We asked you to finish this story:
Chicken Soup Ice Cream
She met him at an international student exchange.
He was German—not her first choice. But he was dark and subdued, unlike the Brazilians who talked too much and ran their eyes over every woman in the room.
“Hello. I’m Sharon,” she said.
He stood up. “My name is Hans.”
They drank plastic cups of fruit punch and communicated in simple English phrases until it was time to go, and then Hans grew agitated.
“Will you … can I … “ he began, fighting the language.
“All right,” Sharon said.
She wanted to see a movie but his English wasn’t good enough.
They went for ice cream instead.
“In Germany,” he said, “We have an ice cream shop that sells every flavor in the world … even chicken soup ice cream.”
187 entries were received! Winners were selected by John Givens.
Contest Judge John Givens teaches fiction writing workshops in Dublin. He got his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, studied art and language in Kyoto and worked in Tokyo as a writer and editor. Givens has published three novels in the United States and a collection of short stories in Ireland. His stories have appeared in literary journals in the US, Asia and Europe.
FIRST PRIZE (20 euro): Chris Minton
SECOND PRIZE (10 euro): Kate Raynes
THIRD PRIZE (5 euro): Petra McQueen
Shortlist (15 Endings)
In Alphabetical Order by Author Name
By Lindsay Goldman
She nodded, wishing she was with someone who was not excited by things like chicken soup ice cream. First things first—she couldn’t start her trip with an outstanding debt threatening to ruin her summer at any moment. Annoyed, she tossed both ice creams and threw them in the trash, grabbing Hans’ meaty hand and towing him behind her through the maze of alleys.
“Where do you … take me?” Hans asked hesitantly, though she didn’t know if he’d picked up on her mood or if his English was just that bad.
“Right here!” she said, stopping in front of a garage door. She tapped her knuckles on the door in quick succession, and it opened. She grabbed Hans’ face and kissed him, and when he kissed her back she shoved him, hard, into the empty black space.
The last thing he heard before everything went black was “Julio! Here’s the kidney I promised you. Remove it yourself. Consider my debt paid.” The door slammed shut.
She paused as she tried to interpret his tone, his meaning, sensing the writing was on the wall.
In any language, she knew from her studies, chicken soup is good for the soul. She reminded herself however that wholesomeness can often be lost in translation.
It was fortunate that she was fluent in the universal language of ice cream. Vanilla might be her best idiom. And hold the extraneous sprinkles.
The words were on the tip of her tongue when his silence suddenly spoke more clearly to her than any further conversation.
She looked up at him with a sly smile, licked her lips, and ordered two scoops of Rocky Road.
By Cate Lloyd
Sharon licked her spoon, trying to imagine the taste.
These were two things that she loved; serious comfort foods.
Last July, after Luke had dumped her, she’d needed both.
She remembered the Saturday evening two weeks after he’d gone. She’d settled in for a ‘True Blood’ marathon, trying to salve her curetted heart with vicarious sex and bowls of steaming, creamy soup.
Long after midnight, the ragged sobs finally subsiding, she’d taken the carton from the freezer and spooned silky vanilla into her mouth until there had been no more to eat.
Could chicken soup ice cream ever offer the same level of comfort?
Hans watched Sharon run her tongue slowly along the length of the sundae spoon.
It was Quatsch, naturally. In what shop would chicken soup ice cream be made? Whomsoever in their right mind would eat it?
He reached across and brushed creamy dribble from the side of her mouth.
“Perhaps … We could … ?” he paused, struggling to articulate an intriguing possibility.
By Chris Lowe
Her eyes widened and twinkled like polished hubcaps. This man, this Hans, this cute-crazy Hessian knight with his chicken soup ice cream flirtation, yes, yes, she would play along.
“Cream, broth or consommé?”
“This language, I do not know so good. Ice cream, you know, lick lick lick.” He pantomimed what could fairly be interpreted as a Golden Retriever’s tongue lolloping the surface of a fresh chew treat.
She giggled, charmed. “You are a dog, I see.”
He bolted upright and his face took on a nervous glare. “That, no, that I am not!” He spun one-eighty and strutted off.
She thought about chasing after him to clear up the misunderstanding. But no, she had chased after too many men. She remained seated at the stainless steel table, his cup of chocolate marshmallow treat on one side of the table top and her cup of pistachio nut on the other, both untouched, both melting away alone in their separate cups.
By Lesley Mace
She didn’t quite believe him – but then that was the problem with men. She wondered why his English was too poor for the movie she wanted to see, but suddenly was sufficient for a perfectly constructed sentence about ice cream flavors. Weird.
