To No Big Surprise
It was a lousy gig, but at this point any gig was worth taking. I had all the usual bullshit dreams of coming to New York and making it as an actor but here I was dressed up every day in a monkey suit for the screaming kids at a second-rate pizza joint. At the moment I was outside on my cigarette break, no longer noticing that the jaded lunchtime crowd didn’t notice me. Going out and getting falling-down drunk seemed like a good plan for tonight. This sure is a great town. Not soul-crushing at all.
She finally found it, in the cabinet under the wetbar with the videos. This year it was all pastels—carnation pink and pale yellow and sky blue. There was the usual crinkly artificial grass, and then on top of it six plastic eggs, one of the hollow chocolate bunnies she always felt too bad to eat, and gooey pink sugar-coated marshmallow Peeps that she for some reason did not. Beside it there was a stuffed gray bunny and a tape of 101 Dalmatians. She opened one of the eggs—jellybeans. She ate a black licorice one, contemplating the wonder of free candy.
She opened the loyal yellow box of Crayolas, ninety-six of them in varying degrees of sharpness waiting patiently in their little compartments. She set about rearranging them, putting the shades of different colors together, lined up carefully from light to dark. Periwinkle, sky blue, cerulean, blue, navy blue, midnight blue. Everything would be ready for all the blank paper in the world, the pure whiteness begging to be put to use, to become the setting of something fantastic. All the daydreams inside her would be poured out onto those pages, the bright colors connecting her to something beyond the ordinary.
She solemnly gathered up the brightly-colored pieces of rubber that lay scattered across the floor. At the age of six her only experiences with icy-fingered death were from her family Cocker spaniel and these balloons, gleefully popped by everyone else at the end of the party. She believed the explosive end of happiness personified deserved a respectful final rite. So, all remnants in hand, she walked solemnly to her bedroom and pulled out the shoebox from under her bed, depositing them individually inside to rest peacefully. She stared at the collection inside, wondering how color could so easily shrivel away.