Yesterday's Magazette

7 – Forbidden Sweets

Forbidden Sweets

By Sheron Donahue

On a late summer afternoon in the small town of Aurora, Illinois, I skipped down the sidewalk wearing a maroon vest and a new white eyelet blouse.

It was the early forties and not uncommon for this five-year old to venture around the block.  I was just passing Mrs. Blanchard’s house and could smell the aroma of roses coming from her bushes lining the sidewalk.  As I continued my little adventure, I saw the corner gas station ahead.  Inside the station’s small store, customers paid for gas; and the store included a glassed-in counter with lots of tempting treats.

I still remember the details inside that tiny store.  Shelves full of car accessories lined the wall behind the case, leaving just enough room between the shelves and counter for the attendant to squeeze in and feed money into his old, ornate-gold cash register.   Opposite the counter, ten feet away, a doorway led out to the repair shop.  The stench of oil and grease filtered into the room.

On this particular day, I stopped outside the store to watch a tall, bearded man twirl the handle on the gas pump.  When the bell rang, he pumped gas into his shiny new, black 1944 Ford.

I lingered awhile wondering why the store clerk hadn’t responded when the car wheels ran over the hose that rang the shop bell.  Then, just as the bearded man was about to hang up the pump, I rushed towards the little white store.

It was always a struggle to push open the heavy door, but this time the tall stranger came in behind me and he shoved it open.  As I entered, the glassed-in case with all those tempting sweets stood to my left and straight ahead, a closed door with a sign saying, Lavatory.  Of course, I couldn’t actually read the sign, but knew what it meant.

I had been in this store many times before eyeing the candy and sometimes, with a penny or two, I’d buy a jaw-breaker or Tootsie Roll.  Other times I’d just peer through the glass case at the peppermint sticks and chocolate bars.

I loved chocolate–chocolate ripple ice cream, chocolate malts, chocolate cake, and, of course, chocolate candy bars…Still do!  However in those post-war days, I hardly ever had enough money to buy any candy.  In fact, Mom and Dad both worked just to put food on the table and a roof over our heads.  Candy, they’d say, was frivolous and unnecessary.

So when I’d pop into the store from time to time and gaze at the candy, (and also because I was small), the attendant rarely paid any attention to me, unless he heard my pennies clanging on the glass case.  Even then, if he was busy with a customer or in the repair shop, I would wait and wait and, sometimes, wait for what seemed hours before he’d bother with me.

That day, the chocolate bars behind the glassed-in case seemed especially tempting.  I could almost taste them, but had no money.  I glanced at the attendant in his dingy white tee shirt and grease stained bib overalls.

He wiped the sweat from his forehead with a blue and white handkerchief, and then waited on the tall, bearded man.  Without thinking, I slipped into the Lavatory, and then with my hands trembling, I locked the door.  I wondered if anyone had noticed me.  Then, I heard the bearded man leave.  Much later I heard the bell over the door jangle again, followed by the door slamming shut and the sound of a key turning in the lock.

I waited longer, making sure I heard no noise in the store.  Then I snuck out into the room, reached behind the glassed-in case, grabbed a chocolate bar and stuffed it in my pocket.  Peering outside and seeing no one, I unlocked the door, let myself out and quietly shut the door behind.

I ran like the wind almost all the way home, but stopped a few houses short, sitting under Mrs. Blanchard’s tree.  It was a favorite spot because Mrs. Blanchard was rarely home and the rose bushes lining the sidewalk hid me from view.

I unwrapped the bar, stuffing chocolate in my mouth.  The first bite melted and tasted sooo good. With the next bite, I dropped a bit of chocolate on my new blouse and dabbed at it with my skirt.  Then, from out of nowhere, the words from last Sunday’s sermon echoed: Thou shall not steal. I threw the sweet down on the ground, buried it in some dirt and ran home.

When I entered the house, the smell of fish frying on the stove made me sick to my stomach, so I ran to the bathroom.  Good riddance, I thought as I flushed the  remains away.  However, the misdeed left me feeling guilty and way too scared to ever enter that gas station again.

And that night instead of hopping right into bed, I knelt beside it and prayed: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  And Lord, if You’ll forgive me this one sin, I promise never-ever to steal again.”

Bio: Sheron has writing credits in, Working Writer, Yesterday’s Magazette, Complete Woman, Chicago Connections, Contact, Singles, Woman Magazine, P.W.P. Single Parent, Solo, Real Estate Today and Coldwell Banker Regional. This story will be part of her upcoming book, “God Forbid Anyone I Know Should Read This!”

Vol. 37 No. 2 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Summer- 2010


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