01 Feb Everyone in Town Loves ‘Frockle’s Fantastic Sour Lime Caramels
I live in a really small town in the middle of nowhere called Hickling. Hickling is so small and boring that everything here comes in one’s. We have one cinema, one supermarket, one high school but most importantly one candy shop. The candy shop is run by an old gentleman named Maximilian Frockle. He is a sweet old man with grey hair, colorful clothes, and a fluffy beard. He looks nothing like his twin brother Maurice. Maurice Frockle is the town’s gynecologist. While he always wears the cleanest shoes, the nicest suits, and has his hair perfectly groomed and dyed in the color black, he is just as sweet as his brother.
The Frockle family moved to Hickling before my parents were even born. My grandpa once told me the story of their business. Maurice had just opened his doctor’s office and Maximilian bought one of the old buildings in town to start the very first and only candy shop. His high expectations quickly evaporated and hadn’t it been for his brother, he would have gone bankrupt right away. The candy Maximilian sold was very peculiar. Instead of the typical chocolate, fudge, and gummy bears, his candy had the weirdest shapes and colors. It was too eccentric for the old-fashioned town’s people of Hickling. They were not acquainted with these new tastes and Maximilian was lucky if one soul per month found its way to his shop.
For almost a year the shop was closed. Maximilian was experimenting with new combinations and finally presented something he was terrifically proud of. He named it Frockle’s fantastic sour lime caramels.
Unfortunately, those were a big bust as well. He tried everything he could, put up signs, was giving out free samples in front of the store but people seemed weirded out by it. As my grandpa said, they didn’t want to take some crazy kind of candy from these people who were strangers to the close-knit community of Hickling.
Luckily, Maurice was a lot more successful with his business. With the nearest hospital being about 2 hours away, soon every woman in town visited his office. The brothers were smart and came up with a strategy. They would give out free samples of the sour lime caramels to the pregnant women who were not as opposed to the peculiar flavors of the candy.
There are many studies demonstrating that a child can acquire a certain taste even before birth. When a mother eats a lot of a certain type of flavors during pregnancy, the child gets a similar tendency. It can work for spicy food, sweet treats, or in the case of the Frockle’s, sour lime caramels.
And boy did it work. Maximilian had to wait a while but as soon as the first children were born and grew older, they all seemed to crave the sour lime caramels. My grandma had been one of the women going to Maurice and my mother seemed to be completely obsessed with Frockle’s candy and especially the sour lime ones. When she was pregnant with me she was craving them more than ever, she told me on many occasions how I would always kick in her tummy when she had one of the caramels.
My grandparents passed away when I was only six but I always loved hearing the story about the Frockle’s brothers when my grandpa would tell it. He told me it took some time but soon the town changed into what it is now. A through and through happy place with the best damn candy in the world. Only one thing stayed exactly the same over time: everyone in Hickling loved the Frockle’s. The brothers became everyone’s best friends.
Well everyone in town is friends with each other anyway. That happens when you live in such a tiny place where everything is connected. All the kids go to the same school, a lot of neighbors work at the same places or go to the same clubs. Hardly anyone ever leaves the town and if they do, they never stay away longer than a weekend. I once asked my father why we never go on holidays, like the people in tv shows and he said
“Honey, those people go on vacation to escape from their lives for a little while. Why would we want to escape? We live in the most fantastic place on earth” He smiled when he said it but I swear I saw his eye twitch nervously.
He was right, I didn’t mind that we never left. I used to love the town when I was younger. My best friends Miles and Kristen lived on the same street and I spent almost every day with them. We were born in the same year and went to the same kindergarten, elementary-, middle- and high school, we grew up to become inseparable. I loved those two, especially as they were only children just like me. This town had most things a kid could wish for but I had always wanted a sibling.
A brother to be specific. And when I was nine, I almost got one. I was at the doctor’s office with my parents when Maurice Frockle gave my mum the wonderful news that she was pregnant. My mother broke down in tears on the spot.
“There, there. No reason for tears. Those are some wonderful news! A child is always a blessing.” Maximilian said while gentling squeezing my mother’s shoulder.
My mother pushed her teeth together and forced out a smile. “Sweetie, why don’t you wait outside and play with the toys?” she told me. Mr. Frockle gave me a piece of sour lime candy and pointed towards the door. I walked out but as the nosy little kid I was, I made sure to leave the door open just enough that I could hear what they said.
“This can’t be possible”
“Oh but it is! I hear a healthy heartbeat.. And look there, it’s a boy!
I had to really control myself not to jump up and down on the spot. I had always wanted a brother. Maurice started humming while he examined her further “I’m quite surprised that you didn’t notice yet”
“I.. I was sure I wasn’t able to birth any-”
“Well, then it is a true wonder child. How marvelous.”
I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation but I remember the last thing Maurice said to my mother as we were about to leave.
“A boy or a girl, what do you prefer?”
Back then I didn’t understand why he would ask that as he had already told her it would be a boy.
My mother didn’t stop crying and when she told my dad the great news, he did something I never saw him repeat again. He punched the wall so hard that his hand started bleeding. And then they both just cried. They sent me to my room but I heard them whisper all night long. I still don’t know exactly what they said but the next day they packed their bags and left for the weekend. It was the only time my parents ever went on vacation while I stayed at Kristen’s home.
When they came back from the weekend, mum wasn’t pregnant anymore.
I wanted to scream and shout. I had never felt this devastated before. Mum didn’t even look at me, she went straight to her room and I heard her cries through the walls. That’s when I calmed myself down. I didn’t understand everything that was going on back then but I hated seeing my mother hurt like that. She was usually such a cheerful person. Dad tried to keep up the happy attitude he always had, but I could see that he was struggling. When I asked for an explanation, he told me, “It’s something you can’t understand yet but just know that we would do anything to keep you safe. Your mother and I, we love you very much. And isn’t that enough? We are just happy to have our one precious child.”
