Two buildings, almost touching, stand next to each other on a skinny side street. They are stained with the shadow of phone lines, but the connection is lost. From the alley crack smooshed between them, a paved road separates one from the other.
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.
When Neighbors Start Walking
unREALcouchpotato1966: New to 8th street
I’m new here as you can probably tell by the moving boxes set out on the curb. I was going to call someone to remove them right away, but then I thought about the neighborhood. I thought, why get rid of my old treasures when somebody else might enjoy them just as much as I did?
So here’s what we’ve got.
- A rainbow throw blanket from the 70s. This is real. The guy I used to live with gave it to me when he was in college and there’s minimal damage. Blanket may need a wash, but I’ve found a lot of people like the scent.
- Round pillow speaker. I don’t know if you remember, but these were really popular about twenty years ago. You can fall asleep listening to music on a soft plushie. The speaker still works, but there is a high, whale-like, sound every few minutes. I think Britney Spears had one.
- Gold. This might not be real gold, but it could be. I found it inside one of my pockets the other afternoon and I’m guessing one of the kids from the old house shoved it in there. But it could be real gold.
- An assortment of buttons, coins, and movie stubs. These are antiques. The only reason I’m not saving them is because of my allergies.
Again, I’d totally call someone to haul this stuff for me, obviously it’s not a cash-flow issue, but I just figured, sharing is the neighborly thing to do.
SarahDandtheKttens: Are you the house with a metal rocking horse in the front?
AnneCommings1953: Isn’t there a dumpster on 7th?
UnicornMadness: I don’t appreciate the depiction of horses as simply tools for riding. I have a horse and she is very intelligent.
AnneCommings1953: I really think the dumpster is empty. Nobody uses that dumpster. You could put the horse in there too.
LampShade: Are you selling the buttons individually?
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.
Once upon a time there were books. Hard angled, sharp cornered rectangles with slivers in between. Slippery inked characters ran the page black and white. No color was necessary for pictures made of letters.
The books were complicated. Happy, but conflicted. Arrogant with the self aggrandizement that can only come from small sizes, the books had something to say.
“The History of Mankind”. Medical journals devoted to all aspects of the chest. The hunger of a whale.
“Don’t forget,” they all seemed to say. “I’m still here.”
Books went into shelves and then several cases. Crammed together with no structure, The Most Beautiful Woman in Town sat next to Lonesome Dove, stale Atlantic covers and Allure magazine. Too many words clanged against one another.
“This is too dusty a life these days,” McCall could be heard complaining.
“Have you tried page whitener?” Beauty magazines were shoved to the back.
The direction was unclear. There were words of self help. “Don’t think: Just Do.” mixed with fairy tale warnings, “always listen to your mother-in-law.”
When the book cases were full, they were kept in kitchen cabinets. Out went the dishware. Out went the pans. Words stayed in cramped spaces and roll-out drawers for silver.
When the kitchen was taken over, books piled under the bed. The sneaky books took to hiding. Narcotics Anonymous. How To Be Single. Ipod for Dummies. Quieter, but ever present, there they stayed. All the books. Softly chattering throughout an apartment worth of sentences.
Once upon a time there was not enough space. With every story came inches lost. Ingested into the head, they moved from the physical sphere to the mental and when it was time to go, they came with. Boxes of characters in square structured places. All books find a home.
I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, but I am nobody’s key.
They rolled in hot pink bubble gum, but stuck to the sides and bleed. Roads for miles with streets past the corner, the ground is stretched on neon. They roll past gravel and pave plumping stickiness until nobody is left to deceive.
I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, but there is no actual key.
They could leave if they want to, but actually they can’t because people can’t roll the same way. People head home. People go to work. Their feet got stopped up in sweetness.
“I’d go if I could, but I just can’t move.” The path is too pretty to leave.
“You’re so beautiful.” And the brush was good.
