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The ice cream man looked like a reasonable guy. More cheerful than most of them. He’d just set up his stand two blocks down from my apartment building. I usually visited the one outside the park but stopped to try something new.

I didn’t know his name. They were all called – ice cream man.

Seven flavors. Too much choice I thought. It was tough to narrow it down to two. The man gave me my space, which is a good thing. Customers needed time to decide. Hasty buys never amounted to much.

Chocolate chip or Banana crumble.

I buried my hands deep into my pockets. It helped me think. The hot sun wasn’t helping. It beat down on my head like it was a bongo drum.

I probably looked perplexed, so the ice cream man came to my rescue.

‘Which way you leaning today?’

I didn’t look up at him, but my words reached him.

‘Don’t know. Can’t say.’

He backed off, easing some of the pressure. I liked that. It cleared some of my confusion. That’s when I pointed at the pale yellow one.

‘I’ll have bitterscotch. Two scoops in a cone please.’

I still stared at the ice cream but could feel the man’s eyes on me. Perhaps a weak smile on his face.

His gloved hand opened the case, and he dug the shiny ice cream scooper into the thick, frozen paste. Two round balls, just the way I liked them. He plopped them into a tall, brown crispy cone.

My mouth was already watering.

He handed me the ice cream, but not before topping it with sprinkles. I didn’t ask, he didn’t explain, possibly a freebie.

One lick and joy oozed from my eyes. The ice cream man saw it and revealed what he had been withholding.

‘It’s butterscotch not bitterscotch.’

That’s when I looked at him. And said what I really felt.

‘I’m more bitter than I look. How can my ice cream be any different?’

I pedaled away without looking back. I was only nine but knew the truth about life’s bitter flavor.

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18 Comments on “Bitterscotch Ice Cream – Flash Fiction Story

  1. I’ve read this three or four times, Terveen but am still confused: is the icecream man a pervert or a good guy??? I’m not sure which way you’re leaning ??? or am I totally misreading it??

    • Hi John! The ice cream man is a good guy. It’s the child who is a twist at the end. And the child’s bitter outlook on life and the world around. Kind of heavy for a child’s thinking, but children are going through so much these days. Childhood is just an adorable term now.
      Thank you so much for seeking clarification.
      I hope this explanation helps. 🙂

  2. Ah, I adore the way you used butter and bitter in this piece, Terveen; life is both, I think. The story also brought back memories, good mostly, of my first job, which was, yep, scooping ice cream. Fun. 🍦🍨😊

    • Oh wow, Jeff! What a coincidence. 🙂
      Life is butter and bitter. Just hope it doesn’t dip either way too much.
      Thank you so much! 🙂

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  4. LOL. He is a stickler on pronunciations. You know I have friends like that who just like to correct other people’s pronunciation and grammar, kind of like Ross in “Friends”. LOL. So funny. He’s probably an English teacher before who lost his job due to his daring explanation (alternative explanation) of classical literature. LOL.

    • Not that’s such a creative perspective. I really like that.
      Ross was hilarious. And what about his acquired British accent?
      You’re right. The ice cream man definitely has past experience in linguistics.
      Thank you so much for your charming and witty comments. 🙂

    • You’re so right, Shobana! It’s such a sweet treat. Cool and delicious. Soothes the bitterness. 🙂
      Thank you so much.

  5. I completely know what it’s like to be spoiled for choice, the fewer the options, the better, in my opinion. My only issue with Ice Cream Man was the adding of the sprinkles. If I didn’t ask for them, don’t take it upon yourself to decide toppings to suit my tastes, unless you were offering the cone for free, in which case beggars can’t be choosers.

    I happen to like butterscotch but on the rare occasion, I have found, especially in pudding, that it can have a bitter aftertaste.

    In any event, great job as per the norm. Your stories are always short and buttersweet. “I’m more butter than I look. How can my viewpoint be any different?”

    • Rhyan, it’s great to have you and your wonderful words back. I think the Ice Cream Man better watch out for you. Not all customers are so sure of what they want, and how they want it. You might just be the toughest cookie to please.
      And butterscotch is a flavor that has some uncertainty to it. It can be good and bad at the same time. A buttersweet viewpoint is something we all crave and can’t have enough of. Thank you so much! And take care. 🙂

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