The Doll

Photograph by Dan Schleifer

The Doll

Age: Ambiguous

Sex: Maybe

Location: Your grandfather’s attic

Best Song: Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell

Looking For: You, obviously. I don’t know what happened or why I’m here, but this whole thing is really messed up. I take back everything I said about American Girl Dolls. Just come and get me. 

Dream Date: I was going to say something dumb and ironic like a long walk on the beach, but really – that would be great right now. 

Best Memory: I was riding my bike through South Africa with the wind in my hair. That was also my last memory. Really any memories besides this one are cool with me. You like cheeseburgers, right? Do you want to get a cheeseburger? Or maybe some clothes. I love clothes.

Pets? Teddy can stay here.  

Ideal Look: I don’t know what you were wearing when we broke up, but honestly even if you shaved your head and lost sixty pounds I’m cool with it as long as you show up. Seriously. I won’t even talk about your grandfather. 

Favorite Hobbies: I’d like it if you ran. 

The Gift

gifted children in the United States

Is My Child Gifted?

Many parents with exceptionally talented children wonder if their child may actually be gifted. Since there is no official diagnosis, gifted children can vary in their abilities. Any child can be gifted for a fee, but there is no guarantee they will be received well. 

What Does It Mean To Be Gifted?

According to the National Association for Gifted Children, children are considered gifted when their ability is significantly above normal range. According to the Post Office Association, a child is considered gifted when they reach the front door of any house, apartment or place of residence.  

They do not need to be gifted in one particular specialty such as math or science. They can be gifted in multiple areas of interest including Alaska, Iowa and the IGA. Florida is off limits. 

Common Traits of A Gifted Child

All children are unique in their own way, but some are more distinct than others.  Two specific traits are often seen in many gifted children.

  1. ) A developed sensitivity. Certain children are sensitive. This can be a sign of a gifted child or something else. Many gifted children who excel at math and science are often bothered by loud noises or certain fabric. Children who are gifted must be wrapped in non-styrofoam peanuts for the majority of their transition. Upon arrival, crushed velvet is preferred.  
  2. ) Puzzle play. Abstract thinking that involves complex problem solving abilities can be seen in the early development of gifted children. Gifted children may have been subjected to confined spaces and complex postal systems. This may be particularly disturbing during the holiday season. Many gifted children prefer to find a way out as soon as they are gifted.  

Early Testing

Parents can and should opt for testing. If you suspect your child is gifted, they may seem strange and out of place. To better detect any possible diseases, fleas or emotional disturbance, testing is recommended for any child that thinks outside the box. 

To purchase my book, Object Relations, click here.

The Razor

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.

The Pain Reliever

Expectation:

Will relieve pain. All pain.

Heartbreak from immature brat who found someone better. Bruised pride from begging Jayson to cover her rent. Soreness from best friend who ‘could’t’ let me crash with him. 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.

Headache gone.

The Paper Clips

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. 

The Mall

Dear Sears,

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?

  • Belk 

The Server

Name: Server

Interested in: User

About Me: I grew up all over the world. Did you live in Texas? Bulgaria? Wherever you are, I can be there. 

I am extremely loyal, outgoing and trustworthy. Some of my friends describe me as having a secure presence. Do you like security? I like security. But if you don’t like security, I’m cool with that too. I live for the energy of others.

My Ideal Date: Someone who knows what they want. Or what they don’t want. Either way, I’m totally flexible. I don’t want to play games just to figure out who you are. But if you like games, that’s also cool. Whatever you want, really.

I’m straightforward and optimistic. Most people think I’d make a great partner. Are you interested in a strong connection?  If not, it’s alright. But if you are, I can be as intense as you want.

I like a person that’s fully available. I’m available 24/7. If you need me, I need you. Just tell me where and when.

Favorite Book: The Missing Link by Brandon Meyers

Favorite Song: I would die 4 U by Prince

Three Things I Can’t Live Without:

  • Direction
  • A strong connection
  • You

If you’re interested in messaging me, know that I will always get back to you. My response time is immediate. 

