(12th in this challenge)
Many beings want a say about their final resting place, regardless of their religious affiliation (or lack thereof).
The purple bendy straw wanted to end up in the recycling.
“It speaks to my entire concern about this world and also to my belief in reincarnation,” Purple told his fellow straws in their box in the dark.
No one else really wanted to think about death, though, much less their final resting place; they wanted to distract themselves. All clocks would change to the Impending Minute of Death (around 3:25P.M. every afternoon) soon enough. The mother would retrieve their box from the drawer, revealing the world to them through the top opening and the front plastic window. They would ooh and awe at the sight of the newest rug or latest stack of crusty dishes, at the hyper dog stumbling underfoot or the gawking cat atop the refrigerator staring coldly as if it commanded the clock hands. They oohed and awed in meditative chant, overpowering the fear (if possible), until the mother asked each of her chubby girls to choose which would die. Then they stood as straight as non-bendy straws, their fates in gross, stubby child’s hands. That would be hours from now, though; no one needed to think about it until the appropriate time. So they shushed him.
“But it’s natural when facing your mortality to talk about these things. We’ll all feel better,” he said.
“Shut up! Shut up right now,” a pink bendy straw said. She sliced through the crowd. “You don’t know anything about mortality. Purples are their least favorite color. They haven’t killed any of you yet. I’m the last of the pinks.”
“But there were only seven of y’all.”
“I’m just saying: there were eight of all the rest of us and only seven of y’all. That’s why the mother bought us: we were discounted because for some reason y’all were one less. So, of course, it’s more likely there’d only be one of you left.”
“I’m the only red, too,” the red bendy straw coughed up from somewhere.
“I’m just—” started Purple.
“You’re just being a toothpick,” exclaimed Pink.
Three straws gasped at the name-calling and one said, “Mmmhmm.”
Another said, “Finally, some drama other than the Impend—” but the crowd shushed them.
Someone else in the crowd said, “Your sister was a hero, Pink!” and they all remembered how the sister kept dragging herself across the grocery linoleum even after six shopping carts had run her over. They didn’t know if she’d exited the box accidentally or of her own volition, but the loss would have felt the same.
Suddenly the earthquake they were expecting so much later began. They fell onto one another as the kitchen light blared. The mother might as well have been Gabriel. Many said how they loved the other, leaned in for potential farewells; they even told Purple that he’d be missed. Their tone was suspect.
A girl reached in.
“No! No!” someone pleaded as one stray, a yellow, was grasped.
“I’ll always love you,” Yellow repeated until shoved into a juice box.
“Are you there, love?” the first cried. Everyone listened intently, heard gargles, then a gasp:
“A hint of sour and yet a hint of sweee—”
The other girl shoved her fingers in, blocking the light. Several grunted, being knocked into others. Purple stared at the flickering shadows. The green bendy straw beside him began to rise, sobbing. Purple sighed in relief.
Until he was lifted as well.
In panic and in awe of the world outside of the box, Purple tugged out of the pinching fingers.
“You can’t leave me,” pleaded Green. “Don’t. Please.”
And the volume of the words tapered as Purple fell to the floor. Seeing the dog, he rolled under the cabinet. Had anyone seen him? Would they snatch him up? He slid toward the oven, seeing how the space beneath it didn’t end.
“Come here,” screamed a girl. He burst into the under space narrowly avoiding her pinch.
**JAKE RUNS OUT OF STEAM SO HERE’S A RUSHING OF SOME SORT OF MIDDLE AND END**
The cat reached under the stove and caught him. He slid across the kitchen floor.
“Wait,” one girl said to her sister, who was reaching in for another straw. The sister who was reaching picked him up and took her to her room. Green called him lots of unnecessary, bad names.
The girl taped him to the hand of a GI Jane. “You are a sword,” she said and began whacking them both against a stuffed eagle dolls. “Nasty Buckbeak! No juice for you.” Purple heard Green chuckle between moments in the girl’s mouth.
Once being tossed under the girl’s bed, Purple pried himself from the GI Jane and waited for dark until he could bolt for the door. He only bolted inches out from under the bed, when the dog padded up and ate him.
Is this Heaven? He asked, reluctant to smile, yet reluctant to be pessimistic. As he was packed into other things eaten, he fainted, only to wake in the backyard, dog lifting its hind end out-of-the-way, exposing Purple to rain. Though he couldn’t smell, Purple still screamed at the realization that he was in a pile of dog crap.
The rain rushed into him, rolling him across the grass-spare yard, down to the alley where he ended up stuck in a drain filter with leaves and other bits of plastic. A city employ emptied the filter the next morning, recycling him. Purple was so overjoyed to be recycled. When piled on top of prescription bottles, water bottles, and food filled to-go containers, he cannot stop talking.
“I have dreams of being an IV bag or a Starbucks Trenta cup,” he said. A Starbucks Trenta cup lid curved toward Purple. It’s happening, Purple thought, I’m becoming—”
“Dyed plastic like you will probably only end up turned back into what you are,” the lid said with amusement.
“Really?” Purple asked. He hung his head, looking vaguely at the random dog teeth marks along his body.
“Yep, sorry. Hey, I’ll probably end up a plastic cup again, too. It happens.”
“But I’ve already been a purple bendy straw!” Pink huffed out of one end, scattering dirt in faces of those around.
“Well, get over it.” The lid curved flat again.
Purple lingered, surveying the pile of plastic things he couldn’t be, sighing many times. Just unfair, he thought, especially since I pretty much delivered myself to this pile. But these were the circumstances. He decided to scoot to the edge of the mound, lean one end as high as possible, and spin himself off of the pile. He landed in a roll. Once to the bottom, it took him all day, catching the wind when he could, to travel to the very end of the plastics. Finding a trench in the underside of the concrete base of a fence pole, he rolled in, then stretched to the lip of the trench and set his chin upon it, staring toward where the trucks parked and unloaded.
“Might as well wait for others.”
I keep bendy straws for my homemade coffee lattes and warm lemon water in a drawer with many other things that I daily need. Every other time, I knock them onto the oven or floor. A corner of the box caught fire last week, so I dunked it in the water boiling for pasta. I’ve stepped on it repeatedly. For these wrongs, I am truly sorry. The drama of being a bendy straw in my home.
P.S.: A thank you to my mom’s boss for bringing me this cap from a business trip they took. It was just what I needed for my oily bedhead until I shower.