Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vignette: Coriolis Effect

Emily knew she was in trouble when she saw the marzipan dog.

She'd sent the dog as a joking gift for Aunt Clara's birthday. Year before last.

Clara always denied being a hoarder. She denied it when she was sorting the newspapers by date, and organizing credit card solicitations by color and size, and scraping bits of sugar out of chocolate boxes and filing them in gold and silver stacks. The word was not to be spoken around Clara.

That marzipan dog should have been filed in the second shelf of the third refrigerator in the garage, along with the cherry cordials that Clara received every year from her accountant, and other items in the category Food:Candy:Types Clara Doesn't Eat. But it was on the hall table, in the center of the silver tray that was supposed to contain bent paper clips and pennies issued before 1950.

Food with pennies. Clara had abandoned organization.

Trouble. Big, big trouble.

Emily picked up the dog and examined it. It was as adorable as it had looked in the catalog--too much so, no doubt. Clara normally ate marzipan, though she saved the box and the paper cups. Apparently the dog had crossed over into "too good to use", and was doomed to live in Clara's house forever.

It was impossible to imagine Clara's possessions being disposed of, even after her death. Even moving them or packing them away was absurd. The 1968 cans of peas could end up in the same box as the 2007 cans of apricots--violation of fruit versus vegetable, expired versus unexpired, crossing of decades. No. Clara would surely rise out of her grave. Or perhaps time itself would stop, to enforce Clara's rules of order.

Emily grimaced and reached to put the marzipan dog down. Then she paused. Then she did it.

She carried the marzipan dog to the kitchen. She moved one of the flower vases filed in the left-hand side of the sink. She adjusted the faucet so that its stream would fall directly into the drain.

She turned on the garbage disposal, and she dropped the marzipan dog into the drain.

The grinding was brittle. Then it was gummy. Then it faded into the normal roaring of the disposal motor.

The dog was gone, its sugary remains draining away toward the sewer. Away from Clara's house.

Away. From Clara's house. One of Clara's possessions had left. And there was no thundercrack, no opening of the sky, no roaring of God's voice.

Emily smiled.

Image: By Frank Kovalchek. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Smooches. You made me smile.

  2. me likes this story. what happens next?

  3. Thanks, everybody! I greatly appreciate the positive response.

    As for what happens next, I'm not really sure. :) This was a piece of my 2009 NaNoWriMo, and in fact it could be the opening scene, but that doesn't mean that I'm actually sure what happens next.