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Merry Hill This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Colin stepped through the door, turned the corner and reached for the cold toaster. He flipped his head. His hair was orange and stringy like the marmalade next to the toaster. He pulled out the cold toasted bread, and spread warm marmalade across it. Colin shuffled to the open floor where he sat to eat. In the dark kitchen, on a dark floor, Colin chewed the orange. He chewed because he had to, because he didn't know any other way. And he spent his sticky thoughts on this chore. And the windows opened around him. The bread slipped under his tongue, and this was a thoughtful pastime in Merry Hill, NC - where little was more open than dark windows, kitchen floors and thoughtful sticky mouths. But there were so few openings that Colin felt conspicuous, orange in the dark even here in his own breezy kitchen. His thinking strolled around the floor, and through the air - but little escaped through the windows.

"Today," he mumbled, "is almost over. But that is the evident part of today I suppose, as the moon is out over Merry Hill and the sky is finally darkened. But today I have learned much more than moons and imposing hills. I have learned the much less apparent Merry Hill. Let me start at lunch. The actual lunch wasn't exceptional, just a turkey sandwich with extra mayonnaise at the Corner Deli. But I saw Mr. Turner chewing a beef jerky, mouth closed, at the counter. His eyes were half-closed, tired I guess. And he sat mumbling to the deli owner, Franko from up North. God. Colin, as dark as we've learned today, even before the sun set Colin, perhaps it's time to move up North and fill old Franko's place. Fall River, Mass. I think he said when I first came in there the first day I moved. Don't know really, of course, if anyone would hire me. So Mr. Turner mumbled and I caught words floating across the room, as chewy and indigestible as the beef jerky he sucked on.

AThat orange man, over on Sansmot Road, one with the dog, the damn dog, can't keep out, younger men - doesn't hunt, says he don't support, pacifist or something, girl I imagine.' Wasn't that enough to hear, Colin?"

The wind coming through was getting progressively colder and stronger. Colin wrapped his arms around his legs and started talking aloud into his knees.

"Jeez, I'm gone according to them. I'm not even the guy they hate named Colin, they can't remember my name. But they think I'm worth hating , worse I imagine, than if they ignored me. But no. The wind."

And the window blew open a little wider. Colin felt the air on his neck and tried to savor feelings. In case he ended up not having any at some point. He wanted to remember every one of them. It is moments like these, when the windows blow open, and Colin half-expected spirits to start to happen. But he kept his head down. He'd never seen one. Never believed just quite enough to see. Only the spirits came near to Colin's neck and licked him like his last lover. Tickled his hair in the way that made Colin giggle out loud. It was only a minute, but he found the energy to go to the window then and shut it for the night. He finished his bread and swallowed the bits that were stuck in his teeth. Colin found his dog Gopher under the only chair in the living room.

At ten-thirty they went to the bedroom to sleep on the mattress under a thick comforter. Colin scratched his orange head, startled a bit by the cold hair. He scratched Gopher's head, and licked the nape of his neck. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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