“Cold is good for masking flavors,” she said, dosing his cornet with Special K.
Her kill-zone needed tidying, Sharon thought. Nowhere to put a new one.
She stomped up and down—Kevin’s arm, Latimer’s torso and Hachiro’s amazing scalp (hair still attached) were flung into a pile in the corner.
Hans was too heavy to carry down, but a push of her toe and gravity got him where she wanted him. She ripped tape off his mouth. Down in her cellar no one would hear him scream.
She didn’t find the wire until she had staked him out, and undressed him. The scribbled code ‘chicken soup ice cream’ fell out of his pocket with the tracker. And the Police Squad pounded down her stairs.
By Carina McNally
She tells him about the ice cream parlour near her home in Venezuela, which sells 900 flavours. She remembers names: trout, mushrooms in violet, hot dog.
They keep comparing weird German and Venezuelan ice cream flavours in monosyllabic terms.
Hans laughs then adds, “Polar bear.”
With the aid of a dictionary they compare the more obscure titles remembered and begin to guess the flavours and how they might taste.
She knew the flavour of this well.
And then remembered she was married.
By Petra McQueen – THIRD PRIZE
Was this a language problem? Or said to impress? A quick Google search, while he nipped to the loo, told her all she needed to know. Chicken Soup ice cream was a delicacy in the town of Unwahrsheinlichort. The recipe was simple: frozen chicken vomit. At weddings, the bridegroom fed it to the bride with a hand-carved Elk tusk.
As she queued for ice cream, she remembered her mother’s shopping list, stuck on the fridge with a TESCO magnet: fish fingers; chips; peas; potatoes. Same every week. Once there had been the word ‘Avocado!’ When she checked again, it’d gone. Perhaps it’d been a dream.
Hans came back, wiping his hands on his jeans. She beamed at him. All those months crashing the international exchange parties had borne fruit.
‘Try this,’ she said. She scooped a dollop of Rum and Raisin with a pink plastic spoon. Obedient, sensing more than the offer of food, he opened wide. Trembling, she spooned the cold confection into his warm mouth.
By Chris Minton – FIRST PRIZE
She laughed. “Why would anyone want to eat chicken soup ice cream?”
“Legend has it that on the coldest night of the year, a young wife threw her husband out of the house over a silly argument. She became concerned and regretful and placed a bowl of hot chicken soup on the porch to entice him back home.”
“When he didn’t return, she thought he had frozen in the snow and she died of grief. Later he returned home and found her dead body and the frozen chicken soup, which he ate as he cried.”
“That’s so sad.”
“So you see, Sharon, chicken soup ice cream is made to remind all lovers to treat one another with kindness and warmth.”
“You just made that up,” she giggled.
He shrugged. “Maybe one day you will come to Germany and discover the truth for yourself.”
She smiled. “Tell me about some other flavors.”
By Mark Pearse
“Wow,” she giggled. “I don’t believe it.”
“But it’s true, what I said,” he responded, his face a concerned shade of serious.
“No, I don’t mean I don’t believe you. I do, it’s just I don’t believe the coincidence. You see when I was young my grandma would put a scoop of vanilla ice cream in my chicken soup to cool it down and make it creamy. Granny knew I loved ice cream … even in chicken soup.” As she said this, she glowed with the memory of it.
A quiet grew then, between them, a delicious expectant silence, wafting like a warm breeze carrying the unspoken hopes of desire, and, sensing his nervousness, she smiled and ordered more ice cream.
By Kate Raynes – SECOND PRIZE
“I don’t believe you,” Sharon teased.
Hans winked. “I will prove it.”
It would take a year, but prove it he did. Newly wed, Hans led Sharon across the threshold of his family’s ice cream parlor. Her eyes took in flavor after bizarre flavor. Linen, parsnip, chicken soup – even one labeled simply, “dirt.”
Feeling clever, Sharon blurted out: “Okay, how about sorrow? What does joy taste like?”
Both Hans and his father, Heinrich, stood behind the counter as though stuck in place. Sharon feared she’d overstepped her bounds. Finally, Heinrich nodded his consent and stepped aside.
“We keep those in the vault,” Hans said, motioning for Sharon to follow.
After four iron bolts were released, the door opened, revealing containers filled and flavored by frozen emotion: compassion, lust, greed, awe – Sharon was overcome.
“Why? Why would you go to such lengths to bottle up these emotions?”
Without saying a word, Hans dipped his finger in a crimson bucket of love and gave his new bride a taste.
By Jenn Renner
“Chicken soup ice cream?” Sharon chuckled, “that sounds fowl!” She laughed loudly at her own joke. Hans did not.
