There once was a chestnut who sought to rise above his lot in
life. He lived in the kitchen cabinet of a family of four, just behind the
cans of tomato paste but before the jar of cashews. He lived in a paper bag
with 19 other chestnuts, and his name was Alphonse. Because of his name he was regarded with great suspicion by the other chestnuts, and even Alphonse was not sure why he had
been given that particular name. His brother's name was Chester, his father's
name was Chester, and his
grandfather's name was Chester. In fact, almost every chestnut Alphonse knew
was named Chester, with a few Chutneys and Chucks thrown in for variety. There
were, however, no other Alphonses.
Alphonse was not just unusual because of his name. He was different because he
wanted to change his destiny. He knew that, as a rule, chestnuts were fated to
be cracked open and devoured. He had even heard ghastly tales of chestnuts
being roasted over open fires. Alphonse was amazed at how easily his fellow chestnuts accepted their futures. "The best we can ask for is to go down smoothly," a wise and
respected old chestnut had once uttered, mere minutes before he had been
plucked from the bag to be
relocated down a man's gullet.
And what a man it was! Henry O'Halloran was perhaps the most renowned nut
lover in the entire county. To the left of the cashews dwelled a can of
peanuts, and a jar of macadamia nuts had been finished off not two days
earlier. O'Halloran had incisors
sharp enough to give a hammerhead shark reason for envy, and he was reputed to
have a prized sterling silver nutcracker with his initials, H.O.H, engraved
upon it. Some of the chestnuts took pride in providing nourishment for such a
man, but Alphonse would have none of it.
"I'm going to leave this place," he confided to a nearby chestnut one morning,
who happened to be named Chester.
"Nonsense," Chester snorted. He had heard things about this Alphonse. "Where
will you go? Do you think a chestnut walking around the kitchen will not be
"I hope not!" Alphonse cried. "I don't want to be cracked open and eaten!"
"It's a noble profession," Chester muttered. "Show some dignity, at least.
Besides, if Henry finds you out of the cabinet, you know where you'll go
Down the gullet, Alphonse thought gloomily to himself, but he couldn't sit
around on his shell forever. He would just have to find some way to hide.
Quickly he climbed out of the bag, ignoring the surprised voices of the other
chestnuts. Behind him he
could hear the high-pitched cries of the cashews as they tried to learn what
the excitement was all about.
"Jailbreak!" he heard one of them shout. "Someone's going over the shelf!"
Alphonse left the racket behind as he crept around the two cans of tomato
paste, which, unlike the nuts, were generally quiet and not much inclined
towards speaking to others. He pushed open the cabinet door wide enough to
peek down. The counter was below him, a good jump, but he trusted his strong shell to see him through.
Whump! He landed safely and looked out across the kitchen. There was a lot of
open space, and not a lot of room to hide. He could hide behind the
refrigerator and probably never be found, but Alphonse was a little afraid
about what kind of things lived behind refrigerators. Besides, living behind a refrigerator didn't sound like
much of a life.
He needed a plan, and he needed one quickly, before Henry and
his sharp teeth wandered into the kitchen.
About the author
John Costello is an aspiring fantasy/children's author. John
is a native of Milton, Massachusetts and a 1994 graduate of Wesleyan
University. John also has a master's degree in elementary education from
Boston University and has taught in several elementary schools in the Boston area.
John has written two adult fantasy novels, one children's chapter book and two
children's picture books. John has also had a poem titled Grandfather
published in Great Poems of Our Time. Right now, John is working on a third
fantasy novel and a screen
John would love to hear from anyone who read The Easter Chestnut and has
comments. His e-mail is: email@example.com
The Prune Copyright 2001, John Costello
The Prune Copyright 2001, FableVision