The Ice Cherry


**A reader commented that a holiday story should have redemptive value, in the spirit of the season, and that, perhaps I fail to tap into that delirious, all-consuming happiness that each and every one of us must feel during the long, cold winter months. Of course, it could be that redemption—good or ill—is in the iris of the beholder.

--Indeed, this story is all about Redemption. Here's to your 'Happily Ever-After'. Merry Holidays, Literoticans.**

My father once said, 'Christmas is a time of giving. And if you have a gift, give greedily.'


I love the town I come from. People are nice and all the kids get along. Well, Mercy Carter is a bitch. She pretended to be my friend for most of high school, but I've since seen her true side. She's nice to your face, but she'll stab a girl in the back. I'm not saying she even knows better. I mean, it's not like she's malicious on purpose. She just has a very low self-esteem. Plus, I mean, I think she was dropped on her egg-head as a child.

We're all so excited because it's senior year, and winter break is almost here. I don't think much about the future. Or try not to. We've only a half-year left before school's out forever. And maybe I'm the only one, but I want to stay here.

Everybody calls me Cherry. It's been my nickname for as long as I can remember. Guess 'cause I've always had these really red lips. A little cherry lip gloss on top and it's out of control. My mother's friends used to say I must sneak out to the garden and suck beets to tempt the boys, but nope. Always had me these red lips. What can I say?

It's funny to think about. I haven't been home in almost three weeks. Time's been such a blur. We're just having so much fun with a long vacation right around the corner. Did I mention, we're all getting ready to graduate soon? Eighteen and unleashed on the world—look out!

It's been crazy lately. So many parties. Many of my friends have beautiful homes, and their parents almost never seem to be home—time shares in sunny off-map destinations, you know? Guess they don't really care. I'd so love that. If my parents were never home, I could see myself as quite the socialite. Well, not my mom. She's cool, I guess.

My best friend, Amber Riddle, was having a party last night. Berkley Thomas was there. He's a year younger than us, but my God, he's so adorable and funny, so we let him hang out. Anyway, Berkley followed me to the garage where Amber's father keeps a refrigerator loaded with beer. I know Berkley likes me. He's practically asked me to run away with him a half dozen times.

Berkley was telling me about his dad's cabin at Tahoe. He wanted to take me when the family went on vacation. I thought it sounded cool—I'm not really into him—but what girl would pass up a chance to vacay in Tahoe? Can you even envision the jealousy of the other girls?

He touched me when I opened the refrigerator. Actually, it was so sweet. I could tell he was nervous. His hand just brushed my back, and I had to blush when he put his arm around my waist.

"Cherry, you're so…sexy," he said, like trying the word on in his head before it spilled from his lips.

Boys will say that stuff a lot, but Berkley—you know, he's so shy anyway—made it sound sincere. Still, I didn't want to lead him on. Younger men are so impressionable. Plus, my girlfriends are always talking about how I lead a boy on, even when I know it'll never go anywhere. I've really been working on that. Kind of hard though, when you're a compulsive flirt.

"I'm what?" I said, not looking at him, pretending instead to search for something in the fridge.

"Sexy. I said you're so sexy." It was sweet the way he almost stuttered. His hand felt sort of good the way it caressed my back. Because I hadn't stopped him, he seemed to gain courage. I stood up and he was close. I found my cherry lip gloss and looked into his big brown eyes as I put some on. He wore a silly half-grin.

"You think I'm sexy?" I said, smacking my lips to spread the lip gloss evenly.


"That's nice." I brushed past him and returned to the party.

You see, I'm making strides. In the real world, you can't just go around leading men on. Okay, so I could have shown him a firmer hand, but how could I simply say, 'Berkley, you've got no chance'? It's maybe a little conceited, but boys aren't so bright. If I said that outright he'd go saying such sweet things to some other girl.

I've known Dillon Esther for-EVER. He's a hottie. My girlfriend Katie has had him. She said he has a really big dick, and because Katie talks so much, Dillon has been fortunate enough to enjoy a surge in popularity at school. In high school, it's like all the silly stuff matters, maybe because the important stuff is boring. I mean, how many people know what Dillon's grade-point average is—2.4—but yeah, hung like a stud. Enough said, right?

