Talking Story

Happy Halloween! In honor of the day, here’s a very short story.


by Lehua Parker


The fun-sized candy calls, “Eat me, eat me, eat me,” to Josey Brackenburg.

No, she tells herself. I bought it for the kids. Besides, I can’t be this hungry already. I just ate breakfast twenty minutes ago.

“Josey,” calls the candy. “Eat me. You’re starving. And I am delicious.”

She resists, but it’s futile. An hour later Josey heaves herself behind the steering wheel, trailing empty wrappers like breadcrumbs. Gotta start line-drying my jeans, she thinks. Stupid dryer’s shrinking them.

In her grocery cart she chases apples with caramels, adds popsicles for their sticks, and stacks cases of soda on the rack beneath—no diet-death chemicals allowed in her house, thank you very much. Rounding the bakery, pumpkin chocolate-chip cookies leap off the shelves and tumble into her cart, perfect for midnight snacking. Not until checkout does she remember.

Halloween is in two weeks.

She needs more candy.


With twenty bags of sweets and treats jammed in the trunk, Josey takes the twenty-first bag with her, ripping it open to tide her over the two miles home. Hitching herself back into the driver’s seat, the button pops on her jeans.

Cheap. Nobody makes rivets like they used to.

The Snickers bar agrees as it chases the Milky Way down.

Cruising past the drive-thru, she scans the line stretching around the block and reluctantly parks. It’s an hour before lunch time, but the rush has already started.

No time to wait.

Waddling in, she super-sizes her biggie fries. Hot grease and salt sizzle as she drags them through her peanut-butter malt.

Catching her eye, Annie hefts her triple burger. “It’s perfectly normal to gain a few pounds before winter,” Annie laughs. “We’ll diet later!”

Josey pats her swelling muffin top. “Carrots sticks and rice crackers in January,” she grins. “But through the holidays let’s all get fat and happy!”

In space, Zargog adjusts a dial, his antennae quivering with excitement. “You’re right, Captain. The mountain species are more susceptible to the calo-ray than the coastal varieties. Near the large inland sea, scans also show fewer contaminates in the population—lower levels of nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine.”

“Excellent. Inform Chef the feedlot is optimized. Harvest Fest will commence as scheduled.”


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