Buridan’s Ice Cream

Brianna’s mother led her through the grocery store, dodging in and out of aisles and displays. Her shopping cart grew crowded and full. Brianna watched as her mother grabbed a gallon of milk and added it to the cart. Her mother turned to her and pointed to the one empty spot in the cart.

“You want to pick something out?”

Brianna nodded.

“Alright. Go pick out some ice cream and meet me up at the checkout counter. Pick something good!”

Brianna’s mother pushed the cart toward the front of the store. Brianna watched her disappear.

Brianna wandered past the meat section, the dessert section, the dairy department, and the bakery. She wandered to the frozen cabinets of ice cream, stacked and poised, like a library of desserts. She opened the freezer door. Coils of icy vapor billowed and rose. The plethora of flavors presented themselves to her, vying like rivals for her attention.

Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry. Those were good ones, but she always got those. Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Salted Caramel, Mint Chocolate Chip. Those were good, too. Candy Bar, Chocolate Chunk, Cherry Surprise, Banana Pudding, Birthday Cake, Peanut Brittle, Brownie, Cotton Candy, S’mores, Peanut Butter Cup. She sorted through them, one by one, reaching through the vapor and into the frozen shelf, grabbing a container, turning it around and reading the sugary ingredients.

The aisle grew colder and colder, and Brianna shivered and let go of the carton of Banana Split ice cream. Her teeth chattered and the door slammed shut. She took a step back, with indecision hesitance, and hugged her arms close to her body. Her eyes wandered to the surrounding shelves, and grew wide against the cold air. She took a step back, overwhelmed by the endless possibility of choices.

Berry Blast, Apple Pie, Pecan Crunch, Rocky Road, Mocha Fudge, Cinnamon, Waffle Cone, Peach Cobbler, Pineapple, Cherry Almond, Pistachio, Orange Sherbet, Cappuccino, Lemon Meringue, and —


She tore her eyes away from the icy shelves and glanced down the aisle. Her mother ran toward her.

“Brianna. What’s going on? I’ve already checked out. Come on!”

“But I haven’t chosen one yet.”

“Well, maybe we’ll get one next time. You missed your chance, sweetie.”

She grabbed Brianna’s cold hands, and led her away.