Every day, the child pressed his face against the window of the sweet shop. He never went inside because he never had any money.
His family was very poor and it was hard enough for his widowed mother to put bread upon the table, let alone have anything to spare for fripperies and folderols.
But he could always look and, every day, his hungry eyes lingered on the snow-capped mountains of Turkish Delight, the black, tangled undergrowth of liquorice, the glittering gem caskets of fruit-drops.
Day after day, he looked and feasted his imagination. From the shop’s open door came the mingled aromas of chocolate, fudge and spun sugar and he fancied he could identify their various tastes and textures without ever having tasted the twisted tang of sherbet lemons or the bee-sweet crunch of honeycomb.
One day, an elderly man who was passing by noticed the child’s wistful gaze, stopped, took a bright new shiny coin from his pocket, pressed it into the child’s hand and went on his way.
The child looked at the coin and realised that he could go into the shop and buy some sweets and that, at long last, he could lick, suck and chew what he had previously only savoured in his dreams.
But what to buy? A craggy chunk of toffee-nut brittle, a puffy cloud of pink-blushing marshmallows or a clutch of pale pastel-painted sugar-almonds?
The child lingered for a long time until the storekeeper, coming out and beginning to shut up the shop, asked the child whether he wanted to buy anything before he closed for the night.
The child dumbly shook his head and turned and went away. He knew that nothing that he might buy could ever hope to taste as rare and delicious as they did in his imagination.
Stopping off at a market on the way home, he bought two bunches of carrots and a turnip and took them home to his mother.
After supper, the child climbed into his bed and drifted off to sleep, dreaming that he could taste on his tongue the mingled flavours of butterscotch, aniseed and chocolate covered raisins…
© Brian Sibley 2006
[Image: © Brian Sibley]