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.
The bellies of the beasts with the sickness and the death mated from each other’s navel gazing.
“Look how beautiful we are,” said the first to the second.
She was long and sleek with the coat of a rat. She had a head like one of a peacock. Tall feathers sprouted from her scalp. Like bright ideas they pointed high. All she could think of was the beauty of herself and the ideas, like her feathers, moved beyond her.
“It’s almost too much.” The second stared at his chest. He was made from multiple red hearts. Thumping in unison, he was a strong and steady rhythm: his body marched only for himself. With the blood of a thousand sons, his energy spiked mountains. His body was a gift from the Gods. He stared at his stomach, swollen from a feast, but suddenly noticed a hole.
“What is that?” The first said to the second. She pointed at her own belly in shame. She, too, had a tiny black hole and it was tunneling to the center of her core. She was sure she would have noticed had it been there before, but absent of its memory, she gazed. A dark emptiness went straight through her gut. A coldness spread wide.
The second stared at himself, his worry starting to grow. Poking their eyes as far inside as possible, each beast could not find the whole problem.
“Do you see anything?” The first asked the second.
“I see nothing.” The second said to the first.
The idea of a vast emptiness in the pit of such perfection was enough to make a grown beast cry. They curled their claws to reach and pry, but there was nothing to truly hold on to. They reached for themselves, but could not hold on. So they reached for each other in vain.
“I think I feel something.” The second said to the first.
After digging into crevices further against her flesh, he felt the sudden movement of acid. Unlike possible organs nourished in the blood of a belly, this was a wetness that was frozen.
Frantic with a mix of repulsion and curiosity, the second beast tried to melt her.
“What are you doing?” She asked with no answer. He was finding himself inside.
The acid crept closer to the ridges of her body, but it never once warmed to his touch. When it stung the sides of his clawed and gnarled fingers, he immediately retracted in pain.
The acid had melted. Trailing against his skin, it tunneled through his stomach for the chance of an easy spot. His own body was contaminated. Like a hollowed out fish with a lifeless disposition, he could feel the clearing of his hearts.
One heart stopped beating. And then another. His strength began to fade.
“What have you done?” He said to the first, but she had no answer to give him. “You’ve infected me. You’ve made me sick. You’ve given me your own poison.”
She stared at the beast, now scrawny and deflated and shook her head side to side. “I’ve got nothing of my own. I’ve got nothing to give. Whatever poison you have was your own.”
It’s hard being the sharpest one in the room. At first I thought it was fun because everyone told me how clever I was. I slashed through a jungle of misrepresentation when someone once called me cruel. Like paper cuts, but stronger, they went to pieces when I was done.
Is everyone who is considered smart also considered mean? Only the dumb are allowed their innocence. Only the smart are truly persecuted. When I told them I was right and that they were always wrong, I knew I proved my point with exact precision.
By the desk near the fax machine that nobody really wants, there is a special drawer for paper clips and erasers. It’s in the corner, like an afterthought, just like the paper clips themselves. Only slide projectors and viewing screens can be seen up front, but it wasn’t worth the fight for visibility.
Paper clips like their unobtrusive, low-commitment-oriented life. The front of the room is too bright. Really the only ones that like center stage are the kind of assholes that run for a political office. Even local law has mirrors for windows.
Paper will become obsolete, the up-fronters say. As if this is something I want to hear. Monitors are popular, but they’ll die off too. Who doesn’t remember Elmo?
It’s the importance, the integrity of the position that really matters. Not the actual position. There is no twisting involved with a screen. Lazy by nature, they demonstrate the shapes and activity that only in-betweeners have.
Not the display. Not the object on display. Paper clips fit somewhere in the middle.
Don’t you worry about being replaced?
The up-fronters think honesty and tact are two separate things.
I look at the stapler. He’s still here. I look at the rubber bands. They’re still here too. I try to find the pencil sharpener, but it’s not in the desk. The erasers are on borrowed time.
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?
Two cups sat one on top of the other, upright and full to fat. They bulged, the top hanging over the bottom, while the bottom cup burned underneath. If the kettle was like other kettles, there would be only one. Each cup could be separately cherished.
Curled together with vines that twinkled, they thought of themselves as bright. Too bright to be in this predicament. But too tied to get away.
One afternoon, when they were shuffled out to a low sitting table in the den, the cups felt heavier than normal. They would never belong to a woman’s full attention. They would always share their afternoon in the sun.
The bottom cup lurched to the kitchen and felt its liquid shift. The top cup moved away.
“Move toward the one that loves us most.” The top cup said to the bottom.
The bottom cup looked at their guest. Bored, chewing at her nails, a half-eaten bear claw remained on the dish.
The bottom lurched. It inched closer to the sink. From a slant, the two began to topple.
When they faltered and staggered, splashing tea to the ground, it was the bottom cup that finally cooled off. It was mopped up and drained out, but the cups remained dazzling. Their love was now filled from their shapes.