“STEP RIGHT UP TO THE LEMON STREMON PARTY” I wrote in large capital letters across the top of the page. Clara sat off to one side carefully matching each stoke with a fat red crayon on a sheet of yellow construction paper. When I got to the part about lemons I stopped for a second.
“Clara, is Lemon Stremon two words, or is it just one?”
She tapped the crayon on her chin and closed her eyes in thought. “I think it’s two words.”
I finished writing the invitation for her and slid it across the table so she could see it without leaning out of her chair.
“So…” I finally ventured to ask. “What is a lemon stremon anyway?”
“These things Lydia and I invented.” She said without looking up from her paper. “They are like… sort of a desert.” She crossed a T, and put her crayon down. “We make them by… well. Here.” She jumped up and left the room and returned shortly carrying a large platter covered in tiny paper cupcake sleeves. Each one had a dime sized slice of wet lemon inside.
I looked at the arrangement of twenty or so morsels and then back up at her. She was smiling down on them proudly like a litter of puppies.
“These are just lemons,” I said.
“No no no. They look like lemons, but they taste like limes!”
My eyes grew wide.
“No. I think I would rather not.” I told her.
“Pleeeease?” she said sweetly. “Just one!” And she patiently shuffled through the papers with her delicate hands before finding the very best one.
I reluctantly took the paper cup in my hand and slurped the soggy bit of lemon into my mouth like a gourmet clam. The bitterness was overwhelming. I doubled over backwards as my body chased my tongue in it’s frantic retreat. The shock of sourness puckered my face into a black hole, my mouth sputtering as it sucked in all the light in the room instantly, all hope of life in the universe gone in a slurp and a pathetic wheezing sound. I convulsed like a dying slug covered in salt. Writhing in agony. Tearing at my throat in mindless despair. Several seconds later I came to on the floor, panting and dizzy.
“That was exciting.” I rasped plainly to the little girl standing over me.
She giggled then became suddenly serious. “Okay. So, we take lemons, and we soak them in lime juice and put them in the freezer for a few hours. Then we take them out and let them thaw for a bit on the counter. Then they are ready to eat!”
I blinked at her and coughed. She extended a hand to help me up.
“Thanks,” I said and motioned in a circle with my hand, “for everything.”
The girls spent another two hours working on their sign and arranging their treats on the flowered plate. Once everything was perfect they both nodded at each other and put on boots and headed up stairs.
I was of course curious what they had going on, so after a few seconds I wandered upstairs to find them. The front door was standing open and the two of them were already at the end of the driveway and headed into the street. Clara with her construction paper sign held under the platter and her sister shivering in a sleeveless sundress and massive snow boots up to her knees.
“Hey!” I yelled after them. “Hey, stop! What in the world are you doing!?”
Clara motioned down the street with her elbow. “Didn’t you see? The new neighbors are out in their yard today. I was going to share our treats with them and invite them to come to our Lemon Stremon Party this afternoon!”
I shook my head in stunned silence. “Um… yeah, let’s not do that, okay?”