Author Topic: PC368: Dinkley's Ice Cream  (Read 6999 times)


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on: June 17, 2015, 08:45:04 PM
PodCastle 368: Dinkley’s Ice Cream

by Effie Seiberg

read by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Originally appeared in “Fierce Family”, a Crossed Genres anthology showing positive representations of QUILTBAG families, in January of 2014.

Shanti squirmed with anticipation, trying to wriggle away from my hairbrush but caught by the knots in her curls. “A fair!” she said. “With monkeys and elephants and a magic man!”

“Yes, a fair!” I agreed, not wanting to confirm the rest – not wanting to set up any disappointment as I set down the brush on her bedside table. She beamed up at me with her sunshine smile and I looped a thin elastic around a pigtail. Four years old, and I’d never been able to take her before. Too expensive.

Fairs don’t come to the city. It’s too crowded, and where would they set up the tents? To even get to the fair it was a five dollar bus ride (two dollars for kids), plus a dollar eighty five for the shuttle if you didn’t walk. We walked.

Rated G.

Effie Seiberg is a science fiction and fantasy author living in San Francisco. A graduate of Taos Toolbox, her short fiction can be found or is upcoming in Lightspeed Magazine’s “Women Destroy Science Fiction”, Crossed Genres Magazine, and Stupefying Stories, among others. She lives near the former and upcoming (but not present) sculpture of a 4-ft-tall pink bunny head holding a skull in its mouth. You can follow Effie on her website,, or on Twitter, at @effies.

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has self-published one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a story at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology. Khaalidah also reads slush at Escape Pod where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit science fiction stories.

Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth.
You can catch her posts at her website,, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah.

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 02:03:55 PM by Talia »


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Reply #1 on: June 18, 2015, 01:12:00 PM
Wow, amazing. I really loved this one.

Science means that not all dreams can come true


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Reply #2 on: June 18, 2015, 03:10:10 PM
I really loved this story. I have 2 small daughters and it really struck a chord with me. Now I want to eat nostalgic ice cream and encourage my girls that they can be whatever they want to be :) Thanks for selecting this one.

Just Believe...


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Reply #3 on: June 19, 2015, 07:26:09 PM
I may be saying this as I am work in Higher Education, but the last sentence of this story brought a bit of goosebumps and teary eyes.

This was wonderful. I was impressed with the way the author painted well the way children think and process the world. I was MORE impressed with the idea that the future and present can be transformed through nostalgia of one's own past. I was even more impressed, yet, of the power of childhood. It seems the author is teaching the basic Truth (with a capital T) that childhood has significantly more power than we give it credit for. Our adult lives are living on the fuel of childhood past.

Overall, this story does a great job of inducing the reader to consider realigning your path towards long-forgotten dreams. The protagonist reestablished a partnership with the power of her childhood, and that is power, indeed.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2015, 07:31:15 PM by brlteach »


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Reply #4 on: June 20, 2015, 01:01:08 PM
I liked this too. Not sure what else to say that hasn't been covered.

Childhood is amazing, and TOTALLY wasted on kids!

I did find myself thinking of a little ice cream shop I found in Windermere a few years ago. You go through this narrow Cumbrian door into a sturdy Cumbrian building and into a tiny shop where I don't know how they found room for all the flavours! If you ever are in England's Lake District and visit Windermere, and you've taken about as much of the Beatrix Potter experience as one grown-up can handle, and you've rounded up all the small girls in your party and frog marched them out of there, go and find the ice cream shop by the lake, and I recommend the Rhubarb And Custard.

Be warned though... It is SHARP!

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


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Reply #5 on: June 22, 2015, 02:11:33 PM
I enjoyed this.  I like ice cream, and novelty flavors of ice cream all the more.  The most memorable one that comes to mind was not from my childhood, but from a trip to Ireland a few years ago, in Killarney I think?  Really neat novelty shop that let you take a scoop of two different flavors on a cone.  I think sea salt caramel was my favorite.  Oh, and then there's Italy with the gelaterias on every corner which make the ice cream I am used to look like Hershey's waxy everlasting chocolate as compared to the good stuff from a chocolatier.  Yum!

Was I the only one who was kind of filled by dread by the presence of the shop?  I was really quite relieved to find the sign that said that this was the last day of the fair, because a permanent location for that ice cream shop would be horribly destructive, IMO.  This woman, even pushing against overpowering debt, went three days in a row, knowing she couldn't really afford it.  If it were just the cost of the ice cream, $3 it wouldn't be so bad, but if you have to pay to get into the fare and pay for the bus that adds up to expensive ice cream.  I'd be afraid that if she could go every day, she would, she'd end up losing her job at the restaurant from non-attendance, falling into debt, to try to grab at that escapism.

