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Sweet Tooth

On a Summer Night in 2018 

“Nicks, can I have another one?” 

“I don’t know, little one,” Nickole “Nicks” James, the babysitter, replied. “It’s getting late and your parents won’t be too happy if you end up with another sweet tooth.” 

The innocent blue eyes suddenly became sheepish. “You know about that?” “Let’s put it this way,” She returned to the living room and sat back on the couch, folding her arms across her chest languidly. “I know about a lot of things I’d prefer not to know about.” “What kind of things?” inquired the little girl. 

Adult things, Sammy. When you’re older, your parents can tell you.” Nicks answered. Sammy pouted. “I wish I was an adult.” She remarked, crossing her arms as she stood across from the couch. 

Nicks snorted. “Take that back, kid. You don’t want to be an adult, trust me. It’s not as great as it sounds.” 

“You’re lying.” 

“I don’t lie.” 

Sammy relented. She walked over to the couch and sat beside Nicks. “Can I tell you something?” 

“What’s that?” Nicks hoped her enthusiasm was enough. The two cups of coffee she had weren’t doing their diligence, and she was already losing energy. It was precisely ten thirty and Sammy’s parents weren’t scheduled to return until ten past midnight. Granted, that estimate was without traffic, so Nicks was prepared to stay longer. She wanted to complain and rant to herself about it, but she couldn’t bring herself to. 

The Arthur family, Jillian and Charles, were generous people. She really couldn’t have asked for better employers, especially in the babysitting industry. They were understanding, consistent, and patient, and they paid her a pretty penny to watch their daughter, which was frequent since they preferred to attend social gatherings rather than spend time at home. 

Sammy sighed, then spoke. “I wish you were my mommy.” 

Nicks sighed too. Though she was grateful for her experience and paychecks from the Arthurs, she had a distinctive frustration with them as well, and it was because of their inability to parent Sammy. She was the invisible child and that shattered Nicks’ heart. She remembered being in that position with her own family, and that was why she moved out abruptly after her uncelebrated eighteenth birthday. She roamed the naked streets of the valley lonesome, until she found the home of the Arthurs through a social media advertisement that her lover, Kola, showed her. She was taken in, paid well, and developed an unexpected emotional connection to Sammy, the five year old child she babysat. 

“Your mommy loves you.” Nicks tried to believe her own words and there was a guilt she felt when she uttered them. “She’s just been… Busy.” 

“She didn’t want me.” Sammy muttered. 

“That’s not true.” Nicks said. 

“I know it is.” Sammy insisted. “I heard my mommy tell my daddy one day. I was supposed to be in bed but I had bad dreams. I went potty and heard them talking.” 

Nicks shut her eyes momentarily, trying to block out her own emotions. She refused to let them be projected on Sammy. She offered her a small smile and opened her arms. Sammy’s frown lightened and she found refuge in Nicks’ arms. They embraced for a few moments, until Sammy looked back up. “If you can’t be my mommy, can you be my best friend?” 

Nicks raised an eyebrow. “I thought I was already your best friend.” 

Sammy chuckled. “I was just making sure.” 

“Mhm,” Nicks scanned the clock that was above the tv – the thick black arrows announcing that it was ten thirty-eight. “Okay, Sammy, you won’t be too happy about this, but it’s time for bed. It’s getting late and you have school tomorrow.” 

As anticipated, Sammy pouted. “I’m not tired!” 

Nicks smiled. “I promise, you’ll fall asleep instantly. I can even read you a story.” Sammy evidently wasn’t pleased, but she surrendered. “Fine.” 

Nicks nodded. “Go brush your teeth and get settled. Call me when you're ready.” “Kay!” 

Sammy zoomed up the staircase and her heavy footsteps evoked a chuckle from Nicks. The child had the energy she wished she had. “What I’d do to be young again.” She mumbled. She stood up from the couch after a few seconds, then walked into the kitchen and retrieved her cellphone from the charging outlets by the furthest marble counter. She scrolled through her vacant instagram feed. Bored by the redundant posts, she went to her contact list and dialed Kola. An answer came shortly. 

“Hey babe.” 

“Hey,” Kola sounded exhausted. “How’s the job?” 

“It’s going, that’s for sure. Sammy is on her way to having another sweet tooth.” Nicks leaned against the counter. 

“Oh lord,” Kola chuckled. “Is she fighting her sleep?” 

“She tried to but relented. She’s getting ready for bed right now.”

“What time are the parents supposed to be back?” 

Nicks rubbed her eye. “They said ten after midnight, but you know how they are. I’m prepared to stay the night if I have to. Jillian told me over the phone this morning that the guest room is ready.” 