Anyhow, Dillon had been doing me this favor. To appease my mom, I joined the Tree Club at school. Granted, that's not exactly what my mom said. She said, "Just do something worthwhile so your father doesn't kill you!" We all live in a very earth-conscientious town, and so I guess it's only right I do my part.

Last year after snowmelt, we experienced terrible flooding and erosion down along the riverbanks. When I saw what had happened to the natural banks at the historic Riverside Park, where enormous cottonwood trees were uprooted and washed away in a matter of hours, I knew I couldn't sit idle. Um, to be perfectly honest, I sort of came up with it on short notice.

I'd not gone to the Tree Club meetings for nearly two weeks straight, and when finally I showed it was Final Project time. We'd been out drinking along the river banks the night before when Jason, I think it was, mentioned something about how the trees and the park were where some of his favorite memories as a kid had been born.


"Man, it's just sad is all I'm saying. I was the only kid with the balls to jump out of that tree into the river. What's going to be my legacy?"

Jason, drunk as sin, always said crazy stuff like that. We were all standing around a huge bonfire, listening to music and drinking. All the boys had brought their trucks, backed them to the fire and dropped the tailgates. The couples among us had made up the truck beds with mattresses and blankets. The drunker everybody got, the more courageous. I could hear Francine and her boyfriend, Scott—the tallest guy in school—moving around. His feet were poking out, and it was disturbing.

I moved to the other side of the fire, closer to the stereo. That's the worst, when you have to go to school the next day and see a couple, practically draped on one another, and your imagination virtually burns some supposed image of them getting freaky onto your mind. Well, you can't hardly look at them, can you?

From the woods at the park's edge, we all turned to take in the roaring belly-laugh of Randy Carson. He raced out of darkness into the firelight, dressed in full Santa garb and crashing into the side of Jason's pickup.

"Hey, fucker," Jason said. "Watch it."

Randy had a bag slung over his shoulder. He was silly-drunk. When he'd gotten his pants hiked up, he turned and crumbled to his knees beside Jason. Thrusting his big red bag open, he howled and shouted,

"Ho-ho-ho, mother fucker." Candy rained down from his hand onto Jason's head. Before his holiday sugar shower victim could even fuss, Randy was up and racing to and fro, thrusting candy into everyone's hands. Everyone started cracking up, even the couples in the pickups had stopped what they were doing to watch. Approaching me, he giggled in a rough voice,

"Ms. Cherry Langton, I have a special gift for you." I rolled my eyes as he dug around in his bag. "Aw, c'mon," he muttered, breaking character, "where the fuck…ah!" He drew out a long candy cane—my favorite holiday treat! It looked more like a striped tree branch, the thing was so big. He put it in my hand.

"Thank you," I said with a wink.

"Cherry-flavored," he growled. He took two steps before turning. "And um, if you can get your mouth over that, you and me can be friends."

The boys burst out laughing, but us girls didn't take shit. After I threw the first snowball that caught Randy squarely in the chin, the park became a blizzard. The bonfire hissed and sizzled as the twenty-or-so of us chased each other around, flinging snowballs. I was a little underdressed for the occasion, so I ducked down beside Randy's truck when no one was looking.

I opened the door and slipped into the backseat where I could wait the melee out. Judging by the screams and yells, the party was still going strong some ten minutes later, when I realized I'd misplaced my candy cane. As I turned around, I spotted it on the edge of the truck. That's when I caught sight of Randy's girlfriend, Kayli, through the back window. She was hunkered down beneath his big thick quilts. And what's more, Jason had taken refuge with her.

The firelight cast them in a spooky glow, and I saw her push him back when he'd kissed her. But then, just like that, she was literally crawling on top of him. My eyes went wide—Randy was like the school's best wrestler, and a killer of anybody who even looked at his girlfriend.

She and Jason were getting serious when he flipped her onto her back and the covers fell off long enough for me to see that she'd already shimmied out of her jeans. Her panties were down over her hips and Jason kissed her stomach, dropped his head and jabbed his tongue between her legs. Kayli's head fell back and she opened her mouth in a silent gasp. I saw her eyes focus, as she caught sight of something on the edge of the truck.

Reaching out, she grabbed my candy cane and took it. I was just about to bang on the window when Jason looked up. Kayli handed him the plastic-covered sugar wand and my jaw came unhinged. I saw it all in his grin. I slapped a hand over my eyes just as he lined the end of my, my, my candy cane up with Kayli's vagina. I couldn't help but split a finger and peek through my hand…it was like watching a gory car accident. And just like that, her sheath swallowed it inch by inch.

