When I was still a breastless child, I found an oversized dice in the red plastic dish on top of our refrigerator. It was made of two C-shaped pieces that slid together and apart, making a little box less than two inches square. I opened it and found something inside that looked like skin, but oranger, rolled up into a rubber ring about the size of a quarter. I had never seen anything like it. I showed it to my mother and asked her what it was. She smirked and said, “It belongs to your father.”
Not a lie, exactly, though her smirk was a dead giveaway. What she told me then was a partial version of the truth; a kiddie version, a placebo, like a Shirley Temple with a maraschino cherry.
Maraschino cherries glisten with the false sheen of lies told to children — manufactured and over-sweet, designed to preserve young appetites for silly and worthless things.
Children eagerly lift the long-stemmed cherries out of the whipped cream of their sundaes, out of the ice melt of their pink drinks, off the tops of whatever frothy confections their parents use to placate them. They dangle the turgid red orbs above their mouths, phony almond flavoring wafting up their noses like ether, distracting them from asking the hard questions, questions like what are these cherries made from? Or why are you having so many drinks tonight? Or what is going to happen to me? Or why won’t you tell me the truth?
The truth, little girl, is that before long, you will become just like that cherry, saturated with red juice and leaking. The opening may happen at a good time, when you are at home with your mother, or a bad time, on a long family car trip on a dusty, bumpy road on a sweltering summer day. An invisible star-shaped wand will reach in and remove the pit from your center and leave an achy hole right in the middle of you.
And that’s not all.
If you study the underside of a stemless maraschino cherry, you’ll notice a little hole that resembles the slit at the tip of a man’s penis. If you squeeze it, you can imitate the talking effect of the penis making a few “O” shaped comments.
Later, you’ll find the living flesh of the penis far more eloquent.
I didn’t say honest.
You’re not a little girl any more.
Let me buy you a Manhattan.
Greta Bolger is a writer and entrepreneur living in the heart of Michigan. She has published prose and poetry in Eclectica, The Red Cedar Review and Third Coast.