“You know, I like that they treat you good but… I feel bad for the kid.” Kola said. “That makes two of us,” agreed Nicks. “She told me literally minutes ago that she wishes I was her mommy and that she overheard her folks talking… Christ, that little girl shouldn’t have had to hear what Jillian said.” 

“What’d she say?” Kola asked, carefully. 

Nicks sighed. “Sammy said that Jillian was telling Charles that she never wanted her.” Kola sighed. “That’s unbelievably fucked.” 

“Who are you telling?” said Nicks. “I wish we could take her in. I have the money for it, but I know the courts wouldn’t let me have her. Compared to her parents, I'm jack squat.” “That’s not true, Nickole.” Kola said. “You are the mother to that child. It’s just a shitty situation.” 

“Yeah… I-” 

“I’m ready for bed!” 

Nicks chuckled. “Sammy just told me that she’s ready for bed.” 

“I heard,” chortled Kola. “I’ll let you get to that. Call me later to let me know if you’re coming home or not.” 

“I will, Kola. I love you.” Nicks said. 

“I love you too.” Kola replied.

The call ended seconds later. Nicks set her phone in the back pocket of her jeans, going upstairs to fulfill her promise to Sammy. She stepped into the vivid room of brightness, then picked out a book from the pink shelf. “All tucked in?” 

Sammy nodded. It was apparent that she was trying to conceal her tired eyes. They were open wider than usual. Nicks kept that observation to herself. “Alrighty then,” She sat on the side of the bed, opening the book. She had picked out Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault. “Are you ready?” 

Sammy nodded again, unintentionally exposing more of her exhaustion with her sleepy eyes. Nicks held back her laughter. She turned the first page and began reading. By the time she reached the second page, she heard little snores between the pauses of her narration. She stopped, looking up. She smiled at the sight of sammy sleeping. 

“I knew she was tired.” Nicks shut the book with a chuckle. She quietly got up, returned the book to its respective place on the shelf, and closed the door partially upon her exit. She went back downstairs and went into the kitchen. 

She poured herself a glass of Jillian’s homemade lemonade and decided to take five minutes to relax; no homework, no phone calls, no need to supervise anything or anyone. Five minutes to just breathe and unleash her stress. 

While she did this though, she felt her stomach yearning for more sugar. Particularly, the chocolates Jillian made. Jillian was an excellent chef. It was just a shame that her presence was seldom in the kitchen due to her frequent outings with Charles. “I guess I have a sweet tooth as well.” 

She got off the chair and opened the gray, stainless steel refrigerator. The cherry red tray of chocolates were before her eyes, greeting her. She noticed one was already missing and she concluded that Sammy must’ve snuck one out to eat in her room. Perhaps that’s why she fell asleep easily, Nicks concluded. Her sweet tooth was activated quickly and robbed her energy. “That kid is clever.” Nicks smiled. “Well, I don’t mind if I do.” 

She grabbed a chocolate and popped it in her mouth. But once her teeth broke through the first layer of chocolate, she felt her eyes widening. She realized at that moment if she was having a reaction, then Sammy must’ve had one too. She took two steps away from the refrigerator. But when she went to grip the edge of the counter for support, her body became like a feather in the air. “Sammy-” 

She fell on the floor and caught a glance at the blinking light. Seconds later, her eyes closed. Then, she flatlined. 

Around one thirty in the morning, the Arthurs returned home. Jillian walked in first and the moment she saw Nicks’ few belongings on the couch accompanied with silence, she turned around and smiled at a curious Charles. Charles sighed in relief. 

“Check Sammy's room to make sure.” Jillian instructed. “I’ll check the kitchen.” Charles went upstairs and Jillian stepped into the kitchen, her black prada high heels clicking against the tiles. Once she saw the familiar brunette waves of hair poking out from behind the counter, she smiled. She stepped over to the body of her employee, grinning. She bent down at a precise angle to avoid any creases in her red dress, then checked Nicks’ pulse. When none was detected, her grin widened. “Apologies, Nicks. You were a good kid.” 

Charles came in seconds later, a smile painting his face. “Sammy’s dead.” 

“As is Nicks.” Jillian flattened out the dress, matching her husband’s smile. 

“We’re finally free.” Charles went over to her, wrapping his arms around her waist. Jillian kissed him. “It looks like the sweet tooth those two had finally paid off.”

Charles nodded. “You’re brilliant, honey.” She smirked. “I know.”

M.S. Blues is an 18 year old multiracial, queer, and versatile writer who has been writing since the age of seven. Her work revolves around the darker pieces of humanity society tends to neglect. She has been abundantly published by many literary magazines and currently serves as an editor to The Amazine, Adolescence Magazine, The Elysian Chronicles, and Hyacinthus Zine. Her Instagram handle is @m.s.blues_
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