The Easter Chestnut
John Costello

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 noticed?"
"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 next."

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 play.

John would love to hear from anyone who read The Easter Chestnut and has comments. His e-mail is:

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The Prune Copyright 2001, John Costello
The Prune Copyright 2001, FableVision