Tantalizing Tastes

by Robyn B.

Gold Coins Two large tree-sized objects pinched my head and dangled me in the air before dropping me onto a foreign potholed land. Without a chance to take in my surroundings, a large eyeball nearly twice my size popped into my face, barely a millimeter separating me from the grotesque display of veins. Blood rushed from my face as realization struck. But how? How could I have possibly been caught by this monster, this beast known for its intense greed? Yes, there was no denying the fact. I was face-to-face … with a human.

Earlier this morning, I had poked my head out from the warm fur I had lain in since past November, the beginning of which began my hibernation, to find a ray of sunlight had managed to sneak into the cave. I yawned, rising to my feet and hopping off the grizzly’s back, and peeked out to see that -at last!- spring was upon us once more. Leaving a message for my friendly roommate, I skipped off in the tall grass, the long stalks rustling as a gentle breeze swished past. I had wandered for hours with the sun warming my back and the birds singing miles above my head but it was that delicious smell that had first called me off the safe path I knew by heart and had traveled my entire life, a very long life, amazingly devoid of humans.

The scent wafted through the forest, entering my nostrils which automatically flared out to better allow access for the aura to fully fill my body. It was sweet and mouth-watering, reminding me of a giant flourishing tree full of large red fruit that filled your stomach to its capacity with its sweet contents. Remembering those spring and summer evenings of delicious fruit sliding down and settling in my tummy then the naps that rolled into night time, it didn’t take a signal from my brain to make my feet automatically turn and trail the sweet scent. Over stones and sticks I traveled until I found myself in a field of flowers.

Red, yellow, purple, smidgeons of blue, and pink swayed over my head and the green sticks poking up attempted to knock me over as I ducked my way around. The beautiful petals emitted their own scent, a flowery lilac then a gentle wave of impatiens that I slowly waded through, before a strong breeze brought on the irises. Yet none of these were the scent that had called me to this new land to begin with.

Marching on, I thought I could nearly see the fumes coming off the source, an object not a fruit nor a flower, and I realized I could see them. A slight fog rose from the top and I scampered up the cracked surface for a closer look. On a cliff, sat a hill different from any other I had ever seen. It was still brown and dead looking except for the steam it was constantly giving off. I hesitantly approached, reaching out one hand to touch it. I gasped, backing away but I still held a bit of the dirt in my clenched fist. Only, it didn’t feel like dirt.

Instead- I ran a finger over the substance to make sure I wasn’t imagining it - the dirt was soft and gooey, almost… doughy. How strange for a hill to be constructed out of dough. It was unheard of, yet, there it was, a hill of the same kind of dough my bread and cookies were made of. Delicately, unsure of myself, I lifted it to my nose and sniffed. No. It wasn’t the smell I had been following; whatever scent flowing forth from the hill of dough had to come from within. I gulped then committed the unthinkable. I set the dough dirt on my tongue, noting its feel and flavor, and swallowed. It tasted like dough. I glanced both ways, left then right then left again, but the coast was clear, so I lifted a foot and set it on the hill. Next, I brought up my other foot and laid it beside the first. Then I sunk through.

The hill hadn’t quite collapsed, but a dip now curled up around me, holing me in. It took a minute for me to register the fact that the surface under my feet had suddenly turned fiery hot. I had heard rumors of lava and hot fiery liquid and there seemed no other conclusion as goop began to fill in the pocket I had accidently created. Yelping, I fought to climb out but there was nothing to grab hold to on these make-shift walls. Instead, I seemed to be sinking deeper into the goop melting the bottoms of my green shoes, slowly burning its way to the curled tip. Attempting to escape the immense pain, I fell rear-end first into the pile of gel, my arms sticking out to catch myself. I shot back to my feet in seconds but I had gotten a whiff of the goop; my newfound nemesis, the fiery goo, was the scent I had been tracking!

