Friday, 19 May 2006


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]

1 comment:

Brian Sibley said...

My adopted Tasmanian Sister, Emma (whose role in my life I have yet to explain to my readers) wrote to say:

"As for that little boy in your fable, you can see that he never had a sister! If he had, she would have taken him by the hand and dragged him into the shop, and while the skin-flint shop owner was serving the boy with some great sweet of his choice, she would have been filling her pockets with all the other sweets in the shop.

He would have thought her very wicked and not been able to sleep all night thinking that the police would be coming to his door any minute now. His sister would have been sleeping soundly on the other side of the wall, still tasting the marvelous Lindt chocolate etc that she had stolen.

Of course she would never get to Heaven, unless you can bribe people at the gate - which of course she intends to do!!

Not that I know this child at all!!!"

There have been many times when I have regretted being an only child - but since getting to know Emma, I'm now not so sure...