top of page

Ice cream.

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Who doesn't love ice cream?

“This has been the hike from hell,” Jake commented, stopping to catch his breath and take another gulp of their dwindling water.

Celeste didn’t vocalize her agreement, appreciating the moment to rest her aching leg muscles. The sun hung blisteringly high in the sky without a cloud in sight, pulling the temperature up to an arid 85 degrees, perhaps the worst conditions to hike in. Sweat wasn’t just dripping down her back, it poured, both of their tanks and shorts soaked. If she had the energy to chastise Jake for getting them lost in some endless Ohio cornfield, she would have, but for now she was reserving her energy. He was the one who insisted they leave their phones behind and find their path “the old-fashioned way”, he was the one who chose the trail, the one who convinced her to take one “slight deviation” from the main path to avoid the mud since he was “really good at finding his way.”

“Maybe we should just turn around and follow the path back,” she suggested after taking a sip of the bottle he’d tossed in her direction.

“Turn back and walk for another four hours? I don’t think so. We don’t have enough water to make it. There’s got to be something up ahead past the cornfield.”

Celeste sighed. “Yeah, a church filled with children who want to sacrifice us to their corn gods.”

Jake put his hands on his hips. “This is a National Park Trail, they will have places to rest. Quit being dramatic, I’m hot too. Let’s just go a bit further.”

Celeste groaned, pushing her tired body forward despite its aching protestations. After some time, shadows began to move across the unrelenting sun and she looked up in the hopes that she would see some white, puffy clouds crossing overhead. She realized it was actually a pair of vultures, patiently soaring in zigzags as they walked. “Jake, we’re going to die and get eaten by buzzards.”

“Look up ahead,” he ignored her.

“It’s probably a mirage like on the Looney Tunes. Remember that show? The buzzards circling overhead and the pretend oasis in the desert?”

“It’s a damn ice cream shop,” Jake realized, elation in his voice. “I told you there would be a pit stop. We can ask them for directions.”

“Oh thank God,” Celeste sighed as they suddenly found a burst of energy that pushed them on. The paint on the old white barn was peeling, but the windows looked new enough, the sign posted in the front of the building that boasted “Country Trail Ice Cream Shoppe” had another one posted below it that said, “Open.” There were a few picnic tables situated on the side, one with a folded umbrella. From all appearances, it looked like a typical old-fashioned ice cream shop.

Jake pulled the door open to release a blast of orgasmically cold air on their faces, and Celeste didn’t even have time to worry how crazy they must look to shop owners before she closed her eyes and moaned with happiness. Jake gave her a nudge. She opened them to see a young waif of a teenager with sprinkles of acne and thin, oily blonde hair gathered behind her neck.

“Sorry, we were lost in this awful heat,” Celeste told her with a smile. “Can we please have a few cups of water?”

The teenage girl suddenly looked nervous. “We only have well water here, ma’am. I wouldn’t suggest drinking it.”

“Well, we’re going to have to chance it. We need water.”

“Let me go get my manager,” she said meekly, disappearing behind the wall.

Jake and Celeste shared a look. “I think I’ll jump over the counter and strangle her if they don’t give us some damn water,” he told her. His face had taken on the shade of a tomato, the lips he licked with his dry tongue equally dry and cracked. Celeste looked around them, appreciative at least to be in the air conditioning. The counter displayed various flavors of ice cream in vats, a couple small tables next to the window holding silver napkin holders. Her eyes focused on a small fly that buzzed around them, landing on the metal scoop that had been left in the vat of creamy pink. She suddenly could taste the strawberries, her mouth beginning to salivate.

“Hey there, folks, sorry for the misunderstanding,” a booming voice filled the parlor. Celeste looked up to see a man in his late forties with a wispy crop of black hair and an even blacker mustache, wearing a cherry stained apron. He looked abnormally tall next to the teenage girl who had summoned him, who shyly averted her eyes as he spoke. His large swell of stomach bounced as he talked. “We get our water from the well, but a few days ago, one of our cows found its way in there and drowned. It’s an open well, you see, but usually the cows don’t make it that far. Anyways, the old girl tripped and fell, and no one was the wiser until a few days later when there was a funny taste in the water. We fished her corpse out, but I don’t think you’ll be wanting to drink any of that for awhile.”

Jake shared Celeste’s look of disgust, but he tried to maintain his typical pleasant demeanor. “Do you have anything at all to drink? We got lost hiking and the wife and I are exhausted.”

The man suddenly locked in on Celeste with dark eyes. “Are you having a baby?”