Fudge Ripple | Teen Ink

Fudge Ripple

April 1, 2019
By hashslingingslasher BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
hashslingingslasher BRONZE, Los Angeles, California
4 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

-Karl Marx

I do not like funerals.

Shocking, right? It’s not everyday that you meet someone who hates attending parties for the deceased. But I think that, of all people, I deserve to say this and mean it. I hate funerals. I really do.

My Uncle Ronnie was the first to go. I was only five years old, and to me, death meant going to live on a farm all the way across the country where the cows make chocolate milk and the chickens lay golden eggs. So when I saw my mother sitting on the couch one night with her head in her hands and the telephone lying on the floor, I knew something was wrong. I knew someone had moved off to that farm with the magical sheep and singing goats and the silos full of candy.

“Brenda,” she said to me that night, after wiping the mascara from her cheeks and pulling her hair into a ponytail, “you won’t be seein’ Uncle Ronnie ‘round here no more. He’s gone away. Far away.”

“Well...where did he go, Momma?”

“He’s--oh, honey, he’s dead.”

What? Dead? What did that mean? It took my five-year-old brain quite a while to figure this out, and by the time I had, my Momma was grabbing my hand and leading me into a tiny chapel full of sobbing people, all dressed in black. We shook hands with some, hugged some, talked with some for a few minutes. We sat for the service and I played with the bibles propped against the back of the pews. Then we all shuffled over to the buffet and twiddled our thumbs, pretending not to be hungry because for some reason, it didn’t feel right to cram our holes with food when there was a dead guy just feet away lying in a coffin. By that time I understood it all. I understood the overwhelming thought that one day, none of the people in that chapel would be alive, myself included. I understood that Uncle Ronnie didn’t die of old age, because in some cases, people checked out before their due dates. I also understood that Uncle Ronnie didn’t go to that sunny farm on the other side of the country with the chocolatey cows--that there wasn’t any farm like that at all.

As soon as I got the concept of death, it seemed like everyone around me began dropping like flies. The next to go was Grammie Louise, who I’d only met a few times on account of the fact that she called Momma a “sinner” with “corrupt morals,” and told us not to ever speak to her again. Nonetheless, we went to her memorial and sat in the back row with our heads hung low. I tried not to play with the bibles this time.

Momma cried during the reception, murmuring something about regret, something about time and the lack of it. I didn’t know Grammie, but seeing my Momma cry made me want to cry too. This funeral was nothing like Uncle Ronnie’s.

After that was Aunt Ruth. She was nice. Not around a lot, but nice. She was a trucker with inked-up arms and wild curly hair that hung down past the small of her back. She was young; younger than Ronnie by a mile, and younger than Grammie by a marathon. She had her wake by a sparkling pond a half-mile from her small town house. There were no Bibles on account of the fact that we weren’t at a church. I watched as they lowered her casket into the dirt, letting Momma hug me tight and whisper promises in my ear.

“It’s gonna be okay, honey. She’s gonna be alright.”

Everyone cried, including me.

Then, there was Cousin Cory. He was only twelve. Just a few years older than me. Momma said he died in a bike accident, that he got hit by a big cement truck. I couldn’t believe it. I wouldn’t believe it. Not cousin Cory. He was only twelve. He had only just started--he wasn’t ready to check out yet. I begged and pleaded with Momma, demanded that she take it back, that she tell me it was all a joke and that he’d be here on Wednesday to take me to the park and help me chase the ducks. All I wanted was for him to walk through that front door, wearing the usual yellow and red striped shirt and cap, yelling something about a baseball game or a track meet or a soccer match. I screamed and howled and kicked the wall, anger filling my guts and rising in my throat like a hot lump of coal. I pulled my hair and tore my shirt and threw my shoes across the room so that they knocked down the softball trophy I’d won for Most Home Runs. I said no, no, no, no, no, please no. This couldn’t be. He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t be gone. He was only…

Twelve years old. I was sitting on the couch, watching a stupid cartoon and playing with a lighter I’d found in the gutter. My brain was clouded with foggy nothingness, Saturday density, lack of smarts because for God’s sakes it was the weekend and I didn’t need to think. I wore a striped shirt and baseball cap, and old sneakers that had been passed down from some distant relative.

Someone knocked on the door.

