am, even if who I am is so far from who I thought I was going to be.

Who would’ve thought that a small red box, worth 40p, containing chalky sticks, could bring me so much joy. I’m going to remember it the next time I have my driving lesson, the next time I research career options, and especially next Thursday when I go to collect my exam results that are going to decide my future. I suppose the unpleasant aftertaste isn’t so bad when it reminds you of the you that you thought was long gone.

{Photo source: Nabsticle}