by Morgan Shaver
Endless days float past, each one blurring into the other. I cannot remember the day when I was displayed on the high shelf above the produce. Nor can I say with any certainty how long I’ve been up here. Flanking me are similar creatures, though none of them look much like me. One of them resembles a giant psychopathic sea sponge.
When he was plucked off the shelf his smiling face seemed to regard me with a sick sort of satisfaction. I wasn’t fond of him, I wasn’t sad to see him go. I was a bit disappointed to see the one who resembled a human girl with short brown hair go. She struck me as friendly, even if we never held a real conversation. I constantly racked my brain for something to say to her, anything at all really.
“Hey, did you see how long the old lady spent picking out three apples?”
Something like that perhaps, but I was never given the chance. As quickly as she had been displayed beside me she was gone. Day after day I waited with anticipation for my turn to be taken home. I’m one of the last, it has to be soon, I can feel it. Unbeknownst to me, I had an uncanny intuition. The following day I notice a flustered-looking gentleman in his mid-20’s walking briskly past the aisles of produce. His hand firmly latched onto a small girl bearing a striking resemblance to the brown-haired creature chosen before me. She holds a bright pink balloon with words written upon it that I cannot read and bounces up and down merrily.
I watch as the gentleman seeks out one of the Workers. The Worker approaches the man and they partake in a deep conversation, frequently pointing in my direction. Excitement flutters within me like paper mache in the wind.
“My daughter wants the one that looks like a donkey,” the man explains.
“Are you sure? That one is pretty plain. We just got in a lovely light blue one with the characters of Frozen on it. I’m sure she’d like that one better,” the Worker responds, preparing to head off to fetch it for the man.
I feel my insides coil. No, I cry to myself, no you must pick me!
“Look, I don’t mean to be a pain, but she’s got her heart set on that one,” the man repeats, pointing once more in my direction.
If I could smile I would be beaming as the Worker fetches a ladder and lifts me up off the dusty shelf. My feet leaving four circular imprints behind.
I glance over at the others. A spherical object, another animal shape, I bid them both goodbye. Before I can appreciate my good fortune I find myself in a bag made of paper being transported to the man’s home. For several hours I perch on the kitchen counter watching as the family participates in some weird party ritual for the girl. Then, much to my discomfort, I feel the man prying my back open and stuffing it full of what I presume are pieces of candy.
“Daddy, can I hit the piñata first since it’s my birthday?” The girl asks tugging the bottom of the man’s shirt.
Are they speaking about me? Am I a piñata? If I am, why does she want to hit me? “Sure sweetheart, but don’t hit it too hard or it will break and your friends won’t get a turn.”
The mother of the girl comes in and takes her into the backyard where a dozen additional children have gathered. Their eyes glimmer as they dance over me. The man secures a string tightly around my body and carries me towards a tall tree. Panic courses through me. I try to scream but no sound comes out. I do not want to hang from the tree, I do not want to be hit!
I cannot move, I cannot voice my protests. This is all wrong, it wasn’t supposed to end up this way, they were supposed to love and cherish me. I dangle from the tree helpless and full of fear as the man places a white cloth over the girl’s eyes. I feel a fleeting glimpse of hope. Her vision is obscured which means she won’t be able to find me. I’m safe… right?
But I’m wrong. I am so very wrong.
A glancing blow bounces off my flank before I am forcibly yanked upward out of reach. A sigh of relief escapes me before I am lowered once more. The stick whaps me between the eyes. I feel the pain that only an object approaching its imminent demise can feel. Everything pauses.
There is a pregnant stillness in the air while the man covers another child’s face with the cloth. The male child seems more aggressive, his knuckles white as they squeeze the stick. The little girl huddles behind the man with a look of dread. The male child steps forward and WHAM! My belly splits open, candy pouring from the garish wound onto the grass below. Children stream forward screaming triumphantly as they fight and claw and grapple with each other for the candy. The girl wails. Is she crying for me? I wonder.
“Daddy, daddy! It’s MY birthday! I was s’posed to break the piñata, it’s not fair!” She sobs into the man’s shirt as he desperately tries to console her.
A single tear falls from my own face but the man does not comfort me. Instead I am snatched from the tree and cast aside into the garbage.
Category: Fiction, Short Story