“Shiny Shiny,” a Flavor Town USA short story by Mollie Schofer

 

WHEN YOU LIVE IN A forest, there isn’t much to do but lie on your side and eat the open oysters offered to you by woodland sprites.
(Open oysters are open like two palms cupping a skein of fresh-molted salamander skin.)
Sometimes, of course, the woodland sprites are in a mischievous mood. They dust the open oysters with the pixie moss that falls from the spaces between their fingers. And when you live in a forest, there isn’t much to do but eat the open oysters garnished with mischievous pixie moss.
(Mischievous pixie moss is created from the spaces between woodland sprite fingers the same way silk is created from the abdomen of a mothering spider.)
Many things can come of eating open oysters contaminated with pixie moss. The most obvious being an unparalleled hunger for the flesh of the rare and elusive Alpine Strawberry, named so because alpines do not exist within forests, just as the Alpine Strawberry does not exist at all.
(Though if it did exist, it would taste like tannin on top of tannin and fatty-fatty cantaloupe.)
Those afflicted with pixie-moss-mania spend their lives on futile quests, searching for something they will never find. Other creatures of the forest have since capitalized on the every-so-often appearance of a wandering Strawberry-seeker. Some, like the Bog Beast, subsist entirely off of leading the Strawberry-starved to their demise.
(Bog Beasts are as big as rivers and just as impatient.)
The Bog Beast, in particular, poses a problem for pixie moss ingestees. Their bulbous red noses look almost like Strawberries, and they smell just like pine trees and snow. Many an unfortunate Strawberry-soul finds their end in a Bog Beast bog.
(To the Bog Beast, eating the essence of a forest-dweller losing their grip on Strawberry-sanity is like sipping steam off of a cold lake, or halving a ripe apricot.)
Nothing angers a woodland sprite like a Bog Beast eating off their entertainment, and thus the lives of pixie-moss-munchers remain a point of contention between the two creatures. Mischief cannot be realized when one’s source of amusement has been chomped up and digested, yet the Bog Beast can chomp up nothing else.
(The mischievous manner of a woodland sprite can be compared to the mischievous manner of an aphid straining sap from the stem of a flower bud.)
An unsteady truce between the woodland sprites and the Bog Beasts keeps both beings reluctantly complacent. Woodland sprites allow a portion of their prey to wander off into the bogs that dot the forest, while Bog Beasts otherwise refrain from infringing on areas of woodland sprite amusement.
(The amusement of a woodland sprite can be compared to the amusement of the wind as it rends aphids from the stems of flower buds.)
Of course, word gets around to those that live in the forest. They are warned that eating open oysters, especially those offered up by woodland sprites, will lead to death and despair.
But when you live in a forest, and the only other thing to do is lie on your side, you’re not going to turn down some open oysters just because you’re a little scared of some death and despair.

Mollie Schofer is a young writer from Southern California. Their poetry was most recently published in Inkblot Magazine and Orange Cat Review. They are currently a student of creative writing at Orange County School of the Arts.

Image: pinterest.com

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