May 21, 2024 Flash Fiction


Smarties Artwork by Sarah Selim
Candy wrappers slathered onto wooden tables and chip bags’ potent smells wafted through the air and around the stickiness of all the junk food you could ever imagine. No child knew it then, but those chemicals kept them high. Maybe it was on sugar, possibly on one of the countless chemicals under the nutritional information listings with names none of us could read. Either way, it lifted those of us who couldn’t rely on anything else, who kept that smile plastered on our faces from eight to three. A quarter of an hour after that injection, that wrinkling of the wrappers, the crushing of the Smarties, we were free from everything.

We only needed it more the older we got, but eventually, it wasn’t strong enough; we needed something new, something stronger. A few sniffs couldn’t hurt, right? Just like those powdered Smarties, except much more expensive. I almost couldn’t feel myself after it, and all I could remember during it was those Smarties from all the years before. My mother would always tell me to eat them, that sniffing would only bother my lungs and I was too young to pretend to do such a thing. I don’t think I understood her then, but it was obvious now; that I was what she didn’t want me to become. It was almost like she had sensed that I was already gone, that the lifestyle she and others forced upon me from childhood was beginning to start a chain of events, sporadic and uncontrollable. I was sure she had seen the powder on my nose one of those nights, but she was already too gone and empty to care. But I was feeling again, I was remembering.

I need something stronger, and just a little easier to buy. A few ticket shots here and there between shifts couldn’t damage me, right? They were just like the candies wrapped in that colorful plastic, always sticking to the desks and the ground. But these only stuck to my tongue, almost dripping down my nose, into my brain, and through the windows of my soul. If I wasn’t working to pay off another candy, I was taking one and getting lost in the memory of wrappers just like the ones I used. The ones my mother littered across the house when she wandered off into the night. The ones my father would yell at her for taking as the crinkled sound of his footsteps trudging over them seeped into my dreams at night.

Stronger! I need something even stronger than those shots. A few pills throughout the day could get me through, right? They were just like those Smarties before I crushed them, at the time before I rid myself of the innocence I once had. I swallowed them and they left a trail of bliss across my tongue, down my spine, and through my veins. It was strong, yes, but it was never like before when I was truly engulfed in trying to remember something that I could never grasp, always living freely in a mind uninhabited, only a dark abyss to embrace.

I was buying a bottle of wine when I saw it again. Those faded colorful candies were organized in one row with that wrapper that always followed me through my worst nightmares. I bought two packs, just for nostalgia. Maybe it was the wine that got to me, but I took them out, just for a sniff. And those smells of childhood returned, and I couldn’t stop my hands from twisting the wrapper and crushing them until they were only a fine powder. I opened it again, spilling powder, and there I was, leaning over, letting the Smarties climb up my nose. They clouded my lungs, meeting all the drugs I had taken after those elementary school parties, seeing the spiral I had slipped down on after that first sniff all those years ago.

That peak was finally back.