“If there is anything I hate more than someone mocking my culture,” Hans said darkly, “it is a bad pun.”
Sharon’s smile evaporated. She was stunned by his angry demeanor and by how suddenly his English improved.
“The bad pun is an American tradition,” said Sharon sharply. “You can keep your horrific ice cream.” Hans’ eyes narrowed.
“Your president will be hearing from my Godmother, Angela Merkel, about this,” Hans hissed before marching out.
Thus began World War Three.
By Rose Servitova
“Ah, Jaysus!”, she thought, “this will never do. Our kids will be looking for feckin’ liver-paté-jelly to go with their chicken soup ice cream.”
“Look, Hans, I’ve got a headache. Must be the ice cream gave me brain-freeze.”
He looked stunned. She hopped to her feet, smiling politely but determinedly and headed for the door. A pang of guilt kicked at her chest, as she just registered the little piece of tissue sticking to his face where he obviously cut himself while shaving—in preparation for meeting her.
Feeling like a dirt-bag, she stepped out into the cold night and quickly consoled herself with the thought that she was saving him the world of pain and economy by nipping this in the bud. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, this dating game.
Reaching for her telephone, as she trotted down the street, she texted her friend to enquire in which bar she was drinking.
By Andrew Taylor
They had been seated outside the ice cream parlor for half an hour. The ice cream had long since been eaten and the bill settled.
“What other flavors do they have?” asked Sharon.
“Do they have banana?
“Yes, they have banana ice cream.”
“Do they have bacon?”
“Yes, they have bacon ice cream.”
“Do they have pepperoni pizza?”
“Yes, they have pepperoni pizza ice cream.”
“Good,” said Sharon. “You’re improving.”
This signaled the end of the session. Hans slid a twenty-euro note across the table to Sharon, which she quickly picked up and placed in her purse.
“Shall we meet the same time next week? Holidays okay? Prepare some things to say in advance and let me know any words you don’t know.”
The pair stood up from the table and shook hands.
“Oh,” said Sharon just before they went their separate ways. “Email me if you feel confident enough to see a movie. I’ll book the tickets and you can pay me back next week.”
By Sharon Thompson
‘Chicken soup ice cream?’ Sharon stutters.
‘Oh yes,’ Han says proudly.
‘Why would anyone want to eat chicken soup ice cream? I mean how could anyone think that is a good idea?’ Sharon’s nose is wrinkled.
‘Me. I like. I put all my money in.’
‘All your money in chicken soup flavored ice cream?’
‘Yes. About 1.5 million euro, I think you say invested?’
‘Right – Well that’s a lot of money lost then,’ Sharon is impressed in a weird way.
‘So you zink I loose some of my father’s money on mint flavoured crisps too?’
‘Have you invested it all?’ Sharon asks.
‘No. I have some million left.’ Hans smiles.
‘We are going to be very good together. I could eat chicken soup ice cream and mint crisps.’
By Ron Woods
“I’ve never been to Germany.”
“Oh, you should come.”
“Is it nice?”
“Oh, yes … very beautiful … I am from Munich … you should come to see.”
“Are you inviting me, Hans?”
“God, that would be great.”
“I was … ”
“We could go next week if you like—I can get some time off.”
“I … ”
“You could show me all the best places—does it have good pubs? And dancing—I love dancing—I’m a mad dancer altogether.”
“I am … ”
“And we could go walking in the parks during the daytime—we can get a dog—do you like dogs, Hans?”
“Well … no … I have … ”
“Everybody should have a dog—that’s what I think anyway—doesn’t matter, I could look after it myself—what will we call it?”
“Well … ”
“Ha! You should see your face Hans—you look like you’re having a stroke! I’m only joking with ya.”
“Oh … yes … I understand … a joke.”
“Your face is scarlet.”
“Yes … ”
“No but seriously Hans—will you bring me to Munich?”
Longlist (30 Endings)
in Alphabetical Order by Author Name
By Bint Arab
Sharon stopped. She tried to stifle her laughter, but then it just came out as snorts so she released it with abandon. Hans watched her intently, his cup of vanilla scoops forgotten in his hand. Sharon hoped he was not offended by her reaction.
She placed her hand on his chest to reassure him. “When I was a kid, I was sick, and my Nana would sneak thermoses of her chicken soup into the hospital, but my parents always brought me ice cream. I always wished I could have both at the same time: chicken soup ice cream!”
She was rewarded with a small smile.
“It seems you were not the only person to dream of such a thing,” he said.
“Have you tried it?” she asked.
“Ah, no. I never had the bravery.”
“I’m sure it’s delicious.”
His smile broadened. “I would bring you chicken soup ice cream if it would make you laugh again as you did just now.”
