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Chocolate Ration

Perhaps you didn’t notice that the clock ticks

faster these days, you failed to observe how

the mornings start at eight thirty, nine thirty, ten…

that before things get properly going, the day

starts fading towards late afternoon.  And how

pens run out of ink lately.  The novel you thought

at last you have time to finish merely displays

scar-like scratchings when you attempt to write

another chapter.  Again and again frustratingly

another hour passes, another year.


You can’t exactly remember what you did yesterday

or the names of those folks you visited last week, but

some things come back in excruciatingly detailed

technicolor.  You are seven, the Second World War is

still screaming across the sky with its nightly load of

V-1 bombs.  You wake at six, your mother is frying

eggs, making toast.  A bird outside sings like Gracie

Fields.  The grass, mown yesterday, still smells like

rolling in it, like hide and seek, like handstands.


Today is special.  At school they’re handing out a

ration of chocolate powder.  Each kid must bring two

tins to fill.  You’ve been waiting for weeks that seem

like years.  You trudge up the hill to school, your miniscule

cocoa tins rattling in your satchel. You’re early, a blackbird

laughs from his perch on a wire, singing like a musical

box that doesn’t need winding.


And then you’re at last in line for the chocolate.  All the

other kids have huge tins and yours are so tiny.  And the

teacher filling them doesn’t like you.  Perhaps it’ll run out

before your turn.  And the fragrance of that incredible

chocolate powder fills your nose, your every longing pore.

You can drink it in milk or just pour a little into your palm

and lick those sweet memories melting on your tongue, as if

that heavenly taste would continue forever, your tins would

never empty and every minute of your life from now on

would be filled with slowly sipping slurping goodness.

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© Johnmichael Simon



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