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Secret Sauce

By Venus Wright

When I was young, from about two years old until around my fourth or fifth year on earth, my mum fibbed every time I’d ask for juice. She had invented “secret sauce”, which was very enticing, but was really just water. With a goal to preserve my teeth and limit my sugar consumption at that age, she would dilute each cup of juice by half with water. This was, funnily enough, a secret to me, but not one I particularly cared to inquire about. 

I remember being around four years old, the year before going into kindergarten, when I stayed home with my mum. She worked from home my entire childhood, and her home office was right next door to my bedroom. Getting up from my spot in front of my dollhouse on the floor in my room, I walked to the next room over in the hallway. My mum sat in front of the sole window of the room, Spring light shining over her glass-covered wooden desk. The wood was made up of intricate designs outlined in gold, shimmering lightly beneath the reflection of glass. 

My mum sat with her back to me as she typed at her computer. 

“Mum, can I have some juice?” I asked from the doorway. 

“Let me finish this one thing and then I’ll get it for you,” she said without turning around. 

I stayed in my spot and waited, she never took much time to get to a stopping point. Before long she spun around to face me, smiled, and stood up. Together we walked through the hallway, taking a right into the kitchen. The yellow walls combined with the bright overhead light and made the kitchen appear as if we were standing in a sunray. I watched her as she pulled my purple Strawberry Shortcake cup, my favorite cup, out of the cupboard. She moved to the fridge, opening it before facing me. 

“Do you want secret sauce?” She asked. 

I nodded eagerly, a wild grin on my face. I wouldn’t learn the truth about secret sauce until I’d gotten to teenagerhood, but I never cared. It was secret, so it had to be cool! She turned back to the fridge. 

I didn’t know it then, but my parents kept a spouted jug of water in the fridge and my mum would fill the cup halfway with juice, the other half with water. With her back to me, my mind raced with what secret sauce might’ve been. There were too many possibilities in my little brain. It could’ve been anything from special flavoring to molten gold for all I knew. 

My mum turned back to me and handed me the cup, tiny in her hands but just right in mine. I took a sip and smiled up at her. 

“Will you play with me?” I asked. 

She smiled but shook her head, “I’ve gotta go back to work now, but I’ll play with you later, ‘kay?” 

I nodded and she walked back down the hallway to her office after reminding me that I need to drink my juice in the kitchen, not in my room. 

I took a few more sips, relishing in the sugar before setting it on the counter. I headed back to my room with a placebo sugar burst and a smile of blissful ignorance. 

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