Here’s a little flash fiction piece I’ve dragged from its slumber in my notebook, to rework it. It imagines the touchstones of our lives and wonders, what if there was something we could find again on the other side, something to hold?
It didn’t hurt at all, you know. In case you’re wondering. He stepped out of his house on a Tuesday morning, with the sky mostly sunny but for a line of light gray clouds over the hills, with a core of darker gray keeping it cool.
He stooped to pick up the Times by the lace begonia in its iron pot, meaning to tuck it under his arm. Instead, his body landed on the brick sidewalk. His nose was crunched and his glasses broken, but by then his spirit was already here in the garden, walking slowly – a little stiff and tentative from the jump – but with a sense of mission.
Everyone arrives here looking for something. A coat, a cup, a bicycle, a ring with a stone of lapis lazuli. A doll. Something that meant the world to them down there. I remember a woman who came and found an orange tree she ate from as a child.
For everyone a totem, a touch stone of the world that fades away becoming bone chips and tree roots. God knows what the thing might be. They hold it a moment to remember, then forget, then they can move on.
Well he moved through the garden, beginning to loosen up and find his pace. I was sitting on a rock, just watching, and thought I would give him a hand. Like the guy in the parking lot after the late movie, who just happens to have jumper cables when your car won’t start.
Morning, I said.
He stopped and looked at me on my rock.
Are you looking for something? I asked.
Really? Tell me about it.
Well it’s about this big, for holding pencils. But that’s not what I kept in it. My Dad made it for me when I was in fourth grade.
What did you keep in it?
Just junk. Couple of hot wheels cars, Indian head nickel, magnifying glass, a pen to write in four colors, a blue ribbon from the Veterans’ Day parade.
So you’re looking for the box, not the stuff inside?
It had my initials carved in the lid.
I left the rock and moved to him. I handed him the box. He looked at it, held it, opened it to see that everything was there. He held it and believed.
Something to Hold by Kyle Kimberlin
is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.