How to Eat Dark Chocolate: A Lesson in Living

"Did you know," my friend says, handing me a square of dark chocolate, "there is a special way to eat dark chocolate?"

I hold the thin wafer between my fingers, feel the sticky slickness where it has begun to melt in the warmth of my fingertips.

"You're supposed to smell it first, and then, before you chew, let it rest on your tongue until it's just slightly melted."

I raise the chocolate to my nose, take a deep breath, set it delicately on my tongue, close my mouth.

"Dada," Marie says to my mom one day. "Do you know Mommy says we are moving? Maybe we are moving closer to you and Bumpa." She is hopeful, almost certain.

My mom doesn't have it in her to tell Marie that California is not closer to her and Bumpa, that it is an entire continent away. That forests and plains and mountains will span the great gap between them. 

I inhale again, through my nose, letting the first bitter assault of the chocolate spread across my tongue, press it against the roof of my mouth.

Marie and I stand in a Chick-Fil-A parking lot. I have taken the day off work to see her as Mary in her preschool Christmas play. She doesn't want our day together to end. She hugs me tightly, whispers into my hair, "Aunt Amanda, I want to stay with you always."

I clamp my eyes against tears and say with a smile, "I want to stay with you always, too, Marie." I squeeze her slight frame. She's smaller than most of the kids in her class, but her heart is the biggest.

When the chocolate is supple and pliant, I shift it to my teeth, press down gently, taste the sweetness spilling forth as the square gives way to the press of my bite.

It is time for Marie to go home for the day. She wraps her arms around my dad's neck and protests. "I want to stay with you, Bumpa," she says. My dad begins to cry. Marie begins to cry.

She cannot stay.

The sweetness on my tongue blends with bitter undertones, the flavors distinct, but inseparable. And I realize what I am really tasting: life.

 

Chester, VA USA. Amanda Sue Creasey is married with dogs, teaches high school English, and loves to write. When she isn't teaching, walking her dogs, or running, you can find her freelance writing or spending time with family and friends. Find her online at AmandaSueCreasey.com.