CHOCOLATE

Well, she had always been told that chocolate was bad for you: made you fat, rotted your teeth, all that. So she’d given it up. The sugar rush was a thing of the past: that dizzying, sparking sensation, that access of energy and then that sublime torpor. Oh well. Better not bother with it. Better live life on an even keel. 

Except one day, she found a new sweet shop. It was tucked up an alleyway, which was narrow and dark. There were serried ranks of jars containing confectionary she had never seen before: strange colours (purple and turquoise) and odd shapes (rats’ tails, long breasts, umbilical cords). But then suddenly, on the corner of the counter, she spied something else. It was a bar of chocolate in gold and silver paper. It seemed to emit a whinnying sound. It smelled of warm hay.

 

The owner of the shop was a bland-looking chap, with sandy eyebrows and a diffident expression. When she asked for a bar of the chocolate, he named an astronomical price, but said: “I think you’ll find it well worth the cost, Madame, but don’t eat too much at once, whatever you do. Next time, be sure to ask for ‘Catherine Wheel Chocolate, No.1. And tell your friends.”

 

Once out of the shop, she slipped a couple of squares into her mouth. After a while, something odd happened. She started to feel very warm: first in her lips, then in her breasts, then in her genital area, then over her whole body. A tingling, a swirling sensation overwhelmed her, and then, right there in the street, she experienced the most mind-blowing orgasm. It was like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, only without the subterfuge. And this shattering sensation was achieved without any stimulation by hand, tongue or penis. The implications of this were far-reaching, to say the least. You didn’t have to be polite to the chocolate. But you certainly had to be grateful to it.

 

The Catherine Wheel Chocolate never disappointed. She went back to the shop and bought about a bar a week. Soon her friends began to notice how well she was looking: her hair and skin shone, and she had a lot more spare time too. She told them the address of the shop, and soon there were queues outside, and then rather a lot of rosy women lolling against lamp-posts afterwards. There were Questions asked: wasn’t it dangerous for women to be so autonomous, wouldn’t it make them spurn the sexual act with men (or indeed with anyone), wouldn’t it upset the emotional economy? Something would have to be done. 

 

The authorities (sometimes the women called them the Magisterium) closed the shop. But the owner always managed to find another short let. It was easy to find new rentals in the post-Covid climate. The consumers of the Catherine Wheel Chocolate always advertised the new venues by a series of secret codes, cyphers and symbols, often chalked on the walls of churches or Government buildings. Looking for the messages, and interpreting them, was a lot of fun. But not as much fun as eating the chocolate.

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© 2020 by Sue Harper

feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | supernatural | fantastic and paranoia | literary female gothic | gothic narrative | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest | portsmouth university | emeritus professor sue harper | feminist gothic literature | tales of the macabre | fantastic and supernatural | gothic fiction | written by women | gothic literary tradition | gothic fiction | outstanding achievement award | british association of film, theatre and television | professor of film history at portsmouth university | film, media and creative arts | british academy and the arts and humanities research council | stories of transformation and surprise | sue harper | short stories | feminist gothic literature | The Dark Nest |