So I was quite glad when the shop went away, and then she saw the paper to give her a chance at changing her life. 

Was I the only one who felt that growing sense of dread as she was drawn further and further into nostalgia?  And relief when the wonderfully horrible ice cream shop went away?


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Reply #6 on: June 29, 2015, 02:35:27 AM
Was I the only one who felt that growing sense of dread as she was drawn further and further into nostalgia?  And relief when the wonderfully horrible ice cream shop went away?

Oh, you're definitely not the only one. I was worried at her inability to resist temptation, spending extra money and even skipping shifts/risking being fired, but I was dreading that she would somehow end up staying in the past permanently and abandoning her own daughter.
Luckily for both, this is Podcastle, not Pseudopod. I was not only relieved but happy that the flashbacks, which seemed at first to merely highlight her present unhappiness, ended up giving her the inspiration and strength to plan for a better future. I also liked the meta implication of how fantasy stories can help people figure out ways of dealing with real life. Good story!


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Reply #7 on: June 29, 2015, 06:46:26 PM
Was I the only one who felt that growing sense of dread as she was drawn further and further into nostalgia?  And relief when the wonderfully horrible ice cream shop went away?
You were certainly not the only one. The moment she had the first flashback, I felt a sense of unease.

I was pleasantly relieved at the hopeful ending.

"You don't fix faith. Faith fixes you." - Shepherd Book


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Reply #8 on: July 05, 2015, 03:22:32 AM
I liked this story too.  I thought I did not feel the dread, but upon thinking further I must have reassured myself with the fact it was a fairground stall.  Because, yes I agree I did cross my mind that money was a problem.  The author made it feel like an uplifting story though. Money was not the issue, pick up an extra shift or two, too get back on budget. Then the renewed hope.


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Reply #9 on: July 08, 2015, 03:46:08 PM
The author made it feel like an uplifting story though. Money was not the issue, pick up an extra shift or two, too get back on budget. Then the renewed hope.
I think the renewed hope was my favorite part of this delightful story. I just know she'll be a successful architect!


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Reply #10 on: July 09, 2015, 03:15:06 PM
This one really resonated with me. As a relatively new mother and the sole source of income in our little family, I have of late been agonizing over my income and how it will affect my daughter. I absolutely writhed in discomfort when the Mom kept going over budget and returning to the fair. It was a more intensely uncomfortable experience than I could have predicted a year ago and forced me to rethink how I've been approaching my own life.
I loved the ending. Sometimes we need hope and a renewal of that eternal optimism that is youth. (Or at least youth in a stable country.) Dinkley's evoked old memories and hopes and helped me step back from going down the worry rabbit-hole in my own life.

“My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. LeGuin


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Reply #11 on: July 18, 2015, 12:26:53 AM
I too am immensely glad how this story turned out, I worried about her getting lost in the memories, addicted to the sense of freedom and other things. I have read quite a bit of escapist fiction that would end on that note, ignoring the horror of those left behind and abandoned in their escape. Instead it was a journey towards the vigor and joy of youth as opposed to youth itself and I think this story will stick with me for quite some time.


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Reply #12 on: July 18, 2015, 09:02:55 AM
@childoftyranny, good to have you back! :)


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Reply #13 on: July 18, 2015, 12:02:16 PM
Thank you!  :D


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Reply #14 on: July 21, 2015, 04:45:12 PM
Was I the only one who felt that growing sense of dread as she was drawn further and further into nostalgia?  And relief when the wonderfully horrible ice cream shop went away?

I'm so glad you guys felt like that too. At some point I realized nearly all of my horror fiction deals with addiction in some way, because there is literally nothing more terrifying to me. And that's exactly what this felt like in the middle...I did almost forget it was Podcastle, not Pseudopod.

I was so glad she was able to not only pull out of the cycle (whether it was just because the carnival was closing or not), but get something positive out of it.

Nice to have a happy ending once in awhile.  :)


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Reply #15 on: August 04, 2015, 02:25:01 AM
I too was very glad that we had a positive ending to this story. But, I think that must have always been the plan. The carney commented that for some people it takes multiple trips, implying that her renewed sense of vigor and youthful hope was the goal all along. Life has been hard enough for her that it took three flashbacks to lighten her load. Others who have had an easier life may only require one or two cones to rediscover their passion. Wonderful story! Now, do I have any ice cream in the fridge, I wonder?


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Reply #16 on: October 02, 2015, 08:36:24 AM
I loved the story. I wasn't even sure if there is a single fantasy element in it - this could just have been strong flashbacks (even if the protagonist denies it). Not that I mind, I like stories that are ambiguous over the fantastical elements.

Great reading, too!