chocolate touch book cover

My Kindertrauma: The Chocolate Touch

Covers for books and videos are like car accidents. They’re horrific but you can’t look away. In the video store, instead of looking for something in the family section like I ought to have been doing, I was wandering the horror section, scrutinizing the covers for movies I would never be allowed to watch. Movies like Basket Case, The Blob, The Nest.

Book covers were not that different. My mother had a ton of Stephen King books that rivaled the video store. One was a bizarre cover for Cujo that I could not wrap my head around. It was like an optical illusion where you see two images at the same time. In this era of high fidelity, now you can see the nose, the whiskers, the fangs of a large dog. But what I saw was eyes where the nostrils were. So I saw a weird gooey alien with a big mouth and a long skinny neck. Kind of like a poison cackler.

Anyway, I’m getting off topic. These are all things that were meant to scare you. What wasn’t meant to scare you was a children’s book. A “genie in a bottle” story about a kid who could turn anything his lips touched into chocolate. My grandmother had a copy of the book and before I was old enough to read it I would stare at this cover, analyzing every detail.

It’s a boy kissing his mother who is slowly turning into chocolate, presumably dying. Look at her eyes, how blank they are. Look at her mouth, hanging open. Like a chocolate zombie. This is the kind of stuff that belonged in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” or a V.C. Andrews novel.

At the time, I didn’t know this depicts the climax of the novel, where the main character, John Midas, realizes the punishment for his gluttony. His gift has ruined his friendships, ruined his appetite. His mother is inconsolably crying because she doesn’t know what’s going on. So he gives her a kiss accidentally, turning her into chocolate mom.

In the end, it’s a children’s book, so everything goes back to the way it was before. Lesson learned, vegetables eaten. And everyone is the wiser. But I didn’t know that at the time. I mean, would you think this is a fun whimsical novel about chocolate or a horror novel?

I also like the way the cat is just there staring, half wondering what’s going on, half not giving a fuck.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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