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The Slush Rush

The Suburbs, 1990

By CJ MillerPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 4 min read

"Found it!"

Stephanie declares victory from deep within the couch cushions.

She may as well be speaking muffled Klingon, but Nick catches her drift.

"Cowabunga!" he yells, punching the air for emphasis.

His sister emerges, bangs sticking up, the final quarter in hand.

"If we add this to my quarter and the dollar I stole from Dad—"

"That I stole from Dad," her brother interjects.

"Whatever. As I was saying, we should have $1.50, enough for both of us to get a 75¢ cup!"

"Which is way bigger than what Mom usually lets us order," Nick gripes. "I'll never taste the $1 cup in my lifetime."

"Hey, be grateful."

"Heeeeyyyy, be grateful," he mimics, exaggerating every nuance.

Normally these would be fighting words, but time is of the essence.

Mom, warden of all things sugary, has been out of town for three whole days.

Dad, afraid to tick off his health nut of a wife, is running a tighter-than-usual ship.

She'll be back tomorrow.

It took them this long to secure permission for the 15-minute ride across town where—drumroll, please—

The Candy Palace awaits.

A premium purveyor of cavities galore, you can buy penny candy, hard candy, candy bars, and lollies.

Not enough? There's also gum, chocolates, caramels, and Fireballs.

Today, however, their sole focus is on the brass ring of summer foods:


Unlike some places that'll sell you crude cubes drowning in cough syrup, The Candy Palace carries the Rolls-Royce of frozen confections. (Grey Poupon sold separately.)

Smooth, velvety, and bursting with goodness, these flavorings have been thoroughly incorporated into the snowlike delivery system.

Precisely the way that—if the big red sign is to be believed—the Italians intended for edible ice to be enjoyed.

Mamma mia!

Steph is addicted to juicy watermelon while Nick can't get enough of sweet, sweet banana.

Throw in an awkward straw-spoon hybrid thingie and watch your troubles melt away... so you can slurp 'em back up.

Just daydreaming about it is enough to make them drool like Tofu, Mom's lovable pug.

Helmets in place, they hop on their Huffys.

"Think we'll make it?"

"We've got two hours, Nicky. How could we not?"

Famous last words.

By 6:00, they're cruising down Clifford.

At 6:05, a truck delivering apples gets into a fender bender right before their awestruck eyes.

By 6:10, Main Street is littered with the corpses of smushed Granny Smiths, something that has never and will never happen again.

Come 6:22, it seems the plan is back on track.


In no particular order:

A crummy kid pulls a fire alarm, resulting in sirens and traffic.

Nick's bike gets a flat, resulting in naughty language.

Nick kicks the flat, stubbing his toe something fierce. (This doesn't help with the cussing.)

Stephanie loses their dollar and has to circle back to the produce massacre.

All is not lost.

At 7:50, the goal within reach, they toss their bikes aside and run the rest of the way.

The Palace prides itself on locking up at 8:00 sharp, aiming never to disappoint.

When the siblings reach its kelly green door, Nick's Ninja Turtle watch reads 7:56.

And yet.

The lights are off.

The CLOSED plaque has been hung.

The coveted slush sits abandoned in huge white drums, just out of reach.

A moment of silence.

Limbs heavy with humidity and sulking, the trip home seems to drag on twice as long.

"What do we do now?" Nick whines, blood sugar clearly plummeting.

"I dunno," Steph says. "Wanna watch Back To The Future?"

"Do you have to ask?"

The tape is already in the VCR.

Curled up on beanbags, they unwrap some generic pops from the way-way-back of the freezer—the kind one might call red instead of cherry.

A treat is a treat, but it's just not the same.

By 10:35, snacks have been consumed, Marty has a new truck, and Nick's sis is starting to snore.

"Hey, Steph?" he whispers.

"Whaaat?" she groans, mildly grumpy.

"If we had to miss out, I'm glad we did it together. You're pretty fun in a crisis."

"I'm trying to sleep, dork."

Making certain he can't see her face, Steph smiles in agreement.

At 10:55, Tofu starts to bark.

When they look out the window, Mom's Caravan is pulling into the driveway.

A day early yet right on time.

Forgoing flip-flops, they run out to greet her.

The pavement is still warm from today's rays, and it's that strange, fleeting sort of pleasant, something they can't experience come winter.

"Did you guys eat supper?" she asks, hugs in progress.

"We had popcorn during the movie," Steph replies, a touch sheepish.

"That's what I figured. On my way through the city, I stopped at Milano's and picked up that slush you like so much. Same stuff as downtown. Open til midnight."

They stare, mute, so she continues.

"Since the dew point has been soooo high"—Mom adores talking about dew points—"I got the biggest size for a change. I figured, why the heck not?"

In disbelief, they open the passenger door to find two $1 servings sitting in the cup holders.

One is watermelon. The other, banana.

It's all they can do not to wake the neighborhood.

And how was it?

Adults love telling kids that once they get what they want, they probably won't want it anymore.

That the real deal rarely lives up to the hype.

Those guys never enjoyed a surprise slush while sitting under a full August moon.

Short Story

About the Creator

CJ Miller

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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