By Cassandra Arnold
She looked at him and decided it was not a language problem.
“In my country,” she said, “I never saw an ice cream shop until I was sixteen.”
She watched the blush creep up his neck and onto his face. He hadn’t asked where she came from.
“A remote corner of Queensland, Australia,” she said. “In case you’re wondering.”
The blush deepened. Sharon bit her lip. Being unkind was not auspicious behaviour.
The pimply-faced boy behind the counter was staring at her breasts as he waited for them to order. Hans counted almost under his breath. Twenty flavours. “Do you have …” He frowned, clicking his fingers unconsciously, lost for the word.
Sharon reached across him, pointing at a pale ice cream, untouched in its container.
“That’s not all the flavours in the world,” she said. “But it’s my favourite. Love at first bite.”
Hans stared down into her eyes.
“In Germany,” he said, “we always grab the new.”
By Alan Balkema
“That’s weird. What does it taste like?”
He looked at her skeptically. “Chicken soup.” He raised his voice and enunciated the three syllables very slowly.
Sharon felt her face flush but persisted. He really hadn’t answered her question.
“Is it salty?”
His expression clouded further. “It’s sweet.” He motioned with his hands to aid in the translation. “Ice cream.”
“It sounds awful.”
“Awe-full? Was ist das?”
“You know. Bad.”
He opened the door to the shop. She scanned the roster of flavors and was relieved to see the expected.
She ordered a scoop of vanilla in a cup. He went for a rocky road/pistachio double cone. The clerk handed Hans his cone, a lop-sided example of the dipper’s art. Sharon sensed trouble, but Hans accepted the cone and fumbled in his pants pocket for his wallet.
“I’ll treat,” Sharon said.
His pocket released his wallet at the same time the pistachio scoop fell onto his shirt.
“This is awe-full,” he wailed.
By Glenn A. Bruce
It was good except for the feathers.
By Bruce Costello
“Amazing.” Sharon repeated his sentence, counting on her fingers. “An unexpectedly complex twenty word sentence in faultless English. Strange for someone claiming to be a German student who struggles with simple English phrases.”
Hans looked sheepish. “Also, we haf shop sellink … dehydratisches Wasser.”
“Dehydrated water,” Sharon corrected. “But stop the crap. You’re pretending to be foreign and sexy to get me into bed!”
She kicked him in the privates.
“Why the bloody hell’d you do that, are you deranged or merely stupid?” Hans gasped.
“Just testing. As I suspected – you speak perfect English! What’s your game?” Sharon yelled, drawing back her fist. “The truth!”
“I’m CIA. And you’re Sonya Ivanovna Trediakovskaya, Russian spy,” replied ‘Hans,’ drawing a revolver.
The two stared at each other, the rest of the customers ignoring them.
“What can I get you?” asked the Brazilian behind the counter.
“Chicken soup flavoured ice cream sundae,” said ‘Sharon.
“Same for me. With rooster piss syrup,” said ‘Hans.
“Certamente. Take a seat.”
By Simon Costello
She waited for him to laugh and reveal his statement as a joke. He didn’t.
“Does everyone in Germany buy their ice cream in butchers?” she said.
His face perked up in slight confusion. “What? … No it’s the truth … you can get chicken soup flavour … very nice to eat on warm days.”
“So where is this wonderful shop then?” she said. She could indulge him till the ice cream was finished, and then invent some dramatic reason to leave. Maybe the Brazilians were still about.
He smiled at her, happy to understand the question. “It’s a street in Cologne, very pretty; it is right beside another shop that sells something even more interesting … can you guess what?” he said.
“I’ve never been to Germany so I wouldn’t know,” she said, “But tell me anyway.”
He looked down at what was left of his ice cream.
“Glass hammers,” He then winked at her and began to giggle.
“The Brazilians can wait,” she thought.
By Amanda C. Davis
“Is it any good?”
“It is strange,” he said, shrugging. “It is still ice cream.”
“I’d like to see that.” She put a hand on his arm. They shared that language, at least.
They spent the semester building a wall out of near-misunderstandings, mortaring it tight with communication that didn’t need words. She worked harder on her German than he did on his English. At Christmas, a travel visa, an overnight flight, a disapproving parent. A trip to an ice cream shop.
“Order me the chicken soup,” she told him, dimpling, in German. “I’ll be right back.”
Instead of slipping into the bathroom she slipped out the back door.
She swapped her passport with a forger she had met on the Internet. She paid cash for a train ticket. She wanted to call Hans to apologize, but didn’t.
Not her first choice, Germany. Strange. But when you’re hungry for escape—or even for ice cream—almost any flavor will do.