Jason reached up to grasp Kayli's breast, while at the same time he'd begun to fuck her in earnest with the red and white striped sugar cane. Jason got up on his knees for leverage, and Kayli reached down to unfasten his jeans. She reached in and pulled his cock from his whitey tighties, and began to jerk it insistently. Jason used one hand to plumb her hole with the candy cane, and the other to bat her hand away. He threw his head back and jerked himself hard.

Just then I saw his teeth grit, could even hear the groan over the music and through the window, as a huge white blast of semen unloaded from his angry cock. I saw Kayli jerk as the first spurt caught her right beneath the nose, the next and third spilling down upon the dark hair over her pussy.

"Yee-ha!" came the screech of Randy from somewhere in the distance. That was enough for Jason. He threw back the covers, and leapt over the side of the pickup. Before I looked down, I'd frozen that image in my mind. Jason had the most sinister grin on his face, his hair wild, his cheeks flushed; he looked at me and winked. His limp cock hung just over his underwear, and in a flash, he'd disappeared into the night.

Kayli lay in temporary shock—a giant white stick protruding from her vagina, a white spattered thatch and a man milk-stache. Served her right!


"Cherry?" said the teacher. "Are you daydreaming again? I need you to submit your plan for Final Project."

I fumbled. "Uh…" I glanced over at Jason. His head was down on his desk. I smiled. "I'm going to restore Riverside Park, starting with the cottonwood trees that were eroded and taken away in the flood."

It turned out to be a good idea. At least, she thought so. I embellished somewhat, telling her it was me who used to climb those trees, that the pangs of loss were mine, too. Whatever, I got my cut of the school's Tree Club funds, and when it came down to it, the credit was all that mattered. I mean, who was I to say what Mother Nature's plan had been when she uprooted some kids' fond memories and wiped them off the map? Seriously.

Tree Club might sound stupid, but it's actually got all sorts of accreditations all over the state. So, in the incredibly rare event I did decide to attend college next year, like as a last-minute escape plan, it might look good on my resume.

They told me it was silly to try and dig such big holes. Even my teacher suggested I think smaller. What kind of teacher encourages that? She said I should just dig little holes, plant little trees and wait for them to mature. Well, sure, I could do that, but the bigger the hole, the greater the capacity, the less waiting endured by all. It's the least I could do to restore the harmony of our fine little village.

Yes, but Tree Club doesn't have the funds to replant fully matured cottonwood trees…She was really trying to blackball me, that Mrs. Canter. Until, of course, I mentioned how my father would cover the gap.

My dad worked as a real estate agent—used to be the town's only licensed agent. Anybody who sold a home went through my father. The raw land stuff, he said, was for developers and land rapists. He let the out-of-town big shots handle that stuff. Most people assumed we were rich, but my dad doesn't really handle money that well. Most of what we got came from relatives who played out successful ventures on the stock market.

Things were really shook up when Martin S. Calhoun—a Phoenix real estate lawyer—chose our little town in which to retire. Mr. Calhoun built an enormous house on a piece of property that used to be a pecan orchard, right up the street from us. According to the gossip page of the local paper, he and his wife planned to live out their days gardening, wood-working, investing in local charity, writing, painting, attending local sporting events, fishing the Verde River, hosting socials, picnicking, camping, sleeping in, going to bed late or whenever the urge took them, taking long walks by the river, and so forth.

As luck would have it, Martin S. Calhoun—something of a Phoenix area icon—got a little nervous when the real estate market stagnated, and then the bubble burst. Supposedly, he saw how underrepresented the raw land market was in our area. He'd decided to take that up as a long-term investment plan. And as for the residential market, he'd scoop that up as a hobby. My father had not received a new listing in almost ten months. Bummer.


Katie's mom has started to look at me weird. So what if I was borrowing Katie's clothes lately. It wasn't like we hadn't done that since we were toddlers. Besides, her blood red skirt and white halter top looked hot on me. They fit—if not a little snugly—absolutely ideal.

