By Tanielle Dlamini
The leaves outside fly to the ground. The temperatures start to drop. Wal-Mart begins putting out dreadfully ugly Christmas sweaters. In comes the spur of pumpkin patch and cemetery dates, cuddling while watching horror movies, and sharing, more like stealing hoodies. Infamously known as Cuffing Season.
Unfortunately for me, Cuffing Season has turned into Hot Girl Winter, but before HGW begins, Sad Bitch Fall has to pass. The heartbreak has to be drowned in sugary foods and bread.
But that’ll ruin my body. As true as that is, a girl needs some support. Gyms exist, and it’s oversized sweater time.
I walked to the bakery, staring at all of the pastries. Many are covered in different types of beautiful nuts. My mouth waters at the sight. Which one will make me feel better? All, and none of them really. The words will simply come back to haunt me. I’m never sure if I’m talking about my now-ex or my mother. Maybe neither, maybe both.
Never eat nuts. It’ll ruin you.
Maybe I should get it all and stuff my face so that way I could let the self-hatred cease momentarily.
Or I could go home and cry on my couch, as all heartbroken people do. I can listen to Giveon sing about how he’s a cheater, and SZA always being the side chick. Brent’s gonna make me want to take my ex back, and Summer’s just gonna make me cry.
If I’m crying, I need ice cream. The freezer walls behind the bakery call my name. I note the different brands and flavors as I walk up and down.
Ben and Jerry’s is always good, and so is Blue Bunny. Haagen-Dazs look delicious, but–
My eyes stumble upon the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen: Little Debbie ice cream. Cosmic Brownie, Honey Bun, Zebra Cake, and … oh my goodness. Nutty Bar.
Nutty Bars have to be the best peanut butter-flavored thing out there (this is shade, Snickers). I’ve imagined the chocolatey peanut butter melting against my tongue in the bar form. Imagined what it would taste like in ice cream form. Christ, I could faint.
Too bad my mother advised me against peanuts.
The sugary dessert beckoned me closer and closer. My mother wasn’t here, so what was she going to do? My hand wrapped around its frost-covered packaging and began pulling it out.
The hell? It’s stuck. The ice cream won’t move. I try the one behind it. Same thing; it will not move.
I contemplate calling an employee, but then the thought of an employee coming and pulling out the ice cream with ease freezes me in my place. I pull harder and harder, but the ice cream still won’t budge.
“Is this the universe trying to stop me from having basic joy?” I mumble, “Come on, you guys. I just broke up with my partner.”
The air in the freezer intensifies. Cool air surrounds me as I continue pulling on the ice cream.
“Unhand that frozen dessert at once,” a voice yells from behind me, “You have no right.”
The ice cream finally releases into my hand; the satisfaction only lasting a second. I turn to see two large squirrels holding a spear with an acorn tip. “Last time I checked the civil rights movement ended, and I have rights. I’m taking this ice cream.”
“Not before you are placed on trial.” As I go to walk away, two hands grab my arms and another pair takes my ice cream. A bag is placed over my head, stealing my vision. Before I know it, I’m lifted off of the ground and taken to my inevitable fate.
Something yanks the bag off of my head. Light rushes to my eyes. I blink trying to adjust.
What the hell? Yellow-leaved trees surround me. Peanut-like fruits hang from its branches. The soft yellow, fleece-like grass kisses my now-bare toes. The sky is still blue, thankfully, but the clouds are tan peanuts.
Sweet mother of peanuts.
The clothes I wear are not my own. The extravagant plush red dress I wore was embroidered with white peanuts. My hair—straight and much neater in fashion than I’m used to with my kinks and coils—now fall straight down my back.
Shackles adorn my wrist as I stand before a grotesquely beautiful queen and her peanut-encrusted throne. Her eyes hold a glare as deadly as snake venom. The quirk of her two-toned lips sends me into madness. The not-peanut crown that she wears is one that I’ve never imagined seeing again. An afro so large that it could suffocate you without trying.
“Mother.” I breathe. “Mother, why have you done this to me?”