By Anna Donaghy
“That sounds so horrible I must try it some day.”
He nodded perfunctorily at the agreed response and they walked on.
Sharon’s initial disappointment rapidly gave way to admiration.
What a performance, Hans, she thought. Though of course that won’t be your real name. Just as you’re not interested in me, just as your English is probably better than mine. She admired the way he had steered them to the ice cream so that he could plausibly use that ridiculous code they had been given.
He gave her the information she was waiting for.
She felt a pang of unaccustomed regret, her work not quite overriding the wish that he had been just who he had appeared to be.
She felt suddenly the need to communicate this and said quietly, as he was leaving: “I’m sorry about the ice cream.”
She felt silly saying it but he turned and looked her in the eyes.
“So am I.”
By Deborah Druxman
“Is that typical in Germany?” she asked.
That even the hot is cold, Sharon wanted to say.
“Contradictions,” she said, “in food,” she added hastily. She tried reading his eyes for a glimpse behind them. They were dark as coal, but no embers there.
“Ah. Contradiction. Perhaps, or confusion,” said Hans awkwardly. He hesitated.
“But … can we not say that ice cream and chicken soup are both foods of comfort? And so, to eat them together is to feel … ”
“Doubly comforted?” Sharon asked. “Have you tried it?” She eyed him as his lips closed around a precisely rounded teaspoon of vanilla.
Hans frowned, looking past her to a decade ago.
“Mother served soup every night but Sunday. And ice cream never,” he said. “I do not want to mix the two.”
“Still, you’re not quite—” She couldn’t gauge. “Here.” Sharon scooped a dollop of her chocolate cherry chunk and offered it across the table. “Will you try?”
A faint glow ignited the coals, but he would not answer.
Ideas were not the only thing to be exchanged here. This gathering of the chosen ones was the precursor for breeding the world leaders of the future.
By Jan FitzGerald
Stunned at the perfect English, Sharon put him to the test. “Every flavor?
You mean sauerkraut? Tomato sauce? Steak and kidney pie ice cream?”
“Yes,” Hans said seriously without as much as an eyebrow twitch.
He was off the hook. For a minute she thought he might’ve been a fake, but it was more like a budgie learning to talk and fluking the right words occasionally.
They ended up at the local fairground where he won her a teddy bear on the rifle range. She could tell he was a nice person in a quiet, refined kind of way, but the spark just wasn’t there. She wished she’d gone out with the girls instead.
After an awkward meal and drinks at a bar, Hans texted for a taxi.
A few minutes later an expensive car with a diplomatic flag drew up.
“Good evening Sir, Madam,” the chaffeur bowed, opening the door.
“To Harrods, please, John,” Hans said, settling in beside Sharon. “I wish to buy this beautiful lady some jewelry as a thank you for a very pleasant evening.”
By Shirley Fletcher
Courting opportunities were limited but security guards aside, subjects moved freely within the confines of the facility which resembled a town in miniature, with the usual entertainment outlets. Love was long extinct, having proved to turn too easily to hate affecting life and society as a whole. Coupling was now governed by algorithms and intellect.
While sharing an ice cream was marginally better than speed dating, it still lacked the pleasantries traditionally expected when selecting the parent of one’s offspring. This short interlude would be one of the few social foreplay opportunities before pairing began so there was no time to be precious.
But fussy or not, Sharon was adamant no embryo of hers would ever start life flavoured by anything so ridiculous as chicken soup ice cream.
Did chicken soup equate to comfort for this guy?
By Eve Gaal
Maybe she didn’t understand. Did he just say, ‘chicken soup ice cream’? She nodded and waited for him to say something else. Finally, the gaps in their conversation were getting too long and she asked, “Hans, do you like chicken soup?”
“No, no,” he laughed, looking into her eyes. “Is that what you think I said?”
“Isn’t it?” He was so good looking she wanted to melt like chicken soup ice cream.
Blushing now, he picked up her hand. “Oh Sharon, I’m so sorry. It’s a joke. ‘She can schtoop-I scream.’
“Huh?” The round circles on his cheeks made him even better looking and his obvious embarrassment made him sexy as all hell.
He stood to leave. “I’m so sorry, I must go now. Are you mad?”
“No, not at all, just confused.” Perplexed but still enjoying his profile. “Can we have some?”
“What? I was joking.”
“Yes, yes,” she said with a smile. “Trust me, I do understand and I’m sure I’ll love it.”
By Greg Galanter
Sharon giggled. Hans must have made a mistake, she thought.
“Chicken soup ice cream?” She asked. “Are you sure?”