Maurice and Maximilian Frockle paid us a visit the following day. Maximilian gave me a big bag of candy and my parents sent me outside to play with my friends. As I walked out I heard loud shouting and thumping coming from inside. I was just about to run back inside when the shouting turned to laughter. They sounded cheerful.
When I came back home in the afternoon my parents acted completely differently. They were happy, my mum was humming and making food, my dad was playing on the piano. He smiled when he saw me come inside. I wanted to ask them about the bruises they suddenly had on their arms and faces but they acted so strange that I was afraid to ask. And they seemed genuinely happy.
We never talked about the incident again and the topic of siblings had become a taboo in our house. None of my friends had brothers or sisters, it didn’t matter that I didn’t either.
Only as I grew older I started realizing that it wasn’t just my friends and I. Nobody in Hickling had siblings. The only ones that came as two were the Frockles.
When I was about fifteen, Miles, Kristen, and I started resenting the town more. We weren’t kids anymore and we wanted to see the world. Hickling had nothing to offer to us besides Frockle’s candy and we were awfully bored all the time. You can’t imagine how excited we were when a new family moved to our street. There were hardly ever any new people in Hickling and it was even stranger that there was an available house. Nobody ever moved away voluntarily.
We got even more curious when we saw that the new family had children. You read that right, plural.
We were just sitting in front of my home trying out our skateboards when we saw a boy outside of the house. He looked about our age.
“He’s cute. Let’s go and say hi.” Kristen jumped up from the curb.
“Are you sure? We don’t know them. My parents didn’t say anything about a new family-” I responded.
“Don’t be such a wuss, Sammie, finally something is happening.”
So the three of us walked over to see this new boy. He looked about our age, had blonde hair, and freckles all over his face.
After chatting with him for a while, we found out that his name was Charlie. He was fourteen and had a two-year-old sister.
“My uncle lived in this house. We came to visit a little while ago and since then my parents were obsessed with this town. I honestly don’t understand why. This place is so fucking weird” he said after we introduced ourselves.
“It is the most boring place on earth, the only good thing is Fro-”
“Let me guess. Frockle’s sour whatever caramel shit? Yeah, my parents talk about it all the time. My uncle did too” Charlie interrupted Kristen.
“Wait, is your uncle Jeremy Clerkins? I was already wondering why he’d move away, makes sense that you just moved in with him” I said.
“We’re not moving in with him, he died.”
The three of us didn’t respond. While it wasn’t unusual that people of Hickling would pass away out of nowhere, nobody ever talked about it as bluntly as this boy did. I was just about to say something when a woman walked outside with a little girl in her arms. The girl’s hair was just as blonde as Charlie’s and she held a little pink teddy bear in her hands.
“Oh look at that! You must be the neighbors! How lovely to meet you! See Charlie, there are kids just your age here!” His mum seemed just as cheerful as our parents. Charlie rolled his eyes.
“My husband and I were just gonna settle in and then come around and introduce ourselves to everyone here, but first we are awaiting two gentlemen. Charlie, will you go inside and help your dad?” She continued. She gave us a last smile and followed him into the house.
That afternoon I heard a lot of screaming and shouting coming from the house of the Clerkin’s. My parents acted like they didn’t hear any of it so I did the same. Later that night someone rang our door. It was the woman, Charlie’s mum, and a man who I imagine was his dad.
“Hello there, we just moved in on the opposite side of the street. I am Peter, this is my wife Helena. The Frockle’s paid us a visit already and gave us a big basket of that wonderful candy! We thought we’d share some of it with our lovely neighbors as well”
My mum was just about to say something but I interrupted her “Where are your kids?”
“Kids? We only have one child, sweetheart. He is a bit grumpy, hasn’t gotten used to the new house yet” She shot my mum a look who nodded understandingly.
“But what about the little girl?”
“Shush now, Sammie, don’t be so nosy.” My dad exclaimed.
The face of Mrs. Clerkins started twitching. Finally, she said “Why don’t you go over and say hi to Charlie? Maybe you can show him how wonderful life here actually is?” Her husband let out a loud sigh “We’ve tried everything, please. Maybe you can convince him?”
I walked over to the yellow house on the opposite side of the street. With a strange feeling in my gut, I rang the bell.
“Hello?” The door was open but the lights were off. I slowly walked inside the house. I’d never been inside the house of Mr. Clerkins but it looked pretty much like our home. I heard some noises coming from the living room. It sounded like whimpering. As I got closer I saw someone hunched down on the ground. It was Charlie.
He didn’t look at me, he just kept staring at something in his hands. It was a teddy bear. The one that the little girl had in her arms earlier but it was full of blood.
I walked over and reached inside my pocket to get out one of the little sweets.
“I’m sorry” I whispered. “Try this, it will make things a bit better. I promise”
His tear-filled eyes met mine for a moment before he accepted the Frockle’s fantastic sour lime caramel.
Of course, I always knew that Hickling wasn’t a normal town. Nobody from the outside ever came to visit. The ones that did would never leave again. Children disappeared all the time. Buildings randomly burned down. I could swear that once an entire street simply disappeared including everyone that lived there. But nobody here cared about the irregularities. We were happy here.
And life here can be good. We have everything we need. We always get the most incredible candy. I don’t think I could ever live at a place without Frockle’s fantastic sour lime caramel.
I grew up never leaving town and got married to the best person I could ever imagine. We have our one home, one car, and one life together.
We are happy, we have everything that we need.
Maurice was incredibly kind yesterday when I went to his office, he even gave me a free bag of candy but for some reason, I can’t be happy about the good news. Not since I’ve found out that I’m expecting twins.