At the beginning of the millennium Sally Stenson had a new idea. She put this idea on paper and wrapped it in a box, which she placed on the ground and let a big oak tree grow up around it. She wrote a story in the paper about how she wanted it to be opened long after her death, when there wasn’t any more happiness in the world. She put it in her will, too. Centuries passed and people  forgot all about it, eventually wondering what the old oak tree was even doing there. It was huge, the perfect mixture of brown and green and stuck in the middle of a field ideal for urbanization. There was a petition to cut it down, but then someone brought forth Sally Stenson’s will and there were protests. Sally Stenson’s idea was revitalized and in this new millennium they heralded her for such a visionary measure. Some people thought that there wasn’t anything in the box, and that Sally’s idea was that it would always stay there as a reminder that there is always some kind of happiness in the world. Others believed Sally had written some kind of plan that would revolutionize the world in a way that sadness wouldn’t matter anymore. They wanted to open the box, because as much happiness as there was, they wanted something more. Still others didn’t know what could be in the box, and they were afraid to find out. One day, at the end of a world war they had lost count of, where people had simply lost the will to continue fighting, they opened the box. Inside was pages and pages of words that didn’t make any sense. People tried for the rest of time to understand what it meant. They spent everything on it, banding together to isolate patterns or uncover any kind of key. They worked with each other, forever. They never did figure it out.


A long time ago, before there was television or bread or even language, four people lived together in the woods. They communicated through grunts and sign language, and however they could. They foraged for food and slept under the stars. They didn’t know what things like science or love were. But they still knew how to make fire. And they knew how to love. One day, though it couldn’t have been said to really be a day, it was snowing. One of the people hadn’t found a good enough fur for the winter, so she shivered and cried, and the others warmed her by placing her in the middle of them and allowing their excess to cover her body. She felt an appreciation she didn’t understand and in turn, she fashioned them pieces of fur to wear on their heads. Afterwards, every first snow, they huddled together and offered each other presents. It was because they loved each other. And it was beautiful.

Sally feels sadword.
She tiredverb.
She wants to overcome commonhumanobstacle.

She does.

Sometimes on Tuesday they would go to the furniture store and sit on the couch, any couch they would never be able to afford. She would lean into his chest with his arm around her, and they would watch the fake television and talk about anything. Afterwards, they’d walk hand in hand to the expensive grocery store, sampling the fancy cheeses and wines for free. They’d stay close, hardly bearing to break their hands. They would go to the dog park, freely playing with animals they could never have, naming them and laughing. When they returned home to their little apartment that didn’t have anything inside it, they wouldn’t care. They would sit up against a wall entangled in each other, whispering their hopes for the future, not even worried that they couldn’t pay rent or buy any food to eat. They had each other. That was enough.

As a child,  I was prone to bullying. It left me frustrated and dejected at an early age, when I was just seven I told my mother that the world would be better off without me. When I was nine and daily still enduring their abuse to the point that my self worth was beyond recovery, my mother’s boss committed suicide. She made me go to the funeral.

Dozens of people, his relatives, coworkers and anyone who heard about it showed up and spoke about how they would miss him and that they loved him and they were sorry that they hadn’t had a chance to show him that. See, my mother told me, people love you, they just don’t know how to show it.

I believed my mother for years because it was easy and nice to pretend that these people would be sorry if I were dead, that they would be the ones to feel like dirt because they hadn’t gotten the chance to show me they loved me, but I don’t believe that anymore. Now that I’m older I know those people didn’t love him. They felt sorry for him and wanted to feel better about themselves. Please, whoever finds this note, let only my mother come to my funeral.

I’d been sheering cats for years and when some lady brought in a fat white one I knew exactly what was wrong with it.

“Sorry, Ma’am, but we can’t sheer pregnant cats. If you’d like, I can take care of the kitties and have her fixed”

Her eyes narrowed. “Are you suggesting an abortion?” She looked disgusted. “I’ll get her fixed, because I’m sick of her having babies, but I most certainly don’t believe in something like that.”

I shrugged. Didn’t matter to me. “All right, what are you going to do with the kittens? I can give you the number of the humane society or something.”

Oh, that’s all right.” She replied, clearly annoyed. “My husband will just drown them in the lake like last time.”

After dinner we went back to her place. She showed me around, it was a nice joint. She had a decent sized fish tank, but I didn’t really take notice of it, in the dumb way guys do when girls are showing them around.

“This is Ralph,” she said pointing to one of two identical orange fish with black spots. “And this is Emerson.”

She looked at me with a suggestive smile that I completely misread. The date sort of fizzled from there and it wasn’t until months later after a lot of meditation on what went wrong that I realized I was supposed to say, “Where’s Waldo?”