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Trick or Treat with Leslie Cairns

Year One, A very random day in October

Geocaching in a Candy Store

I turned my gut towards sours: gummy ones, and worms.

Before I worked there, my hands tending to sweetness, I’d only liked truffles, chocolate, dark & raspberry.

The aesthetic switched from rich milky graham crackers to sugary frogs

That slid down my tongue: green & tropical navel

Orange, and purple mixed with smiley-face smudged yellow.

I drowned my fingertips into the glass, reflecting light, mason jars of candy. My hands diving in

Like shallow water in Tennessee; all mine for wading unawares.

I could, for I was the sole employee. All through college, I was there, at a women-run candy shop.I paid myself out of the register, for they trusted me.

Chocolate dipped Oreos, drizzled with pieces of butterfinger, but I could eat the scraps, the batter ‘round the rim. The job I had when I was muzzled by my mother. When my hips caverned, for a time, near brimstone of

Boys’ desire. I’d slink with my book, and my Gilmore Girls DVDS, to the safety of the candy-coated mysteries.

The owners told me the best decades of their lives weren’t their 20s, and they meant it to be kind.

There were Wonka bars: graham and milk drizzled. I was in Alice & Wonderland that summer as my Mom sent my bags to the street. I was cast as the Cheshire Cat, always smiling, painted fuschia and stripes, like all the sweets surrounding me, waiting for me in the wings.

The only part that mattered, though, wasn’t my gummy frogs, my displayed hands, reaching towards the way my Mother wanted me fired.

No, it was the geocaching box, the treasure trove,

The people who walked in, meticulously, looking for

The clear end. The center of the truffle, the filling of caramel: all belonging. The owners laughing, handing me a lollipop, told me they put it in the bathroom

To be funny.

All those people –lovers even –

Storming the geocaching website, looking for an equation.

I walk ten steps, I get a treat. I take a little, I give a bit.

Only to realize they’d wandered into a candy store,

Their boots tracking in the moss, the lint, the tiny treasures

& they’d splurge on chocolates, donut patterned tote bags, on sugar that made your tongue turn razzle hues. They’d come in human, and leave with tongues

Tinged sea shapes,

Tear colors,

Electricity, faux raspberry, blue. If only it was that easy, to turn the mood

You wanted to.



Cream Cheese Stuffed Pinwheels


  • Pillsbury Dough (1 can)

  • Cream cheese (16 oz)

  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (2 cups)

  • roasted red peppers (canned or diced)

  • 1 jalapeno (diced)

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

  • Add pepperoni or buffalo chicken if you want a meat version!


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees

  2. Flatten dough from Pillsbury into one sheet, and get rid of all creases.

  3. Dice all vegetables.

  4. Put cream cheese in bowl (slightly melted - 5-10 seconds) and pour in cheddar cheese, red peppers, jalapeno. Fold in ingredients, do not mix.

  5. Spread cream cheese mixture onto dough, then roll the dough into a tube (vertically).

  6. Cut pinwheel shapes down the loaf. Spread apart on baking sheet and slightly press down to flatten.

  7. Sprinkle paprika on top.

  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops brown. Enjoy!


Ice Queen Interviews Leslie Cairns

Ice Queen: What made you submit to this Trick or Treat issue?

Leslie: I admire your magazine a lot, and also want to push myself to write more Halloween / food type writing. I also enjoy the competitive nature of these types of calls (in a kind way).

Ice Queen: Tell me about "Geocaching in a Candy Store."

Leslie: My piece is more me trying to write more "creepy" or Halloween pieces, since I am newer at it!

Ice Queen: Tell me about the recipe you chose, Cream Cheese Stuffed Pinwheels. What made you want to showcase that?

Leslie: The recipe is a big deal to me because I learned to cook later in life by families who let me live with them when I couldn't live at home. I learned to cook through the "mothers" that took me in. This recipe was one of the first that I made and showcased that people seemed to really enjoy, and made me feel like I could cook too. It's also great comfort side dish in fall and winter!

Ice Queen: What is your favorite family/personal recipe?

Leslie: One of the families I lived with made this amazing homemade mac and cheese. It involved Velveeta, mustard, and so many cheeses. Baking the top of it. So good.

Ice Queen: What is your relationship to food in your writing?

Leslie: Over time I am evolving. I once had anorexia and an eating disorder, so it went from hating food to feeling sort of empowered by it, to be honest.

Ice Queen: What do you love about food in writing?

Leslie: I love the fact that food draws us in, and everyone *does* have visceral memories associated with food. It brings those up, whether we want to or not. In that way, food haunts us, just like the theme of Halloween!

Ice Queen: Do you bake or cook a lot, and how/when did you get into it?

Leslie: I only got into it after college, but yes I like to cook. I don't cook super often or it's easy meals because it's just me and pets, but I love making a good cream cheese dip, quesadilla, or pasta dish.

Ice Queen: What are some of your favorite literary magazines?

Leslie: I recently started Heart Balm, and I am loving that (it's a lot to say my own, but I had to). I also love Renesme Literary (a newer magazine) because their calls are SO interesting, as well as Poetry As Promised and Healthline Magazine for their beautiful covers and artwork, in addition to the writing. Honeyguide Magazine as well because you can write about nature, and animals, and even talk about the destruction nature does as well.


Leslie Cairns (She/her) holds an MA degree in English Rhetoric. She lives in Denver, Colorado. She loves her two dogs, especially the dramatics of her husky. She has upcoming flash, short stories, and poetry in various magazines, including Cerasus Magazine, Coffeezine Mag, Swim Press, Bright Flash Literary Review, Londemere Lit, and others. Find her on Twitter @starbucksgirly.

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