Ice Cream Dream, flash fiction by Colin Dardis
This memory keeps coming back to me, which gives me a daunting sense of guilt every time. I’m nine, maybe ten, and back at my childhood home in Omagh. My mother use to watch these two kids after school, until their parents could come and pick them up. One of them was a guy called Harrison, one of my closest friends through primary and secondary school, until I moved away to Cookstown. He was a car fanatic, and even at a young age, had more knowledge about motors and machinery than I will ever accumulate in my lifetime.
The other child was Jay, Harrison’s younger brother. I remember him as rather quiet; in fact both of them were in their own way. Yet they were always keen to play and mess about. And at times, and in quite a selfish way as children are capable of being, I resented their presence.
Occasionally, after school was over, I just wanted a bit of time alone: a moment to relax, contemplate the many musings of life children carry, or generally just sloth about the house: I didn’t realise back then that I had my whole teen years to do exactly that. Mostly, due to my mother’s inclination, we got on with whatever our homework assignments were. The majority of the time, things ran smoothly, and I was actually sorry to see them leave when their mum or dad came to collect them.
We use to play Ghostbusters, with these little backpacks I made out of old files, with discarded school ties for straps and odd hoses attached to wooden rulers for the ray-guns. For two weeks we would run around, blast our devices at the air, and imagine capturing whatever spectres haunted our back garden. However, I kept getting annoyed that the packs would be left outside after Harrison and Jay went home, and I would have to be the one to clean everything up. So I dismantled the backs and refused to continue the game.
At guilty as I feel about that now, this is not the memory that riles me so much. Instead, one time, the ice cream van came up around our park. Everyone, included my twin sister, wanted to get ice creams or lollies. My mum didn’t have enough money in her purse to get them, but I still had some of my pocket money left. I can’t remember the maths exactly, but mum reckoned I had enough to buy ice creams for everyone, but I had other ideas. I wanted a big 99 cone, with a chocolate flake, and the runny red syrup. So I went ahead and got one for myself. Just myself and no one else.
I don’t know why this one particular memory should recur in my mind over and over again. Yet it still fills me with a sense of unease, despite the time lapsed and the distance travelled. Greed stings. I’m no longer in touch with Harrison and Jay now, just a few half-hearted phone calls and e-mails over the years. Perhaps they don’t even remember this event. I hope not.
Colin Dardis is a poet, editor and freelance arts facilitator from Northern Ireland. A past recipient of the Artist Career Enhancement Scheme from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, his work has been widely published throughout Ireland, UK and USA. One of Eyewear Publishing’s Best New British and Irish Poets 2016, a collection with Eyewear, the x of y, is forthcoming in 2018. www.colindardispoet.co.uk www.poetryni.com
© Colin Dardis