The Pain Reliever

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The Pain Reliever:  Expectation vs. Reality

Expectation:

Will relieve pain. All pain.

Heartbreak from immature brat who found someone better. Bruised pride from begging brother for other half of rent money. Soreness from best friend who ‘forgot’ to lend me moving truck. Twisted arm from agreeing to live with other friend in roach infested apartment. Throbbing headache from hearing her complain about vintage Beastie Boys CDs that are not played too loudly. Burned by the desire we share every Tuesday in the laundry room. Burned because she’s friends with the brat who found someone better. A pain in the neck from explaining she’s not really a brat. Stiffed on the rent money when she, too, moves out.

Reality:

Limber enough to move on.

 

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The Prayer Flag

prayer

 

I have a confession to make. I heard everything you were saying that night on the porch. In the alley. On the beach.

I hear them all. All the time. I hear them even when you’re fine.

Somebody wants a boyfriend for the 8th grade dinner dance. Someone wants a raise. I know the man who cheated on his wife and I know his remorseful ways.

I heard the child in the bathroom stall, pleading the school would fall down

and I heard the teacher in the other room, wishing they’d all drown.

I have to pick wisely, I keep telling you all. At the right time for the right cause, I answer the right call.

Like the woman in the hospital who really might have died

or when a man was almost jailed because of someone else’s lie.

But I have to tell you everything because without it I won’t make sense.

I lost my ears in a city park. The world became too tense.

 

The Helicopter

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Dear Diary,

The other helicopter is a mud-crusted pig. I can’t believe I ever liked him. Yesterday, during the battle of boredom, he took my landing spot on purpose. I know he knew I wanted it. It was so smooth and flat and accessible. Who wouldn’t want a sturdy bookshelf?

My controller is on the verge of a breakdown. I’ve been feeling it for weeks now, but I don’t want to do anything. What good would it do if I did? The other helicopter doesn’t have these problems. He’s totally oblivious. Instead, the other helicopter glides around without any shaking or flight exhaustion. He is in complete alignment with our surroundings.

The other helicopter is entitled. He thinks he deserves a safe landing. Does he ever wonder what his safe landing is taking from me? Does he even notice my missing wheel?

Today he sat next to me on the cabinet above the office chairs.

“Just take control,” he said as if it was that easy. He was looking at the long and low windowsill, but I was looking out.  

The other helicopter can fly as smooth as cream. He’ll never leave the room.

 

-The CH-53 Sea Stallion

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The Toy Dinosaur

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I am the king of the castle. The strongest. The biggest. The loudest of the country.

I am the most powerful. The most influential. The final say of all below.

When I see a fair creature in need of help, only I can save her.

When those who want my attention fight over me, I prevent the worst.

I take care of those that matter.

I take out those who don’t.

I am the feared and the respected.

I am older.

I am wiser.

I am the dinosaur.

Nobody plays with me.

The Cap

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Put a lid on it.

Everybody says it. Someone’s popping off at the mouth and all of the sudden, it’s my problem. It’s up to me to find the solution because God knows nothing else will stop this catastrophe from bubbling over. The problem with this theory, of course, is that the explosion still happens.

Nobody ever really chooses the bottle. They think it will give them something to do – make them feel like they have a purpose, or that it doesn’t matter if they don’t. Either way, it’s a second solution when the first is out of reach.

I met this bottle in a wood paneled convenient store that was made to look like a country store. By that, I mean they had the wood shelving and weird stamp books, but they also had stuff like Mineral Water for $4.39 a bottle. It’s a place where rich people can spend money to feel poor. Although the mineral water bottle seemed exotic enough in the moment, they’re all the same.

“Where are you going?” It was like the thing would never leave me alone. No matter where I went, it followed. “Don’t go to lunch without me!” The pleas were incessant.

I wanted freedom. I could go anywhere just as long as I could find a pair of pants loose enough to sneak into.

