the roses you can’t see
I wonder if the mover would like to put down his box first, but he seems comfortable enough as he scans the pantry. “Frosting?” I suggest. “Peanut butter? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have pointed out that one–it’s half-eaten already. Take anything you want, please, it all has to go.”
He mulls my offerings, the detritus of five lives sitting sadly on cheap wire shelves. “I’ll take the steak sauce.” I turn to his little son.
“How about some jello?”
“I completely understand your feelings. I quite despise jello, myself.” I take down a little plastic can of toothpicks, with a translucent orange cap. It’s pretty full, but not quite, and it looks clean. “How about these?”
“Yeah!” I can’t see the orange cap anymore as his little hand engulfs the toothpicks. Pleased with their treasures, the mover and his son leave.
And now it occurs to me to wonder, as I watch them go, what exactly a ten year old boy is going to do with a little can of toothpicks. Maybe he just liked the orange cap? Perhaps he’ll make a toothpick moat, or a little log cabin with exceptionally skinny logs? Glue them to some paper and make a miniature kite? Will the toothpicks be kindling for a child-sized fire? God knows. But if his father had taken the toothpicks, I’d have known exactly what he would use them for–to pick his teeth.