Check out my book, Object Relations, for more stories.

The Kiva

Deep in the desert, it almost looked dead. Beige dirt and tufts of bushes were all the eye could see. But below the eyes and below the brush, mutated life still lived.

The best mutant, a tiny rodent-like piece of fur with lizard eyes and a sandpapered beak, tried to make itself invisible. 

Nobody will see me under the brush. 

The mutant curled closer to the roots. In the daytime this worked well and he could watch the others scatter as they pretended not to be scared.

There were big ones. The size of basketballs with rubbery mouths and black tongues. There were tiny ones. Insects with 9 legs and a limp. All of them to be carefully avoided.

At night it was cold. Freezing winds and chattering teeth, the mutant needed a break. Any break. A hole in the wall of a cabin. The inside of a hanging cliff. He knew there was nothing available.

In the distance there was smoke and the round mouth of stucco. An outdoor fireplace. A bellow of gray. A kiva. 

You can use me to keep you warm.

The kiva said.

I have a fire in my mouth that won’t go out. Sit, stay awhile. It will be fun.

The kiva said.

The fire didn’t look out of control. The warm glow from inside reminded the mutant of a perfectly proportioned potato, but with spark. He’d heard of the fires before, untamed and spreading throughout the brush. This was not half of that. 

You’ve come such a long way. 

The kiva said.

But then the mutant remembered the skulls. Wide, gaping mouths hollowed out as if they were screaming. They were littered throughout the desert. Some were cows. Some were undefinable. The distinct smell of char lingered.

You must be tired.

The kiva said.

The mutant noticed a few dead mice at the corner of the building. Their mouths, too, were open. Gray mice. They were not black. Not charred. They must have died from something else.

The mutant shivered.

What will you do without warmth in the night?

The kiva asked.

The mutant could not find an answer. He saw nobody else like him for miles. Except for the one possibility of another who had been ripped by something else. A simple beak stuck out of several weeds. It could have been trash. It could have been plastic.

I don’t know.

The mutant said.

I really don’t know.

The kiva illuminated the desert with one bright smile. Mutants scurried in the wind. Bigger mutants. Prickly puckered mutants with six furry legs and giant yellow teeth. They would eat him. Without a doubt. For dinner.

Why not just stay here? You can get warm and figure out something else for tomorrow. 

The kiva said.

Climbing up the brown structure, the flames flickered higher. 

Just on the edge, the mutant thought. I’ll just sit right on the edge.

In the corner space of the mouth, the mutant sat on its ledge.
It was warm.

He was happy.

There was nothing else to be said. 

The Button

“Like” used to be more optimistic. It was happy with high school reunions, weddings, and job interviews. Nestled at the bottom of something grandiose, it was a humble smile. A thumbs up for success.

“Like” made its way through family albums, 18th birthday parties, and dinners with old friends from college. “Like” was there for the video of your friend playing with the lobsters before supper. It was a funny gesture, something admirable. “Like” valued this.

But then “Like” became popular. “Like” hung out with girls in stilettos. “Like” went to see My Morning Jacket in an abandoned warehouse. “Like” started focusing on other people’s boyfriends.

Everyone wanted a Like for their party. That smiling selfie you took, gazing up at a cell phone camera with newly applied makeup? That was liked. A filter with cat eyes and pointy ears? “Like” enjoyed the stalking.

“Like” showed up to all the biggest parties.

The Halloween bash where your friend threw up all over the backseat of your mom’s car? That party was liked. The obituary of a distant relative that was met more than once? That was liked too.

“Like” became snarky. Hard edged thumbs felt more like middle fingers. That trip to Nantucket? Liked after three days. Kids dressed as NPR hosts for a costume party? Liked at 1AM.

After years of polite smiles and bouncy enthusiasm, “Like” had finally met its match.

Dislike was approaching the horizon.