When the brush was tiny, a comb with sharp teeth, he snagged against thick tangles in the morning. Large women with curls like a slinky proved the comb was not strong enough to fit. He pulled and he clawed, but he ripped at the root. He snarled until the women all screamed.
He was a small plastic comb that looked sharp, but was flimsy. With too much stress, the comb would snap, so he hid in the hair of many. Maybe she’ll forget about me, the comb started to hope as he buried himself further toward her scalp.
The further he tried to disappear, the harder the women yanked. Stuck and clingy, he had nowhere to go. He bared his teeth again.
“This is useless!” One woman shouted early before dawn. Her hair, heavy and wet, was too much for the comb to handle. With one jerk of her bangled wrist, the snarls of teeth and hair broke free. The comb was no longer. The mornings were bad.
In its place, several days later, the comb morphed into its softness. He had bristles like horse hair. His body was a spoon. No longer were there hard edged teeth and the small compact frame of something rigid. Instead, he embraced the shine that all women want. And there was evening, and there was morning. And it was good.
Curled into tiny shapes and growing. Animal letters stretch carefully as not to be seen. Peering small sized and waiting. It takes a bent neck to notice. “Closer” they say – seeping further into the page. “My body of paper is eating us up. Is it cannibalism?” Still they stay.
These words weren’t always this small, but before the big, they just were. Limping on a question too old to hold: Can anyone read what I’m saying?
And when nobody could, they grew impatient with rage until the question split in half. HOW CAN YOU NOT SEE ALL OF THIS? They jumped into space. IS ENTITLEMENT NOT DESERVED?
But when one page’s letters became the volume of another, their meaning became the same. I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY. Said one sentence to the next, but nobody paid attention. I NEED TO PICK UP TOOTHPASTE, SPONGES AND SEEDLESS GRAPES. Another sentence took over.
Exclamation points were added to stand out from all the rest. HEY!! I’LL BRB!!! But they were ignored just the same. It was always besides the point.
A small period was stated and then The End. The words, at first, were devastated. But after the silence, when exclamations were forgotten, the words crept and curled. Like the pause of a tongue swallowing the “saids”, the animal letters
s t r e t c h
Thank God we’re over the past. It was an ugly time for anyone, but especially hard on us. There were times when it seemed you would never get here, but I knew you were stuck in time.
I know you think I was running from you, but really, who wouldn’t? You were so creepy with your insistence on everything now. Images of bad 90s workout videos to songs like Pump Up The Jam were a constant threat to my reality. Would anyone want to listen to that when Jane Fonda seemed so much better?
Everything looks better in Sepia. Even those bowl haircuts that boys used to have. Now they’re almost cute. Now that they aren’t around anymore. What is it that goes on now that will look better in the future? I know. I know. It doesn’t matter, it’s not happening. Future and past don’t exist.
But let me ask you one thing, before we figure it out. Did you ever say to someone “Live in the moment” only to laugh at yourself? Just for a minute. Disregarding the idea that you truly believe what you say, did the humor ever reach you, when you truly wished it wouldn’t?
Which moment, is what I want to know, did you decide you weren’t my future?
I enjoy what we’ve got going on right now and I’m not trying to give you grief. But please, let me know: if you want to go further, I can always take you back.
I have a confession to make. I heard everything you were saying that night on the porch. In the alley. On the beach.
I hear them all. All the time. I hear them even when you’re fine.
Somebody wants a boyfriend for the 8th grade dinner dance. Someone wants a raise. I know the man who cheated on his wife and I know his remorseful ways.
I heard the child in the bathroom stall, pleading the school would fall down
and I heard the teacher in the other room, wishing they’d all drown.
I have to pick wisely, I keep telling you all. At the right time for the right cause, I answer the right call.
Like the woman in the hospital who really might have died
or when a man was almost jailed because of someone else’s lie.
But I have to tell you everything because without it I won’t make sense.
I lost my ears in a city park. The world became too tense.