The Box

read me

 

I swallowed a secret a million years before numbers, so that nothing could be held accountable.

Scrolled up, jotted down, and shoved to the back of a bottle, the message was almost drowned.

Let me out! Let me out!  A pocketed paper screamed from below.

But when pulled up and rolled out, the ink had smeared rows.

Neither black, nor white, with no crisp lines to write on,

the page merged gray in conviction.

“But what was the secret?”

The question in question has stopped being questioned.

The message was found irresponsible.

The Pierogi

pierogi

 

She’ll always love me.  She’ll always love me because she picks me first.

I see her come in from the wind and cold, her hair clumped in an odd arrangement of hairspray.  Ear phones jammed as far inside her ears as possible.  She is oblivious to everything except hunger.

She walks inside, scanning the aisles of the market with her life’s soundtrack following every step.  Grapefruit? Too sour.  Organic Sugar? Too pretentious. It’s a Bittersweet Symphony playing on repeat.

Nobody used to pick me.  I stayed in the back of the freezer, hoping a fat Polish woman might see me and exclaim, “Supper!”   

Day after day the market manager moved me to different areas of the store.  First I was next to the pizzas.  Surely someone would pick me if I was associated with something fast and cheap. I stared across the aisle, focusing intensely on the Leanfast bars.  A woman in a bikini with dyed blond hair and a spray tan devoured the chocolate seductively.  I was definitely in the wrong position.

Next, the market manager moved me to the ice cream section.  I tried to be cool and aloof, like one of those anorexic French women who thought hunger itself was a sign of shameless need. No one was biting.

At last, they stuck me with the vegetables where all good food goes to die.

But then she came.

I could tell she was of the boring variety by the absence of color in her wardrobe and the way she chatted with primarily women over sixty-five.

“Don’t bother with those batteries,” she pointed to a shelf full of Duracell’s while an older woman scratched her head. “They may be on sale, but they’re never as good as the Energizers.”

After moving on from the batteries, she scanned the fruits.  Too tart.

She scanned the pizza.  Too greasy.

She scanned the vegetables and shook her head with obvious disappointment.

And then she saw me.

“Pierogi!” She said with glee. “I’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

Gum

sweets-1571588_1920

Well, gum, here you are again.

I know.

How do you always get stuck in these situations?

I don’t know.

You think you would learn.  Last time it was the boy with wolf teeth.  Before that, just dentures.

You think I’d learn.

But you don’t.  You never learn.

Maybe we should continue to talk about it and I will remember next time.

But that’s what we did last time.

I know. I’m not as slick as I’d hoped.

The Dress

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Soft colors of a thin fabric always hide first.

Do they bleed through to the back? Or do they stick stuck to the middle?

Inked on the inside of an empty dress, printed patterns collide.

They struggle against the wrinkles. They relax against the formed.

Curled into coarseness, they gently fold backward.

 

 

The Wood Stove

woodstove.jpg_large

I once had a fire in me that could not be contained. I knew no boundaries. I knew no limits. I knew only of energy that burned.

There were no rules. I could go anywhere. Through the mountains. Into the forest. Past the villages and under the leaves. I could spark interest in anything.

People talked and my flames became more vibrant from conversation. “Did you see the scarlet colors?” “Did you feel the warm glow?” I was a thing of dangerous beauty that I thought could only beam brighter.

But then one day I burned the earth. I wasn’t paying attention. I turned to radiate my astonishing brilliance, but the grass had already died. I fled to the trees to show them my passion, but they had already bent over backwards in ruins with dissatisfaction. I turned to the towns, to the cities, to the houses of my comfort, but they had crumbled gray, like an eraser.

I ran to the edge of the earth and straight for the ocean.

“You have nowhere else to go,” the waves taunted.

I turned around. A few miles away, stood one small cabin that I had previously overlooked. Cautiously. Carefully. Slowly I approached its window.

Inside the one room cabin, there was a wood stove, fat and dusty with age.

From outside I shouted, “I have burned everything. I have nowhere else to go.”

Immediately, the wood stove opened up its door.

“Thank God you’re here. I’ve been waiting for so long.”

