Sunday, May 8, 2016

Peanut Butter Marshmallow: The Story of Bethany Buttercup and Sticky Situations

“I sure wish I had some new friends,” said 10-year-old Bethany Buttercup, eating marshmallows from a bag. “I think I need a marshmallow friend.” Then her shy eyes lit up with a bright idea. “If I leave the marshmallow tube on overnight in my father’s factory, I could make a Marshmallow friend, and he’ll be as big as a snowman!”

Bethany’s dad ran the largest marshmallow factory in Virginia, churning out marshmallows for nearly half a century. Mrs. Buttercup tried to stay out of business dealings. In fact, she had eaten one too many marshmallows in her lifetime.

“Marshmallows go from cooking into a bag in less than a half-an-hour, made from corn syrup, water, dextrose, and air,” Mrs. Buttercup said to the neighbors when they asked. “Our marshmallows travel to almost a hundred countries worldwide. Marshmallows were first made in ancient Egypt mixed with honey. Here’s a bag,” she would say, giving them the latest batch fresh out of the factory. “We are up to our eyes, ears, and nose in marshmallows!”

Later that night, Bethany crept through the window into her father’s factory with a flashlight and turned on the machine.

“By morning, I’ll have a new best friend,” she said, positioning the tube in an open area of the factory floor. 

Then, she left the machine to churn and slipped out the window, closing it tight as if she was never there. Air blew the marshmallow bigger and bigger until it was larger than human size, almost busting out of its own skin.

In the morning, she heard her dad slam the telephone on the wall, saying: “Bethany! Were you in the factory last night?”

Her mother ignored Bethany’s father, who often overreacted. “Darling, eat something with less sugar,” her mom said to Mr. Buttercup. 

For breakfast, Bethany’s father poured a sugary, marshmallow cereal into a large bowl with chocolate milk. Bethany tried to play dumb, acting like she knew nothing about the possible breaking and entering into the factory.

“Uh, I don’t remember. Well, maybe. Why?” Bethany said to her dad, grabbing a jar of peanut butter from the cupboard. 

“Let me help you remember,” her father said. “The security guard said you are on a video, sneaking into the factory. Now, I told you that I am running a business, and you can’t just sneak into the factory any old time,” he said.

“Okay, Dad, let me just come to work with you today,” Bethany said. “No one will miss me at school!”

“Fine, at least we can get this straightened out!” her father said, finishing his cereal with marshmallows. “Get dressed!”

Upon arriving at the Dunberry Marshmallow Factory, Bethany jumped out of her father’s car and ran inside. The security guard had a grimaced look on his face as he opened the front door of the factory for Bethany. She took her jar of peanut butter with her, ready to paint a personality on her new marshmallow comrade. 

“Wow!” she said, throwing open the factory door and looking at her marshmallow-cotton ball friend. 

“What in the world is going on?” her father said, staring at the marshmallow blob, nearly bigger than two people.

“This is what I was trying to explain on the phone, sir,” the security guard said. “I wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

The larger-than-life marshmallow seemed iconic at the factory. Anyone would want to hug him; except he was too sticky.

“I just needed a friend, Dad. You have to understand,” Bethany said, swirling the peanut butter with her index finger. 

Then, she pulled out a ladder from the closet, climbed up it, and created a face of peanut butter on the marshmallow. As she finished making a smile in peanut butter, her father unrolled the water hose from the wall and turned it on high. 

“Wait! Dad! Don’t spray him! He’ll melt! I spent all night making him!” Bethany said. “Now he has a face! And he has a name: Peanut Butter Marshmallow. You can’t spray someone who has a face and a name! It’s just not right.”

“Fine! Well, what are you going to do with him? Just have him sit there all day and look at him?” her dad said. 

“Mr. Buttercup, pleased to meet you. I’d like to accompany your daughter, Bethany, as her pal,” the Marshmallow said suddenly.

“What? How did you become real?” Mr. Buttercup said, trying to figure out how the white creature was talking to him. 

“Your daughter willed me into existence with her precious imagination,” Bethany’s sweet friend said in a kind voice. 

“If you ever cause me any problems, I am spraying you, or roasting you at a campfire, or doing whatever I have to do to get rid of you,” her father said, poking him in the side. “I’m running a business! You’ve already cost me too much!”

“Yes, sir, I understand,” Peanut Butter Marshmallow said. “I will do everything in my power to help your business.”

As time went on, Mr. Buttercup got so used to Peanut Butter Marshmallow. Every night, the sugary goodness set an extra chair at the dinner table for himself. Every morning, he made his own bed in the guest room with extra pillows. He even had a toothbrush in the bathroom to prevent cavities. Of course, he flossed to prevent gum disease as well. 

Mrs. Buttercup was just glad that she could support a marshmallow that would not cause someone to have a root canal. 

“I love you so much, Peanut Butter,” Bethany said, even forgetting that he was indeed a marshmallow.

Sometimes, her sidekick found himself in awkward positions, like when he couldn’t fit through a doorway, or when he was too large for an armchair, or when people tried to eat more than a bit of him for a snack.

“He’s my best friend,” Bethany said, quickly, so no one could make fun of him. “We have the best time together.”

Any time anyone bullied Bethany, the Marshmallow was quick to roll those people right out of the way. 

“The world has no room for meanies,” P.B. said, bopping nasty children in the head with his marshmallow hand.

Peanut Butter Marshmallow and Bethany did everything that a child should do with her best friend: read books together about chocolate, shared secrets about school, sang songs off-key about candy, ate too many sugary desserts, built snowmen in the winter, rolled down green hills in the spring, and didn’t tell anyone when either of them made a mistake. 

Of course, Peanut Butter Marshmallow came with her to school on Best Friend Day, and he made Bethany so many new friends that she was the most popular girl in her grade. All the boys and girls gathered round her to meet her best friend.

“I’m so glad that my dad didn’t spray you with the hose,” Bethany said. “Look what I would have missed!”

“Every now and then, I still consider roasting him between graham crackers with a chocolate bar!” Mr. Buttercup said.

“We know that you don’t mean that,” Mrs. Buttercup said. “Please add more protein to your diet and less empty calories.”

Despite all, Mr. Buttercup came to love Peanut Butter Marshmallow. In fact, he created a line of marshmallows with peanut butter filling, which were some of his most popular treats in years. 

“Yes, I’m the first, the real, the only Peanut Butter Marshmallow,” the Marshmallow said, posing for pictures.

“He’s not at all sticky when I hug him,” Bethany said for the cameras. “I just love him too much!”


Copyright 2019 Jennifer Waters

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