Page 2 of 3
By Amy Elizabeth Robinson
I want a manicure. I want a new car. I want a chocolate caramel each time I check out at the grocery store. I want my life to be orderly. I want a garden with clipped hedges and bordered beds. I want a better shoe organizer.
What I don't want is to stand on my doorstep holding this goddamned blood-colored envelope, still damp with the feel of the priest's fingers pressing it into my hand. I don't want the feel of his fingers. I don't want the feel of anyone's fingers. I want dry bone-colored china in my cabinet and a polyester blanket to wrap around myself at the end of the day.
The priest showed up at my doorstep. He wants me to remember. I don't want to. Remember the men in your life, he says, a hiss at the back of his words. Remember God the Father above, His Son who came to save us. He pauses, snaking his neck to get a look into my eyes. Remember your father, dear, your very own, God rest his soul.
The sky is flat-gray above us. A candy wrapper rustles by. I want a wrapped-up candy. What I don't want is the stew of remembrance, mass or otherwise. I don't want to pay these priests so they can store my rotten memories away in a gilded box, or burn them away to heaven.
Wait . . .
I want my life to be orderly.
Wait, I say, just as he sighs and turns away.
He has one foot still on the doorstep. I hold up a finger, rush into the dark hall, find my purse, dig out some bills, stuff them in the envelope. I hunch over, sticky flap brushing my cheek, and whisper. Fiercely. I give that envelope as many memories as I think it can hold.
I straighten up, smooth my hair, seal the envelope and return to the door. The priest waits, eyes bright and greedy. I hold out the envelope. When he nods and tucks it into his robes, I am washed by the form and certainty he offers the world. I watch as he makes his way down the sidewalk for a while.
Wait . . .
I forgot to write my father's name on there. The priest never gave me a pen. How will God know those memories are mine? I want to start over again. Wait, I call. It's too late. He's already gone.
MS. LILY BROACH
By Diane Swan
I was extruded from a plastic vacuform machine in Hong Kong in MCMLXXXIV. I was affixed to my first bosom in 'LXXXV; that of an eccentric Chinese grandmother, voted out of the mahjong club for taking up chewing tobacco when the group agreed to quit smoking during games. She was so distraught that, even though I was a gift from her eldest daughter, any reminders of that fateful day were put on the curb.
Fortunately, my sidewalk stay lasted all of 10 minutes, when Patricia picked me up as a lucky token. She wore me everyday to her first job as dishwasher at Denny's. I was the only piece of jewelry that held up in the steamy room, never fading, scratching or rusting. I was as persistent as she proved to be, until she got promoted to server and tossed the dishwashing apron in the trash with me pinned to it.
Eric/a, sever at Denny's by day, drag queen by night, greedily rescued me. I was just what she needed to keep her left bra strap from showing when she wore the one-shoulder sarong in the ever-popular Hawaiian encore she performed at the Moose Lodge on alternating Saturday nights. One night, in a fit of passion, Eric/a flung her arms wide for her final curtsey, popping me off her shoulder into the lap of Cecilia.
Blinking twice, looking left then right, Cilly, as she called herself, clasped the broach to her chest in delight. Providence was shining on her in the entity of me, a lily broach, just what Cilly needed to adorn her sweater for piano lessons with Wilber tomorrow. He might pay attention to her instead of the piano lesson with me adorning her flat bosom.
It was Wilber who disappointed her, not me. But she unpinned me from the gray cotton sweater, putting me in the CVS bag along with other discards, to donate to the shelter for its monthly jumble sale.
I don't honestly remember how I showed up at your doorstep. My hunch is, I got rejected from the costume-jewelry section, tossed in the not-sure-how-to-price pile and ended up in the $5 grab bag with a seed necklace with a broken clasp, a saggy bracelet whose elastic was stretched out, and a plastic watch with no battery. But I assure you, my dear, you will enjoy me. I'm eternal, plastic.