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Life In a Nutshell: (Furthermore, Second Helpings & Empty Plates)
Here’s life in a nutshell:
She thought she had eaten some bad food, because her stomach was churning and thorns were sprouting, every direction, their vines curling around the butterflies flittering through her nerves. The thing is that wasn’t bad food; it was something less tangible.
Growing up, she wanted the highest apple from the best orchard. Every time she found a new tree, a snap of her fingers would bring the most dazzling one down, right into the palm of her hand. Because her shell was so beautiful, they all assumed that inside she was just as ravishing; but that polished apple had a worm in it. She always thought that if she fell, she’d spring back up like a sponge cake, because the extent of the coddling she received marked her, followed her, and everyone knew it.
She thought she had eaten some bad food, because her stomach was bubbling with something daunting. Plausible tantrums crystallized within her mind. No, that’s child’s play. Here’s life, an egg, and even when a crack forms in its shell make sure you still hold it in those hands.
Slamming a fist on the table, she asked did you see that? And they stared at her, mom and dad and the children who shared her last name. Family. The room spun; did you see that?
Don’t give me that tone.
It wasn’t her fault. Here’s life in a nutshell, sitting in the dining room with the chandelier above their heads, illuminating them like they were glasses of club soda, effervescent and glamorous.
Pass the salt. No, he passed the pepper. Dad, the salt. Try it again. Once the saltshaker was in her hand she didn’t want it anymore, put it back down. The apples on the table were bright red, but she knew inside every one they’d all be pale and yellow. It got old. It got tiring. This was why she avoided family dinners. But here’s life in a nutshell, sitting at a table with her family and not speaking, because at that moment the peas were an excuse, like: How was your day?
It wasn’t too good, but please pass that bowl.
The vines were twisting tighter and tighter with every single syllable spoken at that table. Oil could make anything slippery, but add substance and you’ll barely see it coming.
I’m leaving. They didn’t ask where she was going. Her little brother let the spoon fly from his fists, and beans fell scattered across the floor. That’s another thing – spill the beans and it’s a lot more complicated picking them all back up.
Puddles were spilled milk, and women with suede shoes avoided them like toddlers who dreaded the thought in its entirety. She could walk straight through, like she didn’t even see them, didn’t even feel the splashes on the back of her calves, because unlike spilled milk, they couldn’t be avoided.
Gripping life in a nutshell – she always walked alone because things become more magical when left to only one pair of eyes. So sad she could laugh, so happy she could cry, stop and explain the complications? She ordered it all she could, but please open up your ears a little more, so far no one had heard it. You have too much of a good thing. But who were you to tell her that? Some people heard that if they have one decency, never be afraid to let it go – nursery rhymes reassuring them that their lost meatball will grow into a tree, just let it be for a few seasons.
Lost invitations gathered, “sorry, I had obligations,” piling up in neat little folds of her tablecloth, the one she washed often – clearing out the stains. Wind ripped through the litter on the streets, like ribbon candy in motion the storm brought them prancing through the air, colors wild and contents unneeded, forgotten.
Like she’d forget the house? She’d seen it every morning when she walked to school, no, she wouldn’t forget it – she knew it for sure, sandwiched right between the well-kept ones, it hid itself. When the stairs felt like jell-o, her feet sunk into each one – begging her not to approach, stop – let me go, the knuckles hitting the wood in a knock, just one, but followed with a few more.
Cigarette smoke from Dad and perfume from Mom, he stood like he expected it, but waited for her to speak. Running in the rain would have made me wetter, so I walked. If fruit grew on the vines that trapped each brick, they’d be rotting; apples brown to the core, and grapes withering into raisins. But let’s steer away those ideas, she’d step over them either way, because both she and Eve knew fruits could be deceiving.
Why did you come? It was a good question; she felt her hand steadying her body, grabbing the gate and the coolness stung like ice. When life throws you lemons, just squeeze them into lemonade – but even lemons resisted vulnerability, despite how sour they might look. She was able to tell something wasn’t going well when she finally managed to memorize every crease on the shoes she wore… lift your eyes, she wanted to but right now it was like he was the sun and she didn’t want to stare directly at it, she’d be blinded.
I do feel lost sometimes. Admit it, the truth sat on the tip of her tongue like a peppermint, it would taunt her with sweetness, but sooner or later even that dissolves.
But this is life in a nutshell, isn’t it? I do feel lost sometimes, but so do you. I know. I’m not ashamed, not because of you – never because of you.
Like layers in a cake, people had expectations – the best on the top, and then it was all bland underneath. But isn’t that what kept her up, the ones below her? She wasn’t conceited, thoughts didn’t have virtues - the virtues came afterwards, when you decided to act on them.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. You won’t change. She didn’t want to salt the wound, but couldn’t help if he dubbed the situation fishy. Maybe you can walk through life like a piece of eye candy, attract all the hermit crabs who dwell in those glass and diamond buildings like you, I just hope you remember your animal science; they all leave those beautiful shells eventually.
And crash, she should have known that sugar can coat only so much, once you taste it bare things offer new perspectives. What happened to second chances?
You’ve had your chances; the first when we met, the second when you questioned all my intentions.
If I said I loved you? When everything new has been used, she tended to search for whatever crumbs may still remain.
Then you’d be bargaining for leftovers.
There’s life in a nutshell. And she wouldn’t learn anything from the shut door, yet maybe second helpings were deceiving. (Finish what you’ve got, because maybe then others won’t be so inclined to stare at how much you began with.) In other words, a clean plate will open up options, furthermore, once you begin to starve there won’t be anything to grab on to.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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well to tell you the truth, i got a little bit confused haha but ive got to say i am so JEALOUS of your amazing descriptions and extensive vocabulary. i loved how even if it was just like a small object you used like 3 descriptions to describe it! just, wowwww! :) plz check out my novel Last Note. it should be under recently added and plz gimme some feedback! wow sorry im still in awe that was truly just wow haha