The Gold

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“I don’t do sparkles.”

“You don’t have to if I’m there.”

“That’s not what I mean.”

“Everybody needs shine in their life.”

“It’s better to be bright.”

“That’s enough.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m sick of this.”

“What ‘this’?”

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“Don’t talk to me like that.”

“Let’s not be trashy.”

“Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you’re classic.”

“Do we need to stay home tonight?”

“Depends if you’re going.”

“Are you?”

“Should I?”

“Yes. As long as you’re not ostentatious.”

“Why is a little attention so bad?”

“It’s not the amount, it’s the type.”

“Fine.  I’ll stay home.”

“You can’t stay home.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to have a bad time.”

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The Bracelet

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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 Box

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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

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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

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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

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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.”