“I’ll get it!” I yelled to no one, because Momma had left for the store over an hour ago, and was probably still there sifting through her stack of coupons. I peeled my body from the couch, and prepared to answer to a group of Girl Scouts, a nosy neighbor, an old friend.


She’s dead? No she isn’t. She can’t be. She just left a few hours ago. She’s at the store, sifting through her stack of coupons, trying to find the one that gives her a dollar off if she buys five blueberry yogurts. She’s pushing her cart down the dessert aisle, looking for my favorite fudge ripple ice cream with chocolate chips. She’s staring at a loaf of Wonder Bread and trying to remember if they were the ones involved in that big sawdust scandal. It can’t be her. No, you’ve got the wrong house. It must be the neighbors, gee I feel bad for them. She’s not gone, she’ll be back in a minute or two. Just a few seconds and her car will pull up in the driveway, she’ll get out with the grocery bags in her arms and give me a shout to come help her. I’ll take some of the bags and ask if she got the fudge ripple, and she’ll say that she thought I wanted spinach-flavored ice cream. I’ll laugh, and we’ll walk inside and she’ll put a pot on the stove and make spaghetti, because it’s Saturday, and Saturdays are spaghetti nights. I’ll make the sauce while she boils the pasta, and we put on jazz music and pretend to play the trumpet or the saxophone or the drums. We’ll sit and eat outside, because it’s a nice day and she likes when the sun is just barely peeking out from behind the clouds. I’ll eat my fudge ripple, and she’ll laugh because I bite into it all weird so that it doesn’t freeze my teeth. She’ll tell me that she loves me, and before I go to bed she’ll sing me a song, because if she doesn’t sing me a song then by law I can’t fall asleep. So she can’t be dead because then I can never sleep again because without her song I can’t fall asleep. She’s not dead. She can’t be.

I sit in the front row, dressed in black like everyone else, looking down like everyone else. I watch as they pile the dirt over her. I think of Cory. I think of him riding his bike down the road, thinking he’ll stop at the corner store and get a soda and meet his friends before he goes off to baseball camp. I think of the cement truck rumbling towards him, telling him that he’ll never get to have that soda, that he’ll never make it to the corner store. I think of Aunt Ruth, driving in her monster of a truck with her baseball cap pulled low over her eyes and her curly brown hair shooting out in all directions. She’s excited to meet her fiance for dinner. I see the panic in her eyes as a tiny pea-sized convertible swerves around the corner and darts straight into her path, telling her to kiss her fiance goodbye. I think of Grammie Louise, alone on the floor next to her bed, grasping at her chest and struggling to breath as the pain blossoms through her shaking body. I think of the look on her face when the color drains from it, when she stops shaking and her hand, the one she was holding her heart with, falls to her side, and the silence around her whispers that no one can help her. Then I think of Uncle Ronnie, sitting in his room on a stool, his head in his hands and his telephone on the floor. I think of the rope, the one he’s used to tie his boat to the docks, hanging above his head, looking so inviting after a lifetime of pain. I think of him getting dressed in his Sunday Best, fixing his hair, and stepping up onto the stool to face that rope, the one that is telling him he’s not worth it. Then I think of Momma. I think of her walking along the side of the road, a carton of milk in one hand, my fudge ripple in the other. I think of the red pickup truck full of drunken kids, kids that haven’t got a clue what they’re doing, swerving this way and that. I think of the kid behind the wheel, his vision blurring, his hands shaking as he twists the wheel to the right, and crashes into the sidewalk. I think of Momma, lying on the cold asphalt, the fudge ripple spilling out of its container, getting all over her hair and dripping from the tailgate. As she lies there, the sound of rushing cars whisper that she’ll never get home to me to give me my dessert and make me my dinner and sing me my song.

I think of the farm. I think of the cows that make chocolate milk and the chickens that lay golden eggs. I think of Momma, tending to the pigs and the sheep and swimming through the candy-filled silos. I think of Ronnie, and Ruth, and Grammie, and Cory, all lying in the bright green meadows, the grass playing with their hair and telling them that they are worth it, that they will make it, that they do matter.

I don’t play with the Bibles.

The author's comments:

This was very hard for me to write because death is a very emotional topic. However, I have been trying to improve my writing for some time, so I figured I would step way out of my comfort zone for this. I wrote this on April 1st. Thank you!

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