Monday, November 10, 2008

Fiction: Bittersweet

Author's Note: This is one of my lost stories, originally written sometime in July 2005 and hidden away for the last three years. I know of only one other person who has read this, and I figured that it would be nice to finally take it down from its shelf and dust it off. I choose to present this as it was originally written -- with the exception of a few grammatical edits -- if only because it's interesting to see how my writing style has changed over the past few years...

When she first met him, he was already made of chocolate.

She grasped his hand in introduction, and to her delight it was smooth and warm with the muddy copper of milk and cocoa. She breathed his wonderful scent, and almost fainted in pleasure when he smiled at her and said, "Hi."

She nibbled at the edges of his fingers, mostly because she couldn't help herself. They were as deliciously sweet as she expected them to be.

But that was when she noticed all of the others. She was not the only one who liked the taste, after all. There were many of them, nibbling at the skin of his arms, the folds of his shirt, even the tips of his hair. One girl had a jealous vise-like grip on the small of his back, and snapped at her when she came too close.

She backed away and stared at the fawning, adoring crowd. There seemed to be no way to get to him at all. But it was not easy for her to forget the sweet, luscious taste, and she would not allow herself to retreat so quickly again.


They met once more, and it was a sudden, unscripted meeting borne of pure coincidence. He smiled at her, she smiled at him, and this time she had him all to herself.

But she was too shy to do anything but nibble at the edges of his fingers, and laugh at the words he said... even though she wasn't really listening. He was chocolate, dark and light and bittersweet and kind, and in moments she had already lost herself in the taste.

They talked -- and she nibbled -- for about an hour, maybe two, before he had to leave. She almost wished that she could tear some scraps from his arm and take them home, but she knew that it wouldn't be the same. She knew that it would neither be as dark, nor as sweet.

As he rose from his seat, she clutched at his arm hoping for one last bite. But that was when she noticed the marks of teeth upon the small of his back.

She slumped in her chair, and said a forlorn goodbye. She could not get the taste of chocolate out of her mind, and it would fill her dreams with the anticipation of the next meeting.


He called. She was happy.

Visions of chocolate danced in her head.


While they sat, he glanced at the stars and named each of the constellations one by one. She ran her mouth along the length of his arm, entranced by the scent and the taste.

He glinted of dark silver in the moonlight, and underneath the stars she discovered caramel underneath the skin she had been nibbling. It tasted glassy and sweet, much as she expected it to taste, and she reeled with the unexpected blessing.

He knew her then, and she knew the caramel that flowed in streams beneath his chocolate skin. And she was happy with him, underneath the stars.


His chest was brown-black and bittersweet, as was dark chocolate. She placed a single hand upon his waist as she nibbled. The scent was stronger there, and it filled her ears with the sound of his strong voice.

The caramel there was thinner and more watery, yet it still tasted as bittersweet as his confectioneried skin. And as she continued sampling the creases and the folds of chocolate, her hands reached the small of his back...

...And stopped for a moment. Then she paid it no mind, smiled, and continued to nibble.

She did not feel a single mark there.

She knew that he was hers, and hers alone.


They were inseperable now: He of chocolate, and she who loved chocolate.

Every day she continued to nibble at him. His chocolate skin, and his caramel veins. She gave him her presence and she took his candied sweetness, both in kind.

It was on the morning of the fifth month when she finally found his heart, and she was happy. It was his utter, inner self, and it gave much the same sweet smell that she had grown accustomed to love.

She closed her eyes, and began to nibble. And nibble. And nibble some more.

And then her eyes suddenly flew open, and she staggered back. He smiled at her, but it was a different smile, a glare of stark whiteness against the endless features of chocolate brown. She fell to her knees and retched violently, spilling the nibbled pieces of his heart upon the ruined floor.

Where his chocolate skin had been bittersweet, his heart was another matter entirely. She shuddered at her revulsion, and denied that it was what she came to be.

Slowly she picked herself up and reached for his heart once again. But even before she touched it, her fingers began to tremble, and eventually she had to sit down.


He was still made of chocolate, and the next day the heart was whole and unmarked as though nothing had happened. But she no longer dreamt of chocolate, and instead stared into the inky, bittersweet blackness whenever she slept.

She envied the women who gathered about him now. They yet savored the scent of his chocolate skin and nibbled at his irresistible fingers, while she would taste the saccharine sweetness of his arm and immediately feel a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach. He smiled, and the smile itself was so sweet that she wondered how much chocolate he really was.

She saw only one girl at the back of the crowd, one girl who stared back at her with a look that belied the purest of understanding. The look was much farther from jealousy than before.

They did not speak, but they stared into each others' eyes and knew.

She was not the only one who had tasted him for what he was.


She shrank underneath his gaze, and the sight of his pulsing heart made her nauseous. So nauseous, perhaps, that she could only drag herself into a corner to get away from the smell.

At first she had felt the same sweetness of chocolate as before, and she had started nibbling. But the more she nibbled, the closer she got to his heart. And the closer she got to his heart, the more the thought soured the taste in her mouth and almost left her weeping where she stood.

He screamed that he did not know her then, and she did not know him. But she knew his heart all too well now, and the guise of his chocolate shell.

And she wept, remembering the bittersweet days, the days of sweet caramel and the short nibbled whispers. She remembered the sweetness of chocolate, dark and light, and could not comprehend the being that faced her now.


She could still imagine his scent then, late at night. It was sickly-sweet, and it knew the smoothness and warmth of his skin. Much as she did once.

She used to dream visions of chocolate. But now she awoke from the memories of his sweetness, from the knowledge of dark and light, from the time before she finally found what lay beneath.

She then dreamt of his pulsing, beating heart. And she shuddered at how truly hidden it was.



Pipe said...

Damn those coconut fillings, they get you every time... @_@

I liked this one a lot (although being at best a casual consumer of the dark stuff, some of the descriptions went over my head). If you don't mind me saying, I think if you concluded it with the mutual non-jealous look between the two girls, it'd be the better for it.

Have you tried submitting this anywhere? I think with some polish it wouldn't look out of place in some of the digests/anthologies I've read.

Sean said...

Pipe: I can think of a million little things that I want to change with this story, but sentimental value won out over technical requirement. It goes a little overboard with the titular analogy, for one, and the character relationships could use a little fleshing out.

I never threw this over to a publishing venue, mind you, because I think I didn't quite know how to categorize it. It's not quite a fantasy story, and it's not even vaguely a romance. The best I can imagine is that it's an analogical expression in one thousand words, and it's hard to imagine who would option such a thing.

kyutbabe said...

i like this one, and not just because i like chocolates!

Sean said...

Kyutbabe: Well, I liked it enough to drag it out of mothballs. :) I've been wondering what happened to this story for the longest time...