When I was a small, cheerful but paranoid four-year-old, my home was alive. Therefrigerator, toaster, sink, they all had unique personalities and foibles. Myfather knew it, too, and cursed at the microwave to ensure cooperation. Usually,these inanimate appliances were only a bit mischievous, slightly annoying butdoing no real harm.
There was one exception.
Some trash cans arecomposed of plastic, others of metal. Most are merely an open container intowhich garbage can be thrown, but our trash can was a malevolent hellion withmurderous intent. The day my father brought it home, I was chasing him, excitedand filled with happy curiosity. The trash can was much less pleased to see me.It flung itself at me and knocked me over like a bowling pin. I vowed never toturn my back on the diabolical creature, even for an instant.
It had amouth, a stinking, toothless maw composed of the same aluminum-colored materialused as skin. The creature did not have eyes; instead, it had apedal.
"It's like a doorknob, Allen," my mother told me,laughing at my distress. "Except when you push this doorknob down, the mouthopens and you throw your trash inside."
I quickly learned that onceits mouth opened, I had only fractions of a second to withdraw my fingersintact.
Normally, I threw my garbage away without trouble. Normally. Onone occasion, though, the abomination locked onto my arm and refused to releaseme. I sprang away, shrieking, "Get off, get off!" It tipped over,throwing me to the floor. The creature's reeking innards spilled out, and I layin paralyzed terror until my mother arrived, scorning what she thought werechildish antics, to pluck me from the linoleum.
After my wounds andself-esteem healed from their respective injuries, I decided I had sufferedenough. I demanded retribution. The trash can would pay.
My numbing fearof my own dismemberment encouraged me to carry a sturdy yardstick everywhere Iwent. The two soft squeaks of my sneakers were accompanied by the thump of myweapon; I was prepared for any attack.
One fateful day, I found myadversary sitting with its mouth agape. The creature was breathing its stenchinto our kitchen, unaware of my presence. I saw this weakness and attacked,swinging the yardstick like a sword. It struck the putrid neck with devastatingforce. The creature squealed, responding to my violent attack with a barrage ofcoffee grounds. This insult merely made me hack harder. The creature's foul headflew free from its body, clattering to the ground.
I saved my life, andpossibly countless others, but my mother was not pleased. Vital privileges weretaken away. My yardstick was yanked from my hands and placed on top of therefrigerator where I could not reach it. Even without my weapon, though, my headbegan to swell, my ego cavorting over the terrain of my pride. Since then,inanimate objects have stayed in a motionless state, and I like it that way.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.