“Stop being dramatic, Jasmine,” she says, waving her hand in the air. “We just need to have a little chat.” Her lips form an even more sinister smile.
Six uniform-wearing squirrels march out of the forest. Two stand behind my mother, two more behind me, and the last two in the space between us. Birds sprout from two of the peanut trees, about six on each. They cast a deadly glare at me. Shivers run down my spine, as my blood turns to ice.
The person who walks into the spot sends my brain into a frenzy.
“No,” I say, “No, no, no. And, if I wasn’t clear, no. Please, I am begging, Parker, get out.” Parker is the last person I want to see, and I’m sure they don’t want to see me either.
Parker doesn’t respond to me, only going to sit on the ottoman next to my mother. Their lips tell me nothing, but their eyes hold a devilish glint. The same one that made my heart race, when we met. The one that’s making it race now.
“Jasmine Carver, you are on trial for the Heartbreak of Parker Wilson,” my mother says. She bangs a gavel to gather everyone’s attention.
“What? No, no, no. Parker broke up with me.” That’s why I was red and puffy-eyed in the middle of a Wal-Mart. The heartbreak had already taken its toll on me, but now I’m on trial? Tears start to spring again, but I push them back down. I do not have the time.
“How could you say that?” Parker finally says “I was so good to you. I loved you with my heart and soul. Every day, I was so happy to be your partner, then you just broke up with me.” Parker started to cry, making each bird squawk in my direction. They glare daggers at me, but I match their stare.
“Order in the court!” my mother yells. The woman is not a judge, that much I know. How I got to be in this position, God I wish I knew. “You two are to behave yourselves in the court. You will each be presenting your case in front of the Jury of Tits.”
“The jury of what now?” I snicker.
“We take pride in our name, Ms. Carver,” a blue-headed tit cheeps, “You’re not helping your case by laughing.”
“Ruling against me because I laughed is juror misconduct, and you could get in some trouble for that. Do me a favor and calm your tits.” The bird leaned back on its branch, putting its beak down. I snicker once more before composing myself. “Now, I did not break Parker’s heart. Parker broke up with me on a random Wednesday.”
My mother bangs her gavel against the arm of her throne. “You will each present your case, then the jury will decide. Please, bring in your lawyers.”
A woman with hair as red as fire walks in and stands behind Parker. Her saccharine smile matches her too-sweet blue plaid dress. The baby blue eyes and pale skin tell me the outcome of this case.
“Your name?” my mother asks.
“Deborah Little,” she says, a thick southern accent rolling off of her tongue.
“I don’t have a lawyer,” I say. The Jury of Tits chirp with laughter. “Shut it, or I will cook you for dinner.” Silence fell over the forest-court. “I wasn’t really notified of anything; I was actually kidnapped from a Wal-Mart—which is illegal, and I will be suing everyone in here.”
“Oh, well then. Speak your case, and the jury will decide. Parker, since you came prepared, you will go first.”
“Thank you, your honor.” Parker steps forward. “Ms. Carver, over there was my girlfriend of three years, and I loved her with everything. One day, I came home and found her with another person—not a person, a man—on our couch,” Parker chokes out a sob, “Canoodling with each other.”
“Objection, your honor,” I say, “I have two things. One, can I take these shackles off, they’re starting to hurt my wrist? Two, that ‘man’ was my best friend. Whom of which you knew because he set us up on a date. That’s how we got together.”
Parker’s mouth drops open, and their lawyer steps forward. “If he’s only your best friend, then why were y’all canoodling?” she asks.
“We weren’t canoodling. We were watching a horror movie. Parker wasn’t home and I got scared, so I hung onto him. Oh, and mind you, he’s ace. That man hasn’t thought about canoodling since his parents created him.”
The tits whisper-cheep about the current information. Parker and Deborah glare at me, and I wonder how I got here.
“Take the shackles off of her,” my mother orders. Each of my squirrel guards unlock the chains that embellish my wrist. They fall to the ground with a loud clang while my fingers soothe the ache that lay beneath them. “Parker, next piece of evidence.”
“Don’t I get a turn?” I interrupt.
