“Cherry Berry Lick-A-Licious,” by Cayce Osborne

Dec 20th, 2019 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Lord Abernathy’s piercing gaze blazed across the ballroom, the fire in his azure eyes burning a trail directly to Lady Annabelle’s loins. With a swish—

The shift whistle screamed, breaking Annie’s concentration. She clicked save on her latest story before stowing the laptop in her locker. Tucking blonde curls into her hairnet and stuffing the last of her tuna salad sandwich into her mouth, she hurried out to the bottling floor.

Doreen was already seated across the conveyor belt, wearing a novelty sweatshirt featuring a splay-legged cat grooming its huge, hairy testicles under the words SEND NUDES.

“How are they hanging, Doreen?” Annie wasn’t fond the expression, but it was the only greeting her co-worker responded to.

“Long and loose and full of juice.” Doreen hoisted a breast in each hand and jiggled.

The production line lurched into motion, sending plastic bottles streaming past Annie and Doreen’s station. In charge of quality control, they were a good team—keeping each other alert with chit chat or shin kicks (when necessary) so their accuracy rating didn’t suffer. The idea of being demoted to Taste-Tester made Annie shudder.

Doreen peeled a wad of Doublemint gum off the underside of her stool and popped it into her mouth. Both women donned their nose plugs as the unmistakable scent of Cherry Berry Lick-A-Licious filled the air. It wasn’t quite as bad as Woo Woo Watermelon, but going without plugs was still inadvisable.

“Talk that hoity-toity Englishman into meeting up yet? About time you let him beat around your bush.” Doreen laughed until her Wrigley’s threatened to launch.

Annie pulled a cracked bottle off the line and put it in the duds bin that sat next to her stool.

“No, not yet. But at least on Skype I can enjoy Gareth’s dreamy accent and gorgeous brown eyes. It’s a huge commitment to fly to another country when we’ve never actually met. Online dating is tricky, I wanna do this right.”

Riiight,” said Doreen.


Gareth had successfully evaded the factory’s security guards thus far, but the difficult bit was yet to come. He’d begun to sweat in his tuxedo. He took off his dove grey top hat to check that the diamond ring, purchased at a lovely shop on Minge Lane, was still wedged in the silk hat band. Satisfied, he gave his ensemble one final look—praying he could pull off his planned homage to My Fair Lady, Annie’s favorite movie—and wrenched open the back door of the factory.

Hit with a cloying face-full of artificial fruit, he nearly packed it in right then. Annie had refused to provide details about her factory work, and Gareth couldn’t fathom what concoction would require such a fragrance.

The machinery made such a bruhaha he feared his plan would be ruined. He scanned the hair-netted employees, but none looked like Annie. He’d just have to get on with it and hope for the best.

Breathing shallow to avoid gagging, he burst forth, sliding across the floor on his slick-bottomed oxfords.

“I have often walked down the street before,” he crooned, vibrato on full.

“But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before…”

No one could hear his song with all the noise!

The rotund shift manager, walking above on the metal catwalk in a penguinated waddle due to the shockingly low inseam on his trousers, glared down at him. Gareth sang directly to the man, playing to his audience of one, as it were.

The manager blanched, and with a wary eye on the tuxedoed intruder, slammed the red EMERGENCY STOP button with a meaty palm.

The motors and rotors and belts and bottles wound down with a clanking rattle. All eyes raised to the manager. He pointed accusingly. The entire population of the factory swiveled in unison from him to Gareth, as if watching a tennis match.

In the sudden quiet, Gareth held back a bilious cherry-imbued burp and launched into song once again, searching for Annie.

“People stop and stare, they don’t bother me…”

There she was! That beautiful, kind-eyed visage! Joy propelled him forward.

“For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be.”

Hurk! went his gag reflex. But his midday pudding stayed blessedly put.

He kneeled at her feet, pulling off his hat with a flourish and throwing his arms wide before delivering the song’s closing line.

“Let me be on the street where you live.”

He almost choked on the final note as his eyes were drawn to a tiny metal object arcing away from him, through the air toward a large open vat. The song’s conclusion was punctuated by a dreadful blerp as it landed. With a sick feeling that had nothing to do with the miasma in the air, he looked at his hat-in-hand and saw—with a horror usually reserved for gentlemen donning seersucker post-Labor Day—that the ring was gone.


“Gareth, you’re… here!” Annie helped him off his knees and locked him in a fierce hug. He smelled like oiled leather and fresh pipe tobacco, just as she’d imagined.

“Darling! My heart lifts at your nearness, but I regret that the engagement ring I hoped to slip onto your lovely finger has landed over, erm, there… in that rather large… quite odorous… vessel.” He pointed at the steel vat squatting behind the bottling line. “What do you make here, anyway?”

A becoming blush spread from Annie’s cheeks to her ears.

“Um, persmumble lumumble.”

“What was that, dearest?”

“It’s lube!” yelled Doreen. “Sex sauce! Penis paint! Per-son-al lu-bri-cant.”

After recovering from this unexpected information—not to mention Doreen’s robust delivery—Gareth stripped off his jacket and set his hat atop Annie’s head. He climbed the vat’s ladder and dove into the pool of Cherry Berry Lick-A-Licious Personal Lubricant™ with a terrific splat.

Annie, dodging the wave of sludge that slopped over the edge, suffered a moment of indecision. This was a huge step, and he hadn’t even consulted her. How unlike him! How… bold and delightful! She made it up the ladder as he emerged from the pink ooze like a crowning calf, covered in gelatinous goo and holding the ring aloft. Annie pulled him close and wiped the gunk from his face, combing dark hair out of his eyes. Snugging her nose plugs tighter, she gave him a long, lube-a-licious kiss.

“He’s a keeper,” Doreen yelled. “But I’d hose him down first… or not. Whatever you kids are into.”

When Annie broke their embrace, she was seized by Gareth’s piercing gaze. The fire in his azure eyes burned a trail directly to her loins.


Cayce Osborne works in science communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been published in Typehouse Literary MagazineExposition Review, and Toasted Cheese Literary Journal. She lives in Madison with her husband Mike, sons Devon and Rhys, and two belligerent cats. Read more at cayceosborne.com.

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