The Cap

cap

 

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

hornedear

 

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

email-29853_1280

 

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

furby-974922_960_720

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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The Gum(by)

gum-654238_960_720

 

Interview Transcript with Gumby

 

​ME:  Welcome to National Private Reactions.  This is your host, Rebecca, filling in for our chief editor.  He is on leave until further action is denied.   Joining us today is a very special television star from the 1950s: Gumby.

Gumby, it’s great to have you on the show with us this morning, can you tell us a little about your life as a TV star?

GUMBY:  I’d be happy to, Rebecca.  My story is one I’ve wanted to tell for a long time.

I was very satisfied when I began acting in the fifties.  I always wanted people to know my name. When I saw a chance for success, I ran with it.  I was introduced to some larger-than-life people in the business.  They molded me and many other characters into household names.  They also fed me very well.

ME: Food is definitely the spice of life for someone who’s a little on the bland side.  I understand you raised questions about your ‘boring’ appearance during the third season?

GUMBY:  I did, yes. I wanted a more Bohemian look, but the producer wasn’t hip to it. It was a different time back then.  Pokey was getting all the attention and I was starting to get depressed, you know?

ME: Yes.

GUMBY: It’s embarrassing at a certain point in your career to look over at your pony and see the girls going wild.  I never had any girls.  I’d get home, kick my feet off, and go to bed by 9.

ME: That must have been very difficult for you.  Pokey had a bit of a reputation, didn’t he?

GUMBY: Well, yes.  At the time I thought he was just having fun, but now I look back and see that maybe things weren’t all they were cracked up to be.

ME: How so?

GUMBY: He wasn’t very nice to those women.  Sometimes he’d make comments about their body or their size.  But then again, he did it to everyone, so who’s to say?

ME: Did he do it to you?

GUMBY: I guess if I really think about it, my eating disorder started around the time he began teasing me about my body type.

ME:  Is that why you eventually quit television?

GUMBY:  No. I ended up getting help for it, but not before I swallowed multiple sets.  I couldn’t stop.  It got to the point where I’d come into work and start angling for the couch on stage.  I was afraid they’d fire me when the cameras started missing.  It was hard.

ME:  Eating disorders aside, why did you quit show business, Gumby?

GUMBY:  It’s just a dirty business.  Too much attention to appearance.   Too many hours out of my life.  Too many Blockheads.

ME:  Thank you so much, for taking the time to be with us today, Gumby.  We’d love to have you back for our future segment titled: Those That Stick.

That’s all the time we have for today and please stay tuned for: Pondering Quietly.

 

Published:

https://www.scarletleafreview.com/short-stories9/rebecca-lee-interview-transcript-with-gumby

 

 

 

The Boombox

boom

Dear Listener,

There comes a time in everyone’s life where the past seems better than the present.  You get old, you get tired, you don’t feel like driving twenty minutes to work every single day and you start to think, remember that time when I was seventeen?

            No.  You don’t remember that time when you were seventeen.  You don’t remember when your best friend’s mom screamed at you for feeding her son pot out of a hollowed out apple.  You don’t remember how your stomach bulged out of the neon green spandex that you had to buy because Stacy Q. was beyond amazing.  You don’t remember the first time you went to a night club and danced until you accidentally elbowed the shy guy in the eye.

You remember Sublime.  You remember sitting stretched out in the back of your friend’s 1980’s Honda Accord while you dangled your arm out the window.  You remember the rainbow-colored beanie that you could have sworn were the colors of the Jamaican flag.  You remember that guy with the dreads who said you didn’t ever need to shampoo again just as long as you had Bees Wax.  You remember thinking you could keep riding in that car forever.

But thank God, you got out.  You no longer had to stay on your mom’s couch eating pizza Pringles and watching reruns of bad sitcoms.   You made it past abstinence-only education, dodgeball, and pregnant cheerleaders.

Now you just have to change the CD.

It was never Sublime.  It will never have been Sublime.  It’s been over 20 years and you hate pop reggae.

Signed,

Your Boombox

The Bracelet

brace

 

It’s hard to always sparkle. The constant gleaming reflection gets old. Who are those people who stare at me with the greedy eyes? As if stares were rich and darkness was poverty, I pretend I’m worth more than their pockets.

A man came up to me last week, trying to put me in a box. I would make his wife so happy. She would gasp, lovingly gazing into his eyes, and melt like the gold I am not.

“Only $6.00,” said the girl with platinum highlights. “Your lucky day!”

The men always pause, as if genuinely deciding, before moving on to another glass case. Another section of the store. Another store all together.

 

But I always sparkle for the girls. They point, specifically to my beauty, and slide me against their wrist. Hand in hand we decide in unison all the places we’ll dazzle together.

“Only $6.00,” the girl behind the counter doesn’t have to tell them they’re lucky. They pay with their last crumpled bill.

The Jelly Jar (reviewed)

pexels-photo-60540

As with all whimsical gifts in style this year, the Country Quaint Raspberry Jelly has rediscovered itself.  Once presumed to have only been found in plastic containers pushed to the far end of a pantry, this newly packaged gem has made ‘expired’ the new vintage.

Country Quaint Raspberry Jelly is stunningly sweet, if not fulfilling. Its fruity, yet familiar flavor is sure to prime you for a real southern breakfast on the farm.   The unpretentious taste of jelly can easily be paired with Jiff Peanutbutter, or, if concerned about the artificiality of processed Jiff, try Jiff-In-A-Glass-Jar.  For just four extra dollars, Country Quaint Raspberry Jelly can marry the taste of dreams in a style best suited for consumption.

If you’re concerned about what friends may think of your inability to cook, Country Quaint Designer Condiments may be the preferred choice for precious eaters.  All condiments (and their new line of vegan kitty litter) can be purchased at SoulFoods off I-93 Northbound, exit 13.