Katie Mazza-Phillips

This happened in a candy store, mind you. Me, nearly forty years old, pushing a fifty-something bitch into a rack of taffy. She hit the display hard, flailing her arms around to steady herself. Or maybe she thought she could fucking fly if she flapped hard enough. Either way, she pulled the racks of taffy down with her. Her cushy ass stuck up in the air. A rainbow of chewy, pulled sugar scattered around her hands and knees. She was trying to get up, but she couldn’t quite make it. 

She had her kids with her, an older boy who was taller than me but thin enough to snap in half. The other kid was younger, a girl with a long braid of hair that she started sucking on while crying. The boy started crying, too, and screaming. He grabbed handfuls of hard candies from the penny candy barrel and chucked them at me. A couple of butterscotch candies flew over my head, but one of those candies that are wrapped up to look like a strawberry hit me rock solid between the eyes. I shouted and the boy stopped for a second. He seemed surprised, stunned really, that he hit his target. He was one of those kids that gets picked last for baseball teams, for sure. That pause gave me enough time to put him in a headlock and shake his hands loose of any more sugary ammo. 

“Stop. Stop. You’re hurting him,” his sister cried out in a thin, high-pitched voice.

“You always have to have your little sister fight your battles?” I asked him. 

He responded in the negative, or at least I think he did because he was muffled by the arm I had hooked around his neck. At this point, Mama Bear had righted herself and she was not happy. She charged and knocked me to the ground, but I took her son down with us. The three of us were rolling around in a tangled pile like a bunch of white chocolate pretzels. The other tourists in the store were laughing and clapping. A couple dressed in matching shirts that read “Life’s a Beach” were filming the whole thing on their phones. Later that night in our rented cottage, Donald would review the footage on Twitter. “Sweep the legs next time,” he’d say.

While the woman and I jabbed at each other, her son managed to extricate himself and began pelting me with hard candies again. A root beer barrel careened off my arm, but he was hitting his mother more than me. “Fucking stop it, Barry,” she finally yelled. 

Braid Girl was sucking and weeping as I pinned her mother to the ground. “Stop hitting yourself,” I commanded as I smacked her face over and over with her own hands. 

The woman started crying, too, which meant I had won. But I didn’t stop, not until a cop pulled me off her. I recognized him as the guy who helped pedestrians cross the intersection in front of the Crab Shack. His neon-yellow vest got all twisted around when he grabbed me.

“She took the last giant gobstopper,” I pleaded in my own defense. “Ripped it right out of my hands.”

“What?” the traffic cop said.

“You’re psychotic,” the lady yelled.

“And you’re a thief,” I spat back.

“I’ve seen fistfights over parking spaces. Once a souvenir seller accused another souvenir seller of being in his territory,” the cop said. “But I’ve never seen two grown women fighting over candy before.” 

He wrote us citations for disturbing the peace or something made up like that. As he was handing me my citation, the teenage cashier came out of the store’s backroom. 

“We have a couple more gobstoppers in storage,” she said. “You guys want ‘em?” 

I bought one and the lady bought one, the original having rolled off somewhere during our scuffle. The store manager asked that we not come back to the candy store ever again.

The gobstopper changes flavors as you lick it. It’s so big it lasts all day, while you shop or walk the beach or try to pretend that everyone in a seaside town isn’t whispering about you. Blueberry. Banana. A kind of melon flavor now. Something has to change so it might as well be the candy. It certainly isn’t going to be me. 

Katie Mazza-Phillips is a Creative Director at an advertising agency in New York. Her writing has appeared in Gargoyle Magazine and The Rat’s Ass Review. When not writing, Katie enjoys spending time at the beach with her husband and their dog, Ziggy. If you like seeing weird doodles and pictures of the ocean, you can follow Katie on Instagram at @worldofktebs

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