If Fred had kept my nose

“I’ve got your nose,” the giant said to me, sweeping his hand up, up, and away. Far, far above my face, he held his fist so the tip of something nose-like poked out between his index and middle fingers.

“What do you think of that, Annabelle? Fred’s stolen your nose,” my father teased me, winking at his college fraternity brother and 30-year business associate.

I looked forward to Dad’s company picnic every year: the balloon clowns, the games, the other kids, and the pretzels. The plump, steaming, doughy pretzels. Dipped in warm caramel. Every bite of those huge pretzels, every hot morsel sang on the tongue, the perfect chorus of yeasty and salty and sweet. When the last harmonious bite was gone from the piece of wax paper with which it had been extracted, that was when you licked the last drops of salt and caramel from your fingers.

I glanced up at my father, then at Fred, then over at the smiling pretzel man’s steaming cart, my own smile down-turned with worry. “Ah hahaha, here you go, young lady. Here’s your nose back,” said Fred, his great thumb knuckle brushing the bridge between my nostrils.

Thank goodness, I thought, my face rebounding to happy. Imagine: A warm pretzel would have lolled on my tongue, tasting of nothing, if Fred had kept my nose.

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