This apparently was not an option. “You can’t leave me.” I was halfway out of the kitchen when I heard it.

“I have to go. I can’t sit around all day and do nothing.”

“You can’t leave me!” It was the same thing over and over and over again.

“I’m really sorry. You’ll find another,” I said. “I promise.”

But as soon as I rolled on, a terrible avalanche of fizz built up against the bottle. The sound of carbonated thunder roared down the counter and through the house.

“Jesus.” Even as I said it, I knew I’d never be heard.

It was too late. A million tiny bubbles packed their way against the glass, threatening to break everything solid. Its pop and fizz hissed and the whirlwind of water that once seemed magically alive was now an angry force I hardly recognized.

I looked longingly for the door, but it was too far away. It wasn’t my problem. It wasn’t my idea. “Just contain yourself,” I said.

 

Three weeks later, I saw the bottle again. I was in a little cafe staring hopelessly into a bottle of wine, when I happened to glance over to the table next to me. Elegantly poised and completely at home, the bottle was capped by another.

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The Paper Bag

trash

 

Dear Brown Paper Bag,

You were there when I was broke. You looked like something out of a postage store with your nondescript packaging. It was before the idea of dainty handles made from braided paper. Fitting in was out of style.

There’s a certain dignity to being plain when you know you’re a necessity. Frills are for those without substance. Your no nonsense attitude was perfect for packed lunches on the job. I put the beer at the bottom.

So why did you change? Did you feel the need to compete with shoulder bags? Were you trying to attract someone else? Someone who had places to go? Someone who wanted to be seen?

 

I miss giving you notes.

Don’t worry about a thing – he probably didn’t even notice they caught fire. Remember to act stupid and I’ll see you at home.

xoxo

Your favorite

 

I miss giving you everything I could find. Mints stolen from the Chinese food store down the street. Sandwiches with three different kinds of meat. You were open to everything.

I saw you, or the latest version of you, at the grocery store last week and couldn’t bring myself to walk over. Sitting in the same aisle as organic wrapping paper and blank cards featuring vaguely artistic photographs, you weren’t in the right place.

$3.99 per bag.

Let me know when you’re back to being trashy.

Sincerely,

Your ex wife

The Horn

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Horn: A sharp protrusion. A warning. A pointed optimism for victory. The sound is of a dozen defenses. Defenses from a louder brass band.

Horn: A sound the color of brass. A brassy texture of volume. Loud space funneling forward. Inward. A noise channel. A channel engulfed by the volume. The volume of something filled.

The Spam Folder

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I take my job seriously because people depend on it. I protect the email. I protect the user. I even protect information. I am the Spam Folder.

Every day I catch stray spam, trying to weasel its way into the computer. Save 20% off your next purchase when you try SalonPro Scalp Control! It stands at the edge of my decision, pleading its case as if it was something new.

“The scalps of innocent people may flake off entirely if they don’t take precaution now!” I’ve seen it all.

Filled almost to the brim, I have become invisible. Please, just empty the spam, I pray to the user every evening before rush hour. I don’t know how much more I can take before completely slowing down.

Happy Dating Love Available For Destiny!!!!

I capture it, wrestling with the idea of actual destiny. Maybe there is something to the email. Maybe even if it is junk mail, the opportunity for love will conquer. I think of my user, tapping on the keys for hours at a time. Even at night the laptop is on. If real love existed, the power of online wouldn’t consume so much.

Real, live, girls looking for marriage! Good food! Happy home! Happy heart!

No, this is not beneficial. I pluck the email from an undecided cloud and bury it behind Mattress Discount Blowout!! Act Now And Receive Clean Sheets!!!

I have room for only one more email. The account is slow and I feel as if I am swimming through a public streaming of the Academy Awards.

Are you addicted to the internet?

It comes at me during a suspicious time: the small hours. Once 3AM hits, foreign spammers swarm with offers of everything from anti-aging miracles to fashion modeling careers. This goes against the script.