“Quite,” Hans replied.
She reached into her purse to pay for her ice cream, but Hans spoke before she found her money, “I pay.”
“Thank you, but you don’t have to do that,” she said, but she had stopped looking for money and was just pushing items around in her purse.
“I pay, I want to,” Hans said as he gently placed his hand on her arm.
Sharon let him pay for the ice cream, and they headed to the corner booth farthest from the door.
Three Brazilians filed into the shop, just as Sharon and Hans were sliding onto the same bench. They were far too immersed in each other to even notice.
By Carl Galloway
“We sell that in every shop here,” Sharon replied indifferently as they walked down Ice Cream Boulevard. She began to point at every shop. ‘Now selling Chicken Soup Ice Cream’ was plastered across every available window space. Get with the times, Sharon thought to herself as Hans looked around, bewildered.
They came to a shop that had a different sign. Sharon was intrigued. ‘Come in to try the newest flavor,’ she read out loud.
“We go inside?” Hans was drooling with anticipation.
They looked at the board. There was only one flavour—Brussel Sprout. As they were sitting down, Sharon’s phone rang. She excused herself and went outside to answer it.
As she took her phone out, she looked across the road. Every shop window read ‘Now selling Brussel Sprout Ice Cream’. Perplexed, she looked back in the shop. Hans was scoffing down his ice cream.
“Wunderbar!” He exclaimed between mouthfuls of the pastel green goo.
“Ja,” Sharon said absentmindedly, wondering what flavour would appear tomorrow.
By Joe Giordano
“You find that strange?”
Sharon lifted her spoon. “I’ll stick with nocciola.”
“I thought Americans were adventuresome.”
“What do you suggest?”
“Have you ever been to a Fortune Teller?”
A hazy red candle glow bathed the room. A wizened woman looked awoken from a trance. Her left nostril was pierced by a golden ring, and she wore a black headdress over streaked gray hair. Two arm tattoos were writhing serpents.
Sharon and Hans sat.
The woman shuffled cards. Her eyes rose. “Are you sure you want to proceed?” Her accent was East European.
The woman snapped open a card. A skeleton in armor rode a white horse. At the top was written, “Morte.”
Sharon blanched. “Dear God.”
Hans said, “Was ist das?”
The woman sighed. “The reading is over.”
Sharon sat back. “That’s not funny.”
The woman shrugged. “The cards reveal. There’s no charge.”
Hans apologized all the way back to university.
Sharon left him for a knot of Brazilians laughing together.
By Sandy Hiortdahl
It seemed unlikely, but perhaps she’d misheard him. “With chicken in it?”
“Of course. It couldn’t be chicken soup ice cream without chicken in it. Right?”
She let it go, but later, after they’d gone back to the dorm and started making out on his uncomfortable futon, and as he reached for the top button of her blouse, she stopped him. “You were kidding about the chicken soup ice cream?”
Hans blinked. “Why would I?”
“It sounds terrible.”
He sat up. “It’s very good on a snowy day.”
“Ice cream is cold.”
Suddenly, his dark eyes narrowed. “Nobody said you have to like it.”
She didn’t want to be antagonistic. She should let it go. He ought to know his own country, after all. His fingers were still on the button, her hand atop his. “You’re lying,” she heard herself say. “About the soup.”
“Forget about the soup,” he said.
Something clicked and she saw ahead of them a lifetime of forgetting. “No,” she said.
By Jon Lund
“Oh, you’re just TOO cute,” Sharon burst out laughing. “Cherry. The word is CHERRY, not Chicken. Cherry Ice Cream. Chicken Soup. Too. Funny!”
Hans looked at her with total confusion. Then a smile spread across his face as he understood. He started laughing himself.
Cherry? Stupid American, he thought to himself. I know the difference between cherry and chicken, but if it gets me back to your place tonight, I’ll laugh at anything you say.
With that Hans leaned back, flashed Sharon a smile, and continued to laugh.
By Frank McGivney
“Does it ruffle your feathers if you are feeling hot?” I asked him. Those brown eyes that I would look into for a lifetime went out of focus until a smile spread across his face with his comprehension.
“Yes, it is very stimulating,” he laughed, placing his hand on my arm gently, spreading his touch to reach my heart.
Thankfully the parlour didn’t serve chicken soup flavoured ice cream. I would have tried it if he had insisted, his awkward stiffness entrancing me into submission.
Six months later I sat at a table in his hometown, my stomach rumbling with excitement and panic. I smiled as he put the bowl in front of me. The one spoon, I tasted under his hopeful gaze and pretended to like. Amidst the giggling and talking we held each other’s hands with love. I looked back, as his arm wrapped around me, to see a waitress emptying my bowl, but his eyes were on me alone.
