Self Annihilation

Out past the horizon of hope, cresting the brine, the arcs of its handles cutting the sky, there is a shopping bag, and in it is:

  • a two-pack of toilet paper;

  • a pair of surgical gloves;

  • an N95 mask still hygienically sealed within a plastic envelope;

  • a carton of premium ice cream, studded with entire Belgian pralines, the flavour reminiscent of the dew angels shed as they labour in the golden fields of the Lord, soft enough for a child of the tablet generation to scoop, but never melting;

  • a two-inch thick scotch fillet steak with grill marks still smoking, its interior hovering in that tender, ambiguous zone between blue and rare, like the ice cream ignoring entropy, exchangeable for an equal weight of tofu;

  • a small wooden box that could be the coffin for the salamander of the child of an oligarch, but instead protects from this world a marijuana cigar rolled by a twenty four year old savant named Ernesto while in a narcotic haze induced by the resins absorbed through the hairless patch of skin on his thigh;

  • a book written for you before you were born, long out of print, whose characters, while they grate and chafe against your pretensions, cast a light through your mind, and the brightness between the shadows forms the map you’ve been looking for;

  • a neatly folded pair of pyjamas soft as kittens’ breath, which might seem disconcerting, small cats huffing all over your regions, but it is a comfort you’ll quickly grow accustomed to after crying the first time you experience it, briefly wondering how you ever lived without it as you burn the rest of your clothes, then taking it for granted, forevermore oblivious to the luxury that you once shed tears over;

  • a pair of slippers that look like hedgehogs;

  • a thick compendium of crossword puzzles with a delicious mix of answers you immediately know, answers you can cleverly deduce from the letters of the crossing words, and answers that, as you give up on the puzzle in self disgust, occur to you in a creeping epiphany that sends shivers down your neck and across your shoulders;

  • the smell of every potential-laden spring morning you experienced as a child distilled into an oil and loaded into a rechargeable air freshener shaped like a dove to be sprayed from its beak, suggesting the untainted happiness we feel we lost can be regained if a bird spits upon us;

  • a sheet of paper with delivery instructions, the address in a town you’ve never heard of in a state on the other side of the country, at the top the name of the stranger whose order was processed mere seconds before yours, causing every item in your cart to be marked as out of stock.