We didn't even have time for breakfast. Katie grabbed a bagel and we shared it. I'm embarrassed to say, I wolfed my half down. Luckily, she wasn't very hungry, so I ate her half too. The two of us had such plans for the day. Her parents had made the impulsive decision to go to a retreat for winter vacation. We'd just found out and had so little time to plan the biggest end-of-the-year party ever. School got out at eleven for seniors, then Katie was headed for Prescott to get her hair done. Me, I would just throw my hair up and fill it with bobby-pins like usual. Boys love punk.

I had my own load for the day. Tree Club projects were due in a week. There was even talk of holding the homecoming dance on the stage at Riverside Park, not far from where I'd proposed my reforestation plan. Suddenly, putting a few trees in the ground became a major to-do for one Cherry Langton.

Which brings me all the way back to Dillon Ester's favor. He met me by the riverbank that sunny afternoon.

"So," I said, "That's all you have to do."

He didn't say anything for a while. Just leaned on the shovel we'd borrowed from Mr. Calhoun's place, a hop, skip and a jump up the river path. Such a friendly fellow, that Mr. Calhoun. Dillon was staring into the river, his eyes lost to the icy current that always seemed to move with such ambition.

Speaking of which, "Dillon," I laughed. "They're not going to dig themselves."

"Jesus, Cherry," he said, once he'd cleared the snow away and reached the frozen dirt. "You sure they have to be so big?"

"Uh-huh," I said, for the umpteenth time. "But don't worry, the soil is really soft once you break through. It shouldn't take long. And you've got me to keep you company. For a while, at least."

"I guess that's true," he said, and resignedly stepped forward to take his start.

I'll say one thing, if you've never seen a big strong football-playing boy with a shovel and an aim to please, it's an image I suggest you manufacture. All you need is the right boy, the right tools—not the shovel, of course, I'm talking about a low-cut halter top, a jacket zipped down ever so much to give the girls some sun, yes—throw your gaze into the meandering river while the sun plays off your chest. Look out, China, the boy is going to dig.

In no time, Dillon was up to his waist in thick red river dirt. Or rather, it had seemed like no time. In actuality, as I check the time on my phone, I saw that entirely too much time had lapsed. I had to get back to town to meet my uncle, William. He was buying our beer!

"Oh!" I said.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I've got to get to the Pack Saddle by two. Beer!"

"Oh," said Dillon.

Now, I'm not shallow. I could plainly sense Dillon's melancholy. He'd been burning a little candle for me ever since he used to mow our lawn. He'd seen something. Something neither of us had ever breathed a word about, but which made him cumbersome and awkward.

"Dill," I said, stepping to the edge of the hole. I let my long jacket open slightly. If he couldn't see up my skirt, he needed an optometrist. I know what you're thinking. So completely immature and gross. Leading a boy on, right? Just like I'd promised myself not to do. Okay, I'll admit it. But allow me a quick justification. I'd completely put off the Tree Club hole-digging until there was absolutely no way for me to accomplish it alone. You could say the only resource I had left was my ability to inspire compliance through yearning, or something to that effect. "I can't believe how fast you are."

He was blushing. I love a boy with pale cheeks. They betray that special little soul-glow like nothing else. I remember the first time Dillon got laid. We had all seen him at the football game with a girl, a girl who attended another school, no less—very exotic. Everybody badgered him for information, but he wouldn't budge. I walked right up to him and asked outright, "How was she?" Oh, the color of red. He nearly made my lips jealous! Too easy.

I swished my hips. "Dillon," I said as he ogled me from the hole. "You dog. Your girlfriend would be so upset."

"Cherry, what? I'm not seeing her anymore." A fact to which I was already privy, but would act utterly surprised to hear.

"What? But I could have sworn…the girl from…"

"That was over after two weeks," he said quickly.

"Oh my God," I said, glowing. "I can't believe it."

"Believe what?"

"Oh, nothing. Listen, honey, you're going to be at the party tonight, right?"

"Uh, yeah. Of course."

I grinned. That's all he needed. Nothing more should be said, so I spun on my heels and walked away.

A hole. Six feet deep, four feet wide. Sounds rather excessive, doesn't it? I know. I had six of them to get dug. That's how many trees were lost—an unhappy swath of divine erosion, and a half dozen vanished, majestic cottonwood trees. Granted, no tractor in the world has the power to replace a fully mature cottonwood tree. They're massive things. So beautiful with their low-hanging branches, thick trunks and broad leaves. There is scarcely a better shade tree in all the country. My opinion, of course.

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