Finger-Lickin’ Good

I go on a quest to uncover the mystery of an unidentifiable fluid.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cover Image
By Celeste Hoo

“Bruh!” I bruhhed. “Part of my math worksheet is soaking wet AGAIN.”

Nobody in the class responded because I have no friends. I experimentally poked at the wet bottom right corner of my paper and looked at my finger. An unidentifiable fluid glistened on my fingertip.

“This is not water,” I said, prodding the paper. “I do not like unidentifiable fluids.”

The bell rang and I lingered behind, planning to bring this up to Mr. Sanders. When everyone else had left, I approached him, smelling his distinctive smell of grease. He was lost in thought, aggressively sucking on his fingers as he perused through a math textbook.

“Mr. Sanders? I was wondering if you knew why my worksheet was wet, by any chance?” I asked. Annoyed at being interrupted, he glanced up and looked me up and down, pulling his fingers out with a pop.

“Don’t ask me about what happens to YOUR papers,” Mr. Sanders retorted. He went back to looking at his textbook. “I’ve noticed things. When you drink water, some of it dribbles out the corner of your mouth. It probably got on your paper this time. It’s disgusting,” he said. I gaped as Mr. Sanders gave his finger a big lick and turned the page. As he flipped it, I noticed a new splotch appearing at the corner of the page.

I suddenly understood why so many of my math papers came to me wet in the corner. A wave of nausea and anger came over me and I quickly took a swig from my water bottle before speaking.

“It’s wet because you nasty!” I gurgled, water dribbling out of my mouth. “People usually lick their fingers just a bit to separate pages, but you? You slobber on your fingers! Don’t blame it on me!”

Mr. Sanders gawked at his wet fingers in surprise and then, after a pause, looked back at me.

He dropped to his knees and clung to my leg like a roach.

“I am so sorry,” he blubbered.

“Get off me!” I tried to shake him off but he latched on tighter.

“I used to work at a horrible fried chicken place as a cashier,” Mr. Sanders whimpered. “I experienced firsthand the horrors of fast food chain capitalism: I was coerced into overtime for less than minimum wage.”

“Less than $16? That’s crazy!”

“No, I got $45 an hour, it was less than the minimum wage I wanted. But those were long hours. I didn’t have much money—I lived paycheck to paycheck.”

“On $45 an hour.”

“Well, I invested in Boeing stock, and I’m facing the consequences, sue me. You’re focusing on the wrong thing here. The point is, I couldn’t afford anything to eat besides the scraps lying around the kitchen. So to savor the bits I did get to eat, I always sucked my fingers to get the last of it. Big boss booted me when he found me licking my fingers and then touching the chicken. Afterwards, I began working at Stuyvesant and I get paid less than the actual minimum wage. I regret it. I hate children but my contract is still on.”

Mr. Sanders suddenly became wistful and looked off into the distance.

Contract. Like when the doctor said I contracted a tapeworm infection from some of the chicken I ate off the floor at that place.” He became teary. “Oh, the memories!”

He broke down. I didn’t know what to do! I stuffed his finger back into his mouth like a pacifier. Mr. Sanders instantly calmed down.

“Erm. There, there,” I whispered, awkwardly patting his back.

“Ith wuth so finger-wickin’ good,” he said eepily.