by Jason Nelson
She is golden. Not made of metal or particularly popular. Nothing she touches twists or twists again to form anything valuable. Her father owns a tanning salon. And during the dark months of winter, when snow is gathered in dirty hills on the center lane, she lies beneath lights. I could write for hours about the tragic and wondrous significance of artificial suns, but I won’t. Maybe I should stretch this stretchy story even further by inserting perverted voyeurists or sarcastic attendants. But then you’d sift for meaning, pan for gold or silver or flint rocks that only appear to be arrowheads. And you’d feel silly. Because this short story, this cobbled vocabulary, isn’t really about her. It’s about her towel.
She believes in plushness, the power of thick cotton fibers. She says there is fire in these towels. That only combustion’s heat could drain her skin of sweat and oil and strawberry lotion. Never wash your towel, she proclaims, the flames between each thread will die. But these lines, these occasional phrases, aren’t about fire. Instead, it’s the tiny fruit seeds mixed into moisturizers that so dearly need to be addressed. The damp and soiled cotton is the ideal environment for the growth of trees. And those abrasive top branches and their fiery leaves are never conducive to a deep metallic tan.
It’s a small world after all.
Should all things be here? This is such a small space. There only seems to be room for two or three people, a couple of folding chairs, and a mini fridge filled with lunch meat. I just don’t see enough square footage for all things. Maybe it’s the color of the walls and the low ceilings that make this space appear so small. I once knew a philosopher who thought we, all creatures, lived in a room created by alien scientists. They, he would say, created this place to study our reactions, interactions, and contractual disputes. They didn’t do this for control of the earth or to have tentacle sex with long-legged models. It was our ceramic figurines, he figured, that they so greatly desired. Why they wanted these intricately crafted miniatures of this world’s cutest creatures, he didn’t know. Sure, this sounds like the insane theories of a jobless Ph.D. And sure, I’ve considered calling the police many times. But now that I’m in this deceivingly small room, and can see the ornately carved shelves in the corner with labels for Christmas gnomes and Springer Spaniels, I’m getting kinda worried.