Drinking hot chocolate in October.

     We shouldn’t be doing it. It’s not cold enough. Some days it scrapes past seventy degrees.

     But we drink it to remind ourselves.

     From the pantry we take out the packets, labelled with all sorts of different flavors that all somehow end up tasting the same once they’ve turned into the sweet concoction. Vanilla Mist. Maple Butter. The obligatory Pumpkin Spice. Weirder variants like Butternut Squash that are best saved for a future winter, but we have them anyway if only to grimace at their taste to remind ourselves how good the others are. Of course, there’s chocolate everything: milk, dark, semisweet, with all the cacao percentages—whatever those are supposed to mean—advertised in screaming letters on the packets as if laypeople like us actually care about them and understand what they mean.

     We take the packets and r-r-r-rip them open. A cocoa dust flies out into the air to give us a scent of what’s to come.

     But it is October, and it is too early to be drinking hot chocolate.

     We should exercise some self-control. Colder months will come, and we’ll curse ourselves on subzero blank January days when we check the pantry and find there’s no 55% Cacao Dark Chocolate Cocoa packets lying around between the giant-sized cereal boxes and the emergency soup supplies.

     But it’s October, and it’s too late not to start drinking hot chocolate.

     We guzzle it, sometimes almost burning out tongues before it’s had time to cool. We refuse to put marshmallows in it like weaker beings do. They have called us out of our minds for other things, and they put marshmallows in their hot chocolate.

     As the hot chocolate tumbles down our throat we feel our insides warm, and we reassure ourselves that the months ahead won’t be that cold, that long, that dark.

     Then there’s no cocoa left in the cup. Except the dregs. No one should drink them. We do anyway. They make us cough and gag. Afterwards, we tear open more packets.

     How can they be that into hot chocolate? someone somewhere would wonder if they could get inside our heads. It must be a symbol, an escape mechanism, a metaphor for something bigger and—

     No. We just like hot chocolate a lot. It’s October, and it’s time to drink it. There is nothing deeper to know. Unless there is. But we would know that. We should know that. If we didn’t, we would go out of our minds and sound like idiots obsessed with hot chocolate.