Universe of the Crumpled Fridge
No, he’s not going to go out today. The winter light is golden outside the window, and he stares. It’s light reflected off a building and giving beauty to a flat blue sky. Thin branches of close trees form their traceries without pattern. The UPS guys retrieved the damaged shipment, hauled it out of the basement, the same two who made the delivery. Equally cheerful, first and last. Beginning and end. Call it, universe of the crumpled fridge. (Go back to sleep, Einstein. It’s just him again.) He went out this morning. Out this morning. First thing. After a long nap, it’s best to put some cheese on bread into the micro. It fills the tank. That fridge – he won’t say “poor fridge” – had been serviceable, but the negotiations broke down and now it is somewhere out there. Someone dropped it. Squashed it. Buyers will flock elsewhere. They should have taken his offer. He would have made use of their damaged goods.
As for himself, he will continue to inspect the golden light and perhaps not go out.
THE GIRL IN THE TREE
The medium-sized tree grew in the park. In the crook of one of its branches stood a girl. Her dress covered her from neck to ankle. Hair to shoulders. No shoes. Hands clasped before her. One morning she was there in the tree and the next and the next. All the visitors to the park and those who walked through it got used to her. She was in the air, asked for nothing and caused no trouble. Spring, summer, fall and winter followed each other.
An elderly couple visited the park and sat on one of the benches in front of the girl in the tree.
The next day, they decided to return and visit again in their own quiet way.
At first it disappointed them to find that there was no longer a girl in the tree. When they looked about, they noticed that other trees held in their branches girls similarly dressed as the one who had disappeared. The couple stayed where they were a while longer and, when they finally got up to go, they saw other couples just like themselves seated on park benches.
Once back on the street, if they had turned around, they would have seen that the park had become empty except once again for the girl in the tree.
The salt truck passes by, no fuss, no bother. No bothersome, hysteria inducing alerts on wall-to-wall TVs. It sprays crystals in a broad wake, The driver drinks from his thermos. He has his radio on and he listens to the national emergencies south of the border in the most prosperous country on the planet. They are into year two of electing their president. He watches it all on TV. It’s better than a canoe race. Unless you have a paddle in the river. He will scoop his hands into the water and drink. He will feel smug until something happens.
Most of his surprises await him in the bedroom. He is subject to strange dreams, that is all, and he finds he has difficulty uncurling his toes.
His wife is drop-dead gorgeous. That’s how it is.