By Saaba Lutzeler
Sharon looked at him, licking her scoop, catching the drips. She licked her lips in a way Hans thought was gratuitous.
He suppressed the urge to scratch inside his ear, remembering his grandmother’s advice. Standing in her kitchen roost, amidst the tart smells of plum-cake season, she’d cautioned: “Don’t assume a woman wants you.” Sipping black coffee, she added, “Think you have her in the sack? You still can’t act any old way.”
Born Gruszczyska, Han’s grandmother took the German name Grussmann after moving westward, ahead of the Russians. Those post-war years toughened her, forging an unflappable, plain-spoken old woman.
Sharon offered Hans a chocolaty smile, showing her gums. Hans’ lips always covered his gums. He had horizontal lines for a mouth, with small, square teeth inside. Unlike Sharon, he didn’t show-all when he allowed himself to smile.
“I can’t get my head around the idea!”
“Because I bull-shit you!” he tried out his American phrase, risking a grin. Sharon showed her gums; Hans instinctively closed his mouth.
By Bill McStowe
Dozens of flavors were written in bright colors on the chalkboard by the window of the shop. The line was several people deep and comprised mostly of students from the exchange.
“Chicken soup?” Sharon said. “Have you tried it?”
Hans laughed. “No,” he told her. “It is not my first choice.”
Sharon liked his laugh. He had a nice smile. She imagined herself at the Kornmarkt in Heidelberg sharing a table with Hans, laughing and eating ice cream, under a cloudless blue sky.
She hooked his arm under his, which caused him to smile again. “You should try it some time,” she said. “Even though it’s not your first choice, you might like it.”
By Tyffany Neiheiser
“Have you ever tried it?”
“And how was it?”
She laughed. “Of course it was awful. Didn’t you know it would be bad?”
“Yes. I know chocolate ice cream will be good, but I still taste that.”
“Of course you want things you know will be good.”
“If you do not try, you will have … what is the word … ?”
“Avoided something bad?”
“No, a word for when you have a wish to do something different.”
“But you wouldn’t know you’d missed anything.”
“I would know. I do not wish to regret anything.”
“I’d regret trying chicken soup ice cream.”
“But I have done it. I tried it and can say I tried it. I want to be someone who is never afraid to try.”
She thought back on the things she hadn’t tried because she was afraid. She had always thought of herself as consistent, reliable. But maybe she was just boring. Scared.
She took a deep breath and smiled. “What other flavors do they have?”
By Hugh O’Neill
She nearly said, ‘leave deft traces on my memory. I’m alone here, unfound.’
Leaving; hands unfolded.
Untasted flavours, too difficult to understand.
By Brenda Paterson
“Well, I think we can find a more conventional flavor.” And they did. They both chose chocolate mint chip in crunchy sugar cones. They licked and ate their treats in a comfortable silence until she stated, “I guess I’d better get going home, Hans. Maybe we could meet up again soon?” she asked hopefully as she stood up.
Hans jumped up knocking crumbs off his shirt onto the books she’d been carrying. Instinctively he brushed them off succeeding in knocking the volumes to the ground. They bumped heads as they both dove to retrieve the spoils of his actions. Their hands met in the first actual physical contact they’d made. Sharon felt a bolt of romantic electricity.
Hans again looked flustered and blurted, “I’d like you to help with my school work. You look so bookish. Is that the right expression?”
“Right expression. Wrong response,” she flatly stated as she stormed away. “I should have picked the chicken soup flavor,” she muttered to herself.
By Britt Pierce
Sharon stared at him, shocked at what she just heard. She noticed Hans was smiling. He thought he was being amusing.
Sharon was not smiling. In fact, she was very sad.
Fighting back tears, Sharon said, “I don’t understand. I’ve tried everything: White meat, dark meat, no meat; noodles, no noodles, dumplings. A lot of broth, a little, none and every herb combination you can imagine. I even tried chocolate ice cream. Nothing worked.”
Hans became very confused, “What do you mean? I do not understand.”
“I love ice cream. That’s why I brought you here, to share something I love with you. I also love chicken soup. I’ve tried for years to combine the two. How did they do it? How could some shop in Germany get it right and not me?”
Hans wiped a tear from Sharon’s cheek with a napkin and said, “They didn’t get it right. It’s horrible. I would love to try yours.”
By Jenifer Ransom
“Really? I’ll pass.”
He looked puzzled. “Pass the ice cream?”
“Sorry, that’s one of our sayings. It means no, thanks.”
He looked at the list of flavors. “They don’t have it here.”