 

The Phone

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 Disconnected

 

1:23 PM Cute Teacher: Hi Peter – I hope this is the right number. I wanted to say again, how nice it was to speak with you at the PTA meeting. I think, however, I’m going to pass on dinner until your daughter is no longer in my class.

 

 

1:23 PM: I understand completely. I hope I wasn’t too forward.

 

 

1:24 PM Cute Teacher: No, not at all. I’m concerned about your daughter though.

 

 

1:25 PM: What’s wrong?

 

 

1:25 PM Cute Teacher: She has been picking at her nails.

 

 

1:26 PM: LOL Most little kids pick at their nails.

 

 

1:26 PM Cute Teacher: No – She picks at them until all her fingers are bloody.

 

 

1:30 PM Cute Teacher: I know you’re going through a tough divorce, does she have anyone to talk to?

 

 

1:32 PM: There’s nothing to talk about.

 

_

 

2:46 PM 1-434-896-3389: Mom! I can’t believe it! I’m about to get on the plane, but I wanted to tell you before it hit Facebook: Jason proposed to me!!!

 

 

2:47 PM 1-434-896-3389: Ooops, I’m sorry! I think I texted the wrong #.

 

 

2:49 PM: You did, but congratulations!

 

 

2:50 PM 1-434-896-3389: Thanks!!!

 

 

2:51 PM: Don’t listen to what they tell you.  I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for 24 years. Best decision I ever made.

 

 

2:51 PM 1-434-896-3389: That’s so sweet!!! How do you guys do it?

 

 

3:04 PM: A lot of  divorced couples will tell you that marriage is just a lot of work. It ‘s always wonderful between my wife and I though. When you love someone that much, you never contemplate splitting up.

 

 

3:05PM 1-434-896-3389: Did you ever fight about the future?

 

 

3:10PM: Never. Love grows with family.

 

 

3:11PM 1-434-896-3389: I know what you mean. Our family will never be broken.

 

 

The Blue Blanket

blankete

There once was a dark blue blanket that sat on the edge of a little girl’s bed. The blanket was so soft it felt as if a thousand kittens had died just for its existence. The little girl had begged for the blanket until finally her parents gave in.

As soon as the blanket was purchased, the little girl refused to let go of its comfort. Every day she carried the blanket to school, wrapping herself tightly while on the bus. She walked with the blanket. She played with the blanket. She even ate dinner with the blanket. At last, when she had retreated from life too much, her father threw the blanket into a basket and put it in front of the house for their annual yard sale. “It’s become a crutch and you’re not as strong because of it,” he answered when the little girl pleaded for him to reconsider.

The blanket was found by a childless couple who had been together for a very long time. It was folded neatly into a perfect square with a couple of threadbare pillows and a heating pad. The wife immediately took it out of the basket and with great exclamation declared that this would be her new blanket. It was large enough to cover her California king sized bed and hide the ugly orange comforter her husband had gotten her ten years prior.

She bought the blanket for only a dollar. “Why so little?” She asked the man behind the cash box. “Things that are too delicate rarely last,” he smiled.

But it was delicate because it was good, she thought. She dumped the blanket onto her bed and smoothed out its wrinkles. It covered every ugly blemish on the antique puff. Its fabric was like heaven to her fingers and she thought of how she could spend her mornings lounging in it with a cup of coffee and the paper.

But as soon as she pressed her palms against the softness, the fabric ripped. Not a wide rip, but a small one at the edges.

No one will notice, she thought to herself.

Her husband came home later that day and was surprised to see the blanket covering their bed. “It’s so soft,” he rubbed his fingers against the material. As he got into the bed later that night, he pulled the covers up to his chin and tucked the blanket neatly under his beard. Although not as warm as the comforter, there was something about the fabric that tickled him. He pulled the blanket closer to him and when his wife did not give up her portion, he pulled harder. The softness did not stretch.

Instantly another rip creaked at the edges.

All night the couple fought over the blanket until its material had so many tiny rips, they couldn’t possibly justify salvaging it.

“What do we do?” The husband looked down at the blanket.

Suddenly, the wife remembered the man from the yard sale. “We have to throw it out.” She said. “It was just too soft.”

http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2013/10/14/simon-says-toughen-up/