Going for Snow Cones

Great-Grandma always drove her car like she was putting lotion on the wheel. “Oh, oh, oh,” she would say, way down in the driver’s seat. “I’m not sure what street I take.” And we kids would say “Turn here, where we always do!” Sometimes her hat didn’t want to go that way. Sometimes all of her bead necklaces seemed to work against her catching a breath. And then her knuckles would set and her arms would move like she was wringing a chicken’s neck, and there we were, at the Sno-Cone Shack, beside the dance hall and the bayou full of beer bottles. All five of us piling out and running around to her window for our quarters.

We stared over a plywood shelf-counter just below a sliding window. The ice shaver’s metal wheel had dolphins on it that looked like they were leaping in and out of the water when it was turned. A chisel blade ran like a phonograph needle across the block and thin ribbons of ice curled up. Mr. Ricky would lift a feathery mound with a putty knife and slap it in a paper cone, shaping it round. We only began to breathe again when someone said Grape, or Watermelon, or Cherry. And he would turn to the row of bottled flavors and pump bright liquid over the snow.

One by one we received our treats and went to sit at a picnic table under pine trees. The most private moment for each of us was when only melt-color remained in the softened paper of the cone. That last cold sip.

And then we would wake her up. Help her fix her hat and remind her of how to start the car. “Okay where are we going now?” she would ask. And we would all say “Back home!” And that always make her cry. But we would give her a tissue, and without looking behind her she would back out into the road and steer away. Passing all the new places that had sprung up since we left.

Daryl Scroggins has taught creative writing and literature at The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of North Texas, and the Writer’s Garret, in Dallas. He now lives in Marfa, Texas. He is the author of This Is Not the Way We Came In, a collection of flash fiction and a flash novel (Ravenna Press).

See more of his work in 7.2 and 7.2 again and in issue 6.2 here and here and here and in Special Flash issue 50/50 here and here