“Right, but if they did, I wouldn’t want it. Have you tried it?”
“Sure. I try anything.”
“And did you like it?”
“Not bad. Now, I’ll pass.”
“But they don’t have it here!”
“No, but if they did …”
Sharon smiled. “You’re a quick learner!”
They sat and licked their cones. “Many meanings for ‘pass,’ ” he said.
She looked it up at the Free Dictionary on her iPhone, and shuddered. “You’re right. So many.”
“English is crazy language.”
“Yes, we’re all mad here.” It was her favorite quote.
He looked puzzled again. “Angry?”
Sharon showed him the Cheshire Cat on her iPhone and told the story of Alice. Hans was interested and receptive.
They walked out on the street, holding hands and crowing to surprised passersby, “We’re all mad here!” and, “Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
By Di Robinson
The drug she had sprinkled on his dessert while he was in the restroom was working quickly. It had a mild hallucinogenic effect as well as sending its victims to sleep.
“Any other flavours?” she asked.
His eyes grew heavy; he slurred his words.
“Steak and kidney, fish and chips … ” he said.
His head dropped onto his chest and he started snoring lightly.
Sharon took the cash out of his wallet, which was on the table in front of him, and removed his passport. She could get good money for that. But she left the flight tickets and credit card. He seemed like a nice man and she did not want him to suffer more then necessary.
After putting on her coat, she left the restaurant, grinning. Chicken soup ice cream. Whatever next?
By Nanci Q. Rubin
“Interesting. Is it good?” The idea spoiled her butter pecan.
“Quite good.” He ate a spoonful of vanilla and while licking his lips he said, “Americans have unimaginative palates.”
Hans’ statement bristled her hackles. “I wouldn’t say that. Did you know a dentist invented Cotton Candy?”
Speechless, a confused expression spread across his face like an oatmeal facial scrub.
By Karen Seaton
Light breezy laughter and brief gazes …
Till now; Hans’ eyes met Sharon’s with something akin to a steely challenge, as mint hit his taste buds. His gaze was direct, penetrating.
Sharon was shocked and unsettled at what she, ‘never – fore’, saw. An intensity flared, startling her, dark, raw scorpionic depths in his black, brown eyes, like falling into a well.
She broke the gaze, looked down, heard him say something, didn’t quite understand, thru recesses of a long corridor, in her mind, heard it echo.
“Uru … ”
Courage sparked, smiling, looking up, she met his eyes; challenge … “Senga, eiko rai rai vinaka.”
Explosive laughter burst from them; tension released.
“I lived in Fiji for three years,” she explained, “doing Peace Corps work.”
… awaited his return …
But none came. He was listening, long after these things were revealed … listening for the wisdom of his heart to float up … Listening to what was most important.
She was intrigued, felt herself falling, caught inside something bigger than she might have the ability to endure.
By Dave Shellshear
“Well in Australia we have shrimp and wild mushroom flavour ice cream,” said Sharon, thinking quickly of a witty rejoinder.
Hans looked at her quizzically. His eyes widened and Sharon was suddenly struck by how intensely blue they were.
Sharon stared into his beautiful eyes. “Yes, in Australia people love their shrimp,” she added dreamily.
Hans looked more closely at the pretty stranger who he had just met and decided she was fun.
“You would like to try?” Hans said.
Sharon giggled. “No, I don’t think chicken or shrimp flavours really grab me” she said.
“Grab you?” said Hans, looking perplexed.
“Um I mean it’s not to my liking,” said Sharon.
“Ah, liking?” said Hans quickly pushing his tongue in and out quickly.
Sharon shook her head. “I think you mean licking.”
Hans hung his head and then fixed his blue eyes on her. “Can you please … learn English to me?”
Sharon smiled and nodded. That would be something she would like very much.
By Joe Young
“Why would anyone want chicken soup ice cream?” said Sharon, barely hiding disgust.
“We make the joke.”
“Oh, so you don’t have chicken soup ice cream in Germany after all?”
“Yes, we have some,” Replied Hans, a little bemused.
“But you just said it was a joke.”
“It is the very big joke. Tourists come see the chicken soup ice cream they will buy because they don’t see it before in their country and will take pictures eating it and tell friends what silly things we have in Germany.”
“Wouldn’t it make people feel sick though?”
“Ja of course, everyone sick after. Street has lot of vomiting.”
“Well Hans, I think that’s dreadful. You mean to say that you Germans deliberately give people something which will make them sick?” Sharon asked.
“Only if they want and if they get sick we have ice cream for that also.”
“Yes. Chicken soup ice cream. Cures everything.”
The following silence stretched to an uncomfortable length.
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