Moon Pie Energy

CRAIG SNYDER

Spring days had arrived, green and tender, the time of beginnings. Warm breezes were flowing, awakening our little island from its winter slumber. We watched in growing joy as it was transformed into a beautiful, glittering jewel set amid bottle-green seas. The changing winds had brought other changes as well, for Mother said I was to have a new backpack and my mind was opening like a flower, filled to bursting with the glorious possibilities of small, masked pockets and the numerous secret compartments whose discovery would become my consuming obsession.

"Your old one is worn and has a hole in the bottom," she said, hanging bleached sheets on the clothesline to dry. The morning sun lit them like square, fluttering lights, and the intense white dazzled my eyes, making them water. “You must choose a new one."

"When can we go?" I asked. I struggled to conceal my excitement.

"Today, when your classes are finished."

The hardest part was the waiting. I dragged myself from one class to another. The teachers looked like vibrating sticks. Lunch tasted like old paste. My friends looked at me as if I were an escaped gorilla.

"I'm getting a new backpack after school," I explained. Then they understood everything.

The bus was slow — the air thick with suppressed teen angst — but finally I was home. My black and white uniform was carefully folded and stored, and after a snack of fruit and cheese we took the subway to Cool Chrome Paradox in Sector 4 near the energy plants where my father worked. Pale youths in black raincoats sneered at us from the rear of the car, slouching in packs. We ignored them. They carry no weapons. The minutes seemed to drag by more slowly than usual, and I fidgeted in my seat. At last the doors opened with a pneumatic hiss, and we emerged into the busy crowds swirling around the government boutiques that formed Joy Steal Mall.

Cool Chrome Paradox was a store for students like me. Everything was expensive and this was very attractive to all who shopped most seriously.

"A neon one with glow tubes?" the salesgirl inquired, indicating the display. "It's radioactive."

"This style is not current and will not be helpful to my studies," I answered quietly.

"Of course." Her voice was full of respect. My knowledge of fashion was very detailed. This was understood.

"A new series has just arrived, the Mach Soviet," she said, bowing low and pointing to a row of steel colored rigi-forms with active circuit boards built into the frames. The straps were the mesh memory variety I favored, and I saw many slyly concealed areas with subtle vocal seals.

"We anticipate much happiness with this line," she said.

"I will examine one,” I said. "Are there snacks?"

She guided us to an area set aside for decision-making. We sat on low padded chairs before a circular table of black glass. Colorful trays filled with my favorite snacks were artfully arranged on the tabletop. There was hot green tea in tiny cups. We sipped the tea slowly. I selected a moon-pie and bit into the glistening chocolate crust. Sugar anointed the buying process and provided correct space for contemplation. 

The Mach Soviet was delivered, virgin in shrink-wrapped plastic. I inspected it thoroughly, and even smelled it. The aroma of newness, as always, was intoxicating, triggering memories of product-buying stored like hidden seeds in my DNA strings. It would meet my needs, I decided, finishing the moon-pie and cleaning my mouth with a scented napkin that smelled of Jasmine.

"Your decision is wise," said the salesgirl as she scanned the bar code on my hand and tendered the receipt.

"You are skilled and I will remember you," I said. 

Once again she bowed.

Twilight had arrived. The sky glowed with hovering neon adverts jostling for position in the crowded air. My mother and I sought the subway entrance, holding hands. Red flashing arrows guided us and we arrived without incident. Once seated, I began to examine my new possession in minute detail, exploring the many pockets and complex functions during the long trip. 

"Your choice has brought me much joy," my mother said. Her voice had an unfamiliar quality, a new respect. She looked at me with shining eyes. She knew I would soon assume adult status and power. 

"You honor me," I replied, yawning. I fell asleep before the ride was over, curling up like a ball in my mother's lap. 

During the evening meal I displayed my purchase for my father, who was weary but nodded appropriately before turning his attention to the paper and a glass of rice wine. I excused myself promptly at 8 o’clock and retired to my room for a period of silence and meditation. I could not sleep because the high energy of the moon pie had disturbed my normal rhythms. I did not mind. 

“The Mysteries of Life are revealed in night silence.” This is a thing my grandmother says to me. She is always smiling, and when she smiles her wrinkled face becomes sly and cat-like. She knows I struggle to understand the old thoughts. They seem to swim slowly, riding the deep currents of my brain, while mine dance on the foamy, ever-changing wave-tops. 

I spend the time thinking about school — how my education would be greatly advanced with the help of my new backpack. The future is almost here, I thought, wondering what it would bring.

I stared at it reverently. Black metal handcuffs were built in, and I chained myself to it as the sun ball rose, bright yellow rays shining with mounting strength through my window. No one could steal it from me now, I knew. The handcuffs would only respond to a special code I had just programmed into the backpack's liquid memory. I felt the caffeine from the moon pie finally loosen its chocolate grip. A thrill of happiness arced up my spine. 

It was a secret code.

Craig Snyder is an amateur web designer and writer from Columbus, Ohio. His short fiction has appeared in The Dream People and in print anthologies including Bare Bone. His work sometimes appears under the pseudonym

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