There was once a ring, more beautiful than the rest, that only existed in parts.
There was the rough and rigid: all angles too sharp. There was the round-and-round: too comfortable to shine. Then there were the supports. Necessary to withstand hard weather, but nothing to hold on to forever.
When one part married the other, the angles clicked into lines. Projected onto the walls around it shards of light formed blinking. Once closed. Now open. A wink and a nod to the living.
I know I don’t know you super well, but I always liked bumping into you. You were kind of like a staple. I want to say you had a mint green sign with block letters, but I could be wrong. Mint green just seems to fit. Not because it’s cheap, I didn’t mean that. It’s fresh. Like something new and today.
Maybe it wasn’t green. You were more like a “basics” store, but not like “basic” basic. You were the one moms went to when their kids needed a portable basketball hoop. I think you also sold lawnmowers?
When I heard you were closing, all I could think about were those catalogues with the points so that the more you bought, the more you saved. I think there was a point system for Marlboros too, but that definitely wasn’t as wholesome.
In the early days, back before flat screens, did you sell Betamax? Most people don’t like videos anymore, I sell them as vintage collectors items. They aren’t actually showcased. People have to know about them to buy one.
It’s a shame we didn’t connect. I remember the deluxe patio set with the grill and spatula sold together. You had the cardboard cutouts of two women grilling in fake grass. I think there was a beach ball behind them and a set of melmac. That was so you. Am I right?
My friend gave it to me 18 years ago and it hasn’t failed me once.
The songs cannot be organized into folders and are listed in alphabetical order. The Chemical Brothers and one Mazzy Star song came preloaded as a surprise. I’ve heard them too many times now, but I can’t ever seem to delete them. Like that one Rick Astley song that was once a daily joke, these are the voices committed to memory.
People sometimes ask me if I plan on getting an ipod. Or using a smartphone. Or upgrading to a newer model. But if it works, it works.
How he wound up on the floor was not a mystery. Things had always started off this way. For him, his father, and his father’s father.
Some creatures were made for the bottom.
Unlike the other mice, this one only slunk. While not particularly graceful, he hid with his body in a dwelling of artificial shoulders until he could feel somewhat safe.
The space between the cabinet and the dishwasher.
The shadow behind a fake plant.
The hole in the fabric of the living room chair.
He didn’t have to move quickly as long as he was covered so he never bothered looking for more space.
The living room was the same as all living rooms. Two couches and a table between. An ominous fireplace the cat sometimes sat in was always unused during the spring.
The kitchen was also the same. Other mice took refuge under the fridge, but the cat always found them. There was no reason to go out; the fear was too great. Cracks streaked the underside of Ikea shelving. The mouse preferred to stay in.
One day the house was quiet. No NPR. No pitter patter of paws. Just to see what the rest of the house looked like, the mouse struck out on his own. So brave he was, the other mice were shocked. So bold and dashing and handsome.
All at once he ran for the shelving and darted outside the chair. Through the kitchen and down the hallway he turned to the smooth black tiling. He had made it as far as the bathroom when he felt his body grow larger. Puffed out fur made him light as popcorn. The mouse was at last, unafraid.
From the middle of nowhere, he didn’t even hear it, he just felt the world flop over. Cadbelly, the odious white cat with one working eye, had batted him hard to the ground. His feet pointed upward with the smile on his face and he knew his anxiety was over.
There was once just one. A long skinny line strung up in the sky carried voices. So many tunneled in. It seemed there should be two.
Two lines of communication running parallel could do the trick. One could carry half the load. The other, the other.
One kept quiet. When the other wondered about their share of the conversation, whatever was said remained silent.
Inside the telephone wire there were people with problems. Casserole recipes. Questions about estrogen. Their friend. Their friends. Their other friend’s friends. All day both lines heard the frequent chatter of others.
“As big as a watermelon.” One voice recounted.
“Babies are too fat these days.” Throughout time they transferred information to each other.
But the wires were quiet. Side by side they did not intersect. This was because one was the other. And the other was the other just the same.
I want to be just like the other two. This is my dream. When I close my eyes and see who I really am, I know I’m exactly like them.
I really am just like the other two. We’re the same color. We have the same movements. I just haven’t clicked on for awhile.
Once I click on, I know we’ll be the same. It just takes a certain Je ne sais quoi. Once I click on, I’ll have the same light. We’ll all beam brightly together.
I would be just like the other two if I could figure out the switch. It was once turned on, I swear. One of them said I was so much brighter. The other one didn’t say a thing. If I could just remember how to press the right button, we’d literally all be the same.
I heard one of them say to the other that our room was a complete dump. I asked why, but they said I wouldn’t get it. I thought about asking again later on, but I’m glad I can’t see what they know.