Anser Journal

Which flavour lollipop is the best and why is it watermelon?

By Betsie Flynn

The first real sunshine of the year and somehow I’m always picking up
as many as I can and gliding down the escalator to pay. I’m sucking them
on the bus home from Canterbury, forty-five minutes in the cabbage-baking heat

if I’m lucky. It’s always cabbages, fields upon menacing fields of them. The stench
of their leaves sweating in the sun makes a little bit of sick claw its way up. I swallow
it back, just like I always do, and it’s fine because everything tastes better with watermelon.

Sucking lollipops on buses isn’t without its dangers. Even in my school uniform –
maybe, distressingly, because of my school uniform – it draws stares. Lip-licking. Eyes trying
to meet mine. I see them reflected in the window as I watch the lines of cabbages sunbathing.

Once, the bus broke down and I walked cross-cabbage through those fields.
It was raining then, and it turns out that wet cabbage smells almost as bad as sun-dried
when it has worked its way down into your socks. Up under your school trousers.

Shins spat on with cabbage-breath. It took me years to trust coleslaw,
which to me seemed like cabbage in disguise. Somewhere between salad and spying.
I still want to high-five Cabbage Whites when they skim past me,

hoping they’ve been very hungry. So hungry that cabbage crops dwindle, desolate.
On one memorable first date I was taken to a fancy salad bar where over half the bowl
was proudly filled with varieties of cabbage. Despite that, we married.

Betsie Flynn is a Kentish transplant to the Brecon Beacons, where she lives with her husband, children, and cats. Her words are forthcoming or appearing in a few places, including The Odd Magazine, Nymphs, and The Wondrous Real. She has been known to tweet @betsieflynn.