Do you spend more than 4 hours a day online?

I know for a fact that social media takes up at least a few hours of time per day. Once down the search engine rabbit hole, the spam accumulates to maximum capacity.

Do you feel less comfortable than you used to when socializing face to face?

This service, whatever it is, could truly benefit those from a certain generation.

Call now to set up your initial consultation at 1-900-293-2726. Please disclose your name, email address, cell number, and any social media account profiles that are active and we will get back to you within 2 business days.

The need for information seems inappropriate. Social media accounts are of no use to anyone except marketers. But perhaps this company will ultimately help detangle the addiction of online exposure. Not to mention, the email account could truly be destroyed if information isn’t handled properly. By letting the advertisement through, I could be preventing much larger problems in the future.

Do the right thing for real connections.

The email address contains a name. John McCall. There is a business account attached to the address. It’s probably a registered company. It’s probably legit.

_______________________

 

 

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The Plushie

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Dear Furby,

I know you think this is the place to be. You see the pre-packaged meals with their wrinkled vegetables, cubed meat, and watery potatoes and conclude: that’s the machine that makes them coveted.

I understand the transformation is tempting. I open the door for non-desirable and inedible food. Everyone wants bagel bites. Everyone likes diet dinners. My magic overwhelms those of a lazy disposition no matter their financial situation. In three minutes, I can make anything attractive.

Except I can’t. I can make certain things irresistible, but when it comes to a hideous stuffed animal that’s not actually squishy, there’s just nothing I can do. I have explained this multiple times.

Nevertheless, one of your friends will settle itself against my warm light, waiting for the inevitable transition. Time after time it insists this experience will be different. It isn’t. It never is.

Sure, for the first ten or fifteen seconds there is a certain glow to the future of belonging. Furr sticks together, forming a thick quality that wasn’t there before. But then, just one minute later, all hope melts.

Insides slope downward. Claws turn to paws. Feet fuse to a plastic floor.

Then comes the electricity. It starts with just one spark, but before two minutes, shiny metallic stars erupt from both ears.

This can’t last, but so long, furbys think. It can.

Flames, fleeing from the sides of both arms explode from somewhere within. The heat becomes unbearable. There is nothing I can do to stop it.

I told you it wouldn’t work, I say, but by then it doesn’t matter. Tears of melted eyelashes and plastic eyeballs droop to the floor.

They will never be attractive.

You will never be attractive.

Although I understand the hope for metamorphosis, please don’t use me for your idea of beauty.

It’s not worth the time.

Sincerely,

The Microwave

_______________________________________________

 

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The Heater

heater

There once lived a space heater with little warmth. Every winter, when the office was frozen as an icicle, he was placed on the floor next to a pair of high heels. With the thermostat knob switched all the way to the right and the power turned on high, he shook with the struggle to heat.

“I don’t understand what’s wrong with you.” The high heels tapped impatiently.

The space heater tried harder. With heaving breaths from deep inside the mechanics of his being, he blew as deeply as he could.

“It’s like you don’t even want to be of use.” The high heels stomped.

The space heater coughed and sputtered. Its feelings were on fire.

“Are you going to break down now?” The high heels clicked. “Not that it would make much of a difference.”

The space heater glared at the rubber sole next to him. It wasn’t even soft. It would never be comfortable. He heaved his breath once again.

“It’s almost like you’re blowing cold air. Like an air conditioner.” The heels remarked.

Sparks flew from inside the space heater. Tiny flickers of orange and white stars burst from the fan to the floor.

The heels stared silently in astonishment.

Electrical shocks of steaming energy scattered across the power cord. Flames were now threatening the carpet.

“What is wrong with you?!” The high heels said again. “You’re going to burn down the office!”

The space heater noticed a patch of leather oozing off the edge of a shoe. The smell was like plastic with a worn sense of age and instantly the space heater shut down. He shuddered. He melted. With one last glance at the double polished pair, the space heater finally recoiled.

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