I didn’t break into Oswaldtwistle Mills one night to lick the ‘World’s Largest Pear Drop’ due to a love of sweets, I was more a savoury kind of guy. No, I licked the pear drop for the worst reason in the book; for a girl.
Chloe was perhaps the best thing that had ever happened to me, and not a lot of good stuff did happen to me. She was dazzling, funny, and shared a love for cheese toasties, making her pretty much the one for me, that one in a million. But she also had a wild side which I did not, for sometimes she liked to push the boundaries of society by smashing some plates, or something equally wild. I felt I couldn’t keep up with this side of her, and ultimately she’d grow bored with our relationship, and run off with a kleptomaniac or an arsonist. This sort of thing happens more than you’d think.
So after hours of planning, one anxiety stricken day, I devised the licking of the pear drop plan. We hid in the Textiles Museum, a forgotten area littered with washed out mannequins and CCTV blind spots. Few knew of the rich textiles history of Oswaldtwistle, due to how the entrance was lost behind a colourful card shop. The perfect spot to prepare for the perfect crime. Plus Chloe enjoyed the idea of an innocent crime for once, though I didn’t press on what she meant by ‘for once’.
Night struck, and we donned our balaclavas. We knew the CCTV systems would catch sight of us, so the more obscured we were, the better. It didn’t take long to reach the pear drop, for Chloe seemed quite adept at sneaking in darkness, and I even let her pull open the glass case with the crowbar we’d stashed away in a bag for life. I was part of her wild side and my heart felt like it was going to pop. It felt good.
Once open, the pear drop stood before us, larger than a fully grown sheep, coated in pink and yellow hard-boiled goodness, and smelling oh so sweet. I stepped forward, to show I was on equal footing on the wild ‘o’ meter, and gave the pear drop a real good lick. It had been there for who knows how many years, yet it still tasted as a pear drop would, except a little dustier.
But before Chloe could get a lick, things began to fall apart. The alarms suddenly starting ringing, and the pear drop crumbled into dust. It seemed one simple lick was too much for the age old pear drop, and we had to run before we could consider the situation. Chloe broke a window, and we were gone. I’d been the wildest I’d ever been, and perhaps the wildest I ever would be.
And then as we passed the library, I blacked out.
I’m not sure how much time had passed when I awoke, but the sun was filtering through the blinds, and Chloe was sat at the end of the bed looking concerned.
‘What happened?’ I groaned, trying to pull myself up from the mattress, but I seemed to be firmly stuck in place, my limbs refusing to work.
‘We made the front page of the papers, but not the news. I guess that’s something,’ she replied, as if commenting on the weather. A sickness bubbled away inside me, but I trusted Chloe. I knew she wouldn’t have gone along with the whole plan if she knew things would turn sour. I put my unconscious episode down to an overload of adrenaline, and went back to sleep. Balaclavas hide faces, gloves hide prints. No biggie.
I dreamt of prison.
‘It’s been two weeks since it all began. Residents in Oswaldtwistle woke up to find that the treasured pear drop had been vandalised to the point of no return. All that was left was sugary flakes, and the perpetrators have yet to be found. If anyone has any information, please contact the police. A great deal of harm has been done to the icon of Oswaldtwistle, and people are still mourning by placing pear drops by where the World’s Largest Pear Drop once was.’
I tried to flip the channel, but my arms were too stiff. I’d have asked Chloe, but I could barely speak. She said I had a glazed look in my eyes. We couldn’t decide what had happened to me, and it was too dangerous to go outside to see a doctor. For Lancashire had tumbled into chaos.
It was a misty morning about a week after the pear drop’s disappearance that things took a sweet toothed turn. An early morning factory worker was walking to work when he felt something hard hit his head. He passed it off as hail, despite it being July, and carried on walking for a short while. But another hard object hit, and another. He sighed and looked up to the sky. The last thing he saw was an avalanche of sarsaparilla drops tumbling from the sky. No one else witnessed the storm, and when the mist cleared, the morning commute saw a barrage of sweets, and a hand sticking out from within.
These hard boiled rain falls became a regular occurrence soon after, and an old war siren was set up to warn people back into their homes when the next storm hit. But they couldn’t hide from the sugar tainted water supply, nor could they avoid the sherbet sink holes which would form anywhere without prior warning. The unlucky few would simply sink into the sherbet as if it was quicksand, and most were too busy dealing with tooth decay to care about other people’s dismay.
As for myself, I was having my own tough time of it all inside. I wasn’t experiencing the troubles of the sugar crash outside, and I had a stockpile of water bottles, so the sugary tap water never passed my lips. Not that it mattered, for my body was stiff, my mouth was stuck, and my skin was turning pink and yellow. I looked like a sugar coated Two Face, and Chloe was at a loss for words. She simply sat and watched the news, never looking my way. Never asking if I was ok.
