Winter Lane

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“You’re making it up, Deborah,” I hissed, running up behind her. She wasn’t surprised and seemed to be expecting it. I continued, “And you of all people aren’t one to lie, so spill it.”

The streets of Winter Lane had become slushy and miserable. The snow had melted slightly, creating a porridge of frigid water and grime. Luckily, Deborah and I went home in the same direction from school, so catching her was uncomplicated.

Her face was deadpan. “I really ate hot ice cream yesterday,” she said. “I have nothing more to say.”

“Not possible. The thermal qualities of heat would not react well with the ice ions in ice cream,” I spouted.

“What are you even talking about?”

“I took chemistry once.”

“Yeah, we were in the same class! All I’m saying is that I know what I ate. Go find the ice cream truck yourself if you want.” Deborah stuffed her hands in her large pockets, exhaled audibly and turned towards her house.

“It was right outside here yesterday. Maybe it’ll come back if you are so curious.” A flicker of softness passed across her usually stony face. She spun around with a quick hand wave back at me in dismissal and proceeded to her home. I felt blood rush toward my face, and I huffed.

I sneered at her back. The two of us had been enemies since elementary school when she won the spelling bee by obviously sucking up to the teacher instead of doing the real work like me. She had been the one to coin my nickname — my legacy — “Jack S–t” in ninth grade, after I bulls–tted a presentation on Egyptian history that I entirely forgot to do beforehand. Officially, it means, of course, “Jack the Bulls–ter,” but I decided to reclaim the nickname for my own purposes. Jack was the shit. I was 10 times more knowledgeable and cool than a lot of the jocks and bumblers in the town, damn it. People were so eager to believe that Deborah had really eaten hot ice cream, when just last year, they brushed off my pictures of the UFOs — admittedly photoshopped, but how were they supposed to know?

I took the afternoon to wander the neighborhood, keeping my eye out for the alleged ice cream truck. Others had reported seeing it about, so I decided that it existed, but I wouldn’t let Deborah have her claim to fame without my word on it.

I mushed through the slush for about half an hour in my sturdy snow boots. Then , I began to hear music. The music box-esque jingly tune came from a distance, but it grew louder. I speed-walked with determination in the direction of the sound. I turned the curb and saw it — a rather typical-looking ice cream truck with a giant smiling cone jutting out of its top. It was headed in my direction. Almost as if it sensed my interest, it began to slow down, finally stopping beside me.

“You look intrigued,” came a woman’s voice. She sounded like my middle school science teacher, and her appearance matched to boot. She had these bright red dangly earrings shaped like ice cream cones that were rather distracting.

“Are you the famous rogue ice cream truck everyone’s rambling about?” I inquired. “Because I got some questions.”

“I think I’m the only one in this area, yes. Do you want a slushie?”

“Yeah, give me a hot slushie.”

She pursed her lips. “Is that really what you want? Wouldn’t you prefer a hot chocolate scoop?”

“No, because none of it exists.”

“Have this — it’s on the house.” In a swift motion, she stuck out a cup decorated with polar bears with what appeared to be single plain scoop of vanilla with a bright red plastic spoon sticking out of it. I took it cautiously and put my finger on the ice cream. It was cool against my skin. I smirked, took a bite and swallowed. It felt like swallowing a chunk of ice that slid uncomfortably down my throat. I could feel my fingertips loosing heat and suddenly the temperature dropped down, down, down. I shivered uncontrollably.

“Is there dry ice in there?”

“Dry ice would be much more dangerous and could burn your esophagus. Brush up on your chemistry, Jack. Take another bite.”

I obeyed her for some reason. I was just desperate to understand. The ice cream slid down and began to feel … dare I say …warm. I stepped back in terror, holding the cup far away from me.

“What did you do to this?”

“Secret of the trade. Do some research and experiments, and maybe you’ll figure it out. I’m an advocate of the scientific method.”

I grimaced, oddly caught between a smile and a frown. She was delightfully intriguing as well as frustrating. I looked upon the cup. Investigating was a good idea — I had a real strange story to tell. Maybe tomorrow, people would pay attention when I told them about the weird temperature-defying ice cream. Deborah might even back me up!

 

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