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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Oscar, I Have Nothing

The garbage can is talking to me.

Honest, it speaks every time I pass by. It is one of those high-tech refuse bins, with a light sensor. When my shadow falls across the sensor, the lid creaks open like a mouth, waiting for me to deposit my trash inside. After about four seconds, it closes again. I counted. The can belongs to my daughter’s roommates. Everyone else in the house ignores it unless, of course, someone actually has trash to toss inside its mouth. Yet, as the visitor to the house, I still jump every time I walk past it, and it yawns widely at me.

It is speaking to me, in a strange, foreign language, of silent but insistent demands. Those things that pull me, draw me---good things, mostly, but things that require some of the stuff that is me. The never-ending chain of supply and demand that is my life sometimes weighs on me sometimes carries me along in a heart-pounding rush.

After two days of being startled and guilted by this appliance, today I stood looking at the open-mouthed garbage can and spoke back. “I don’t have anything to give you. See, nothing in my hands. I’m empty.” It paused, as if listening; processing my words, then closed its mouth again. I hope it understood. Still, something tells me that when I pass again, it will shout once more its silent demand.

I am prepared, though. I have a scribbled, wadded page of paper in reserve.

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