Then a few weeks later she was gone. I couldn’t offer that wild side when I was stuck in bed, leaving sugar everywhere whenever I shook. The world was falling apart, and she was eager to get out there, rather than nurse me to death. She was clearly sick of drip feeding me water and bread, I couldn’t even make her the cheese toasties she loved so much. And the last thing she said after licking my head, was ‘You’re simply too sweet, my love.’
Another month passed, and I spent my time watching the news until my electricity was cut off. As a living pear drop, I couldn’t maintain my job as a retailer assistant, and when Chloe was here she simply turned my manager away, telling them I was having a ‘Kafka’ episode. And the working world doesn’t have any time for that.
So I used all my energy to roll myself out of bed, and towards the door. I still had arms hanging from my lumpy hard boiled body, so I could drag myself across the carpet, though bits of dust stuck to my new skin. Unfortunately, after all the effort it took (twenty minutes or so), I couldn’t reach the door handle, for I wasn’t quite as tall as I once was. It seemed like I was doomed to turn sweet in my own home while the world fell to ruin outside, and for a moment I felt that might have been alright. After all, the news channel suggested the home was the safest place to be, lest a sherbet sink-hole strike, but I was craving an exit. Being alone has that kind of impact on you at times.
Thankfully the window was open at the other end of the room, and I decided to take my chances with the drop, It took more dragging, and even more effort to clamber up to the window sill, but it seemed like the right thing to do. I looked down below, and through my glazed eyes I could kind of see the ground. It was covered in millions, and then I rolled off the ledge to meet them. They didn’t blanket my fall.
I’m not sure how much time had passed when I came too, but I could see one of my arms, the pink one, lying a few feet in front, cracked and abandoned amongst the millions of millions. I couldn’t tell if my yellow arm was still intact, I couldn’t tell much at all. I was in pieces, and I felt it wouldn’t be long till my thoughts were lost along with my human body. Seeing your arm across the street does that to you, and I spent what I thought would be my final hours wondering if my wild adventure to lick the pear drop was worth it.
When the pack of dogs found me, I decided it wasn’t.
The pack had sticky hair and rotten teeth, and they quickly sniffed me out among all the other sugary treats which had laid ruin to my home town, and perhaps everywhere else.
As the dogs began to lick me, my life flashed before my eyes. It’s what people say happens, and I guess they were right. But I was kind of disappointed by what I saw. I had gone through life in the most standardised way possible, turning down many opportunities which could have been a little fun. Like throwing pebbles at old folks home windows with my friends as a child, or sneaking off to get drunk at seedy bars with the college crew. I didn’t even tape the new flatmate to the toilet at uni, though my flatmates certainly did that to me. It was a life that wouldn’t be a film, even one set straight for DVD.
Except for that one night with the pear drop. That one night was the only moment in my life that meant something, and I guess it did change the world, just for the worse, It made me feel like I was destined for normality, and going against it only led to someone’s angry hand pointing my way. Was it worth all the chaos? Whatever the answer, one of the dogs had made off with my yellow arm. And just as my face was about to be chewed apart, an angel covered in bubblegum drops ran forward and drop kicked the mutt.
I wanted to ask Chloe why she had come back for me, but I could no longer speak. Instead she talked as she walked, and I learnt so much about what had been happening, but little about herself. She told me how this sugar crash had spread as far as Blackpool, with the whole of Lancashire quarantined to keep it under control. Yet the gates were turning into liquorice, so many feared a country wide epidemic of dangerous sweets, obesity, rotting teeth and certain doom.
‘But it isn’t your fault,’ she said to me as we made it back to what looked like a run down Oswaldtwistle Mills. ‘The country was always going to end up like this anyway, with or without this sugar coated curse.’
She took me back to where the ‘World’s Largest Pear Drop’ once laid, and she placed me on the pedestal, then licked me one last time.
‘We may have broken up, but I wasn’t just going to leave you there, I know how it is, not turning into a pear drop, but being lost and alone in this cruel old world. That’s why I liked to go against it sometimes, and I guess it was a little wild when we broke on in. Others may blame you if they found out the truth, but I never will.
I found a book in the local library, it was stuck in the children’s fiction section, but when something like this happens, you’re going to believe anything. It turns out, this is the centre of the world, and the pear drop keeps everything in balance. You undid the curse, and so you must act as the replacement.’ I didn’t know what to say to all this, not that I could say anything anyway.
‘You’ll set soon, and everything will be as it once was. I’d lick you to take your place once that happens, but… I didn’t like you that much.’
And so Chloe vanished from my life once more, and the chaos subdued. People would continue to visit the ‘World’s Largest Pear Drop’ and as they did, I wish they’d grow eager for a taste. But no one was wild enough to try it.
Not like me, the wildest of them all. Its what I tell myself, anyway.