“You, and what lawyer or evidence?” my mother says, her lips pursed. If she was standing, her hand would’ve rested on her hip, in true motherly-sassy fashion.
“They may continue.”
“I have multiple texts from Ms. Carver stating that she doesn’t love me.” Parker pulls out printed sheets of Instagram DMs—the most reliable source of information—and hands them to my mother. My mother looks over them and then raises a brow at me.
The documents are then handed to me by one of the squirrel guards. Skimming them I immediately know they aren’t me.
Who would say that Harry Styles is the King of Pop? I’mma need them to be soo freaking for real; it’s obviously MJ.
“Momma.” My eyes linger on hers, even she has to know. “This ain’t me.”
“That is not you,” she agrees, as the documents are taken to the Jury.
“It actually seems to not be her,” the blue-headed tit says, “The name is Carter, not Carver.”
“And,” I interject. “And, and, and, I was at work. I can’t use my phone at work, so how could I have texted them paragraphs?”
The birds huddle together, discussing more information. Soft chirps fill the air, then the blue-headed tit turns back to us. “Wilson, have you been lying to us?”
“No, no. I promise. I…” They sigh and tears fill their eyes. Oh no. This is how I lose everything. “I’ve been under a lot of stress, and I just haven’t been okay lately. I saw my girlfriend—ex-girlfriend—canoodling with another person, and then the text from her—the name is a typo. Then, her going to eat ice cream—Nutty Bar ice cream—after I’ve told her not to. I just can’t do it. Her breaking up with me was the last straw. My heart was shattered.” A single tear falls from their eye. Then another falls. Then another tear falls. Then the dam has broken and the Jury descends into madness, chirping, and feathers flapping.
The sky turns to a deep, deep gray. Clouds covered any hope of sunlight we have. Thunder claps. It sounds like Parker. “You did this to me! How could you break my heart?”
“You broke mine!” I yell at the thunder. “You did this, it’s all your fault. All of the evidence points to you, Parker. Can’t I just enjoy my life for once? Can’t I just enjoy my ice cream?” A tear threatens to fall from my eye, but I suppress it. Crying won’t help me as it did Parker.
“We’ll make sure you aren’t able to enjoy anything for a long time,” the blue-headed tit says, “You, Jasmine Carver, are guilty.”
My mother’s gavel bangs in agreement. Cheers erupt from Deborah and Parker, a rainbow stretching over the sky, as the squirrels put the cold metal back on my wrist. I feel my freedom fade, while they drag me away.
Light floods my eyes as I open them. I expect some sort of jail cell with Parker smirking outside of the bars, but instead I see white ceilings and the soft hum of a TV. The bed I lay on isn’t the comfiest, but it works. The clothes, once again, aren’t my own. This time they’re foreign open-backed cotton.
An IV trails out of my arm. Beeps fill the sound in the room.
“Oh, thank goodness, you’re awake.” My mother sighs. Her beauty is less grotesque than before. Her face is bare and her hair straightened as usual.
“What happened to me, and why am I in a hospital?”
“You went into anaphylactic shock, Jasmine.”
“Apparently, you ate some Nutty Bar ice cream. I found you on the ground passed out.” She takes a deep sigh. Her eyelids flutter shut. “Jasmine, I have something to tell you.” My ears perk up, though I have no choice but to listen to her. “You’re allergic to peanuts.”
I stay silent for a moment. “I realize that now. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, I didn’t want to believe I was related to a degenerate.”
“It was a life-threatening allergy!”
“It was a family-threatening allergy! We would become outcasts.”
“Because I’m allergic to peanuts?”
“So, instead of telling me that, I’m allergic to peanuts. You just told me not to eat them. I could’ve died, Mom.”
“But you didn’t. Look, there are many things in this world you don’t understand, dear. This is one of them.” She begins to walk out of the room. “Be glad I saved you from prison.” With that she walks out, and slams the door.
I lay there in my hospital bed, confused and with a headache. I look next to me and see a small yellow-leaved plant. A note lay next to it.
I’ll get you next time.