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Writing Excercise - Gwen Pryor

The stuffy sweet smell of vanilla, cinnamon, and fermenting milk greets us two blocks ahead of Dave’s Ice Cream Shoppe. I peel back the metal screen door decorated in a “Don’t tread on me” poster and restrain it open for my sister. The door vengefully snaps back and fanatically clangs to warn the cashier of our arrival. The cashier begrudgingly lowers the volume of Ben Shaprio’s voice spewing from the black box tv nailed to the corner of the room. The shoppe walls are painted in muted pastels with knockoff Disney-like characters labeled Monty the Mouse and Derrick the Duck. A rotating white fan momentarily jams in our direction blowing a wisp of cool air. Our jelly sandals faintly crunch against the crumbs of fallen cones and sprinkles spread across the turquoise and white linoleum diamond floor. We pause in front of the muted salmon colored counter to peer at the list of flavors hung on a chalkboard behind the cashier. Every other flavor is slashed with red paint and marked with the words “Out of Stock”. The remaining flavors have seemingly racist and sexist names like “Secretary’s Money Shot”, and “Uncle Ben’s Cookout Dessert” that obscure the ingredients in each flavor. The cashier taps a sign scribbled in sharpie and duck-taped to the counter reading: “No Free Trys- This isn’t Ben and Jerry’s.” I ask what he recommends. The cashier shrugs, pulls up his brown streaked apron to his face, and blows his nose. He explains he’s not a big dairy guy.

We choose two cherry Original Brand Popsicles. After digging in the freezer for a few moments, the cashier hands me a wax wrapped popsicle. We barely notice the sticky thick dark purple drips down the edges as we rush to peel off the papers. We expose matching red popsicles with white 5 o’clock shadow razor burn. My tongue scrapes against the sandy film and reveals a faint musty fruit syrup. My sister takes a bite from the top. The popsicle flakes apart under her gentle pressure, sloughing off red chunks, until all she is holding a bare stick. I offer her my popsicle. She shakes her head no. We use the stick to count the remaining hours in Dad’s custody visit.


Writing exercise - I appreciate the visual and narrative streak of the piece. There is a fine sense of setting and vivid imagery. Sensory verbs and lavish epithets sprinkle the piece in a seductive manner. The ending reveals the vulnerability of the speaker and beautifully ties up the entire piece. I would suggest reconsidering the title as a title is suggestive of the content by either meeting or subverting the reader's expectations.


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