Since my hands were covered in it now, I brought one hand to my mouth and my tongue made a circle around the tip of my finger. Air expelled quickly between my teeth before I was licking both hands. I now knelt, ignoring the intense burning, and scooped handfuls of the yellowish goo and shoved it down my throat, not caring that it scoured a path on its way down. It didn’t take long for me to discover that dipping the hardened dough into the goop added an extra zing. Soon, though I had barely ate a little hole into the hill over all, enough for maybe a person of my size or a small beetle or worm to wriggle their way down to the center, my belly bulged out, testing the limits of my green shirt. I set my hand on my belt and unbuckled it, lying down in the hill that had grown to a mere lukewarm. My eyelids heavy, my eyes drifting close, my body relaxing in the bath-like qualities of the hill, I fell into a deep slumber …

I shivered, wrapping a green cloak about my shoulders as large white objects pounded on the ground around me, melting into liquid to drown me in as they each landed. Heart beating faster, I raced to a cave in the distance, trying to attach myself to the grizzly lumbering to the same destination ahead but I was too far behind. Water popped up to my right then to my left and, without a chance to blink, it all came in, sucking at me, trying to pull me with it. I struggled to free myself with no luck; I was trapped within a water droplet, without oxygen to breathe. My breath left and the next time I sucked in, water flooded my lungs. Screaming only made it worse, drowning me that much faster with no sign of help, the grizzly long gone …

I blinked in the bright light, sunlight having already dried my clothes. I rose to see myself surrounded by beautiful flowers in a ring and sitting right in the middle was a large hill of dough. The scent was tantalizing and I couldn’t have resisted moving towards it even if I had wanted to. And, as the case stood, I didn’t. It wasn’t until I had climbed up most of it that I noticed a beautiful creature perched atop. Her red hair flowed down her back, pushing over her shoulders, a strand hiding part of one of her bright blue eyes from my sight. Still, the rest of it and the other one met my gaze and a tinkle of chimes met my ear. Feeling as though I was watching it all from above, I realized she was laughing. I smiled at her and she smiled back.

“Come on up already,” she called, waving her whole arm to beckon me up, a tad impatiently as though she had been expecting me sooner. I slowly waded my way to her and her waiting arms. I was nearly there when her face changed with her laughter. Pure evil erupted from her face, a large, ugly, leering object looming over me now.

“Well, well, lookie here,” she said in a low male voice.

I woke with a start as something yanked me from the warm depths of my slumber into the real world- quite literally by my head. Before I had a chance to react, I was dropped upon a new surface, warm but rough, pitted yet with bumps that reminded me of giant calluses. That’s when the giant eyeball dropped in, popping up in front of me.

“Hello leprechaun,” the eyeball greeted me rudely. In shock, I blinked, taking in the face holding the eye, fat with red dots marked white, and knew. This was a human, my first human. “Enjoying the apple pie? You know, mommy made that for me,” he complained, assuming by the short hair this was the male version of the species. When I didn’t speak, a chubby limb poked me; I gasped for breath. “Don’t you talk?”

“What do you want,” I managed, praying for no more rib crushing jabs.

“Aren’t you supposed to give me money or something?”

“Ummm …” I was thinking fast now; there had to be some way out of this mess without giving him my supply of gold that was my life support for goodness sake!

“Gold coins at the end of the rainbow! Come on, you’re a leprechaun, right?”

“You want gold coins?”

“YES!”

“Then, if you’ll just let me go …”

“No way. I’m not falling for that one.” I resisted smiling for I now had a plan. “Lead me to it.” I sighed then agreed, letting him carry me past my spring home hidden at the trunk of a tree, past the cave I had spent my winter, and to a rainbow: one formed by the rushing of a waterfall.

“There’s a refridg- err, cave, behind the falls. It’s in there.” I had to give it to him; the boy kept his grimy hands on me, risking both of us falling into the rushing, foaming waters below. Luckily though, the rumors about humans, even kids, seemed to be true: they were greedier than any other animal in history, including the sirens whom upon discovering the joy of crashing ships, never seemed to get enough. The second his eyes fell onto the pot and the gold coins inside, he promptly dropped me and raced to it, falling on his knees in front of it and eagerly scooping up his fortune.

I rose to my feet, dusting my green trousers before backing out of the cave slowly; the boy never glanced back. I disappeared out the waterfall and back to my spring house, ready for a nap, hoping I might complete it this time. The whole way retracing my steps, my green lithe little body shook with laughter. I almost wished I could’ve stayed behind to see the sneaky boy’s face when he discovered that his fortune would melt away soon after he pillaged my goods. After all, the gold coins were mere wrapping to the chocolate beneath.

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