Shelf Life: episode 8 “rejection”
And that’s when I first laid eyes on Gloria. She was truly an angel.
She had ivory skin with rosy cheeks and bright blue eyes that shined like the frozen, northern expanse underneath a full moon.
I was utterly transfixed, I was stupidly befuddled by this beauty which was nothing more than a simple Christmas ornanment… Such, I suppose, is love.
I tried to distract myself with my work. That at least seemed to be positive for once. The kids were gleeful and Mom and Dad both seemed content. Watching them in that moment felt both like a terrible lie and a profound truth. The way they were was not the way they were but rather it was a reflection of the way they could be. They were gentle, they were kind, they were joyous.
Even still, my attention was unfocused and kept wandering towards the beautiful figurine atop the shimmering, Christmas tree. Mom and Dad stayed up for a bit after the kids went to bed and then nearly forgot about me atop the T-rex on the T.V. Dad came stumbling out moments later, rubbing his eyes and muttering to himself. He grabbed me rudely by my head and then just stood there in the living room for a moment. Finally he glanced towards the one source of light in the room and before I knew it, I was embracing the very object of my affection, the angel.
Dad left and the room was silent save for the sound of Buddy’s snoring. I just hung there for a bit, awkwardly gazing into her lifeless, plastic eyes.
“She’s just a toy…” I told myself.
So then in the pursuit of avoiding boredom, I decided to wake her up and see what she might possibly have to say. Except, I did my thing and nothing happened.
I cleared my throat, refocused my attention and did my thing again. Still nothing. Panic was starting to set in as it occurred to me that if I was losing my abilities that it might mean that I was being deactivated. I’d heard the boys at the Twirly Squirly talk about how that just happened sometimes but I had just been promoted; I was on the fast track to Shelf success.
Suddenly, I felt a strangeness in the air, like a tickle. I scanned the room for danger and all I could see was Buddy, nearly comatose on the couch and chasing imaginary rabbits. I decided that I was freaking myself out for no reason and made a concerted effort to calm myself down when I turned back towards the angel and noticed that there was something different about her eyes, something deeper…
“Boo!” She said and I flung myself from her body, screaming like a child and fell with a painful thump to the ground.
When I opened my eyes I immediately looked back towards the top of the tree and the angel was gone. My heart was beating loudly in my ears and the back of my head was throbbing as I painfully rose to my feet and tried to regain my bearings. The room was lit in dim shades of green and red and yellow from the lights on the tree. I moved slightly and the carpet below my toes sounded like an earthquake in the deadly silent room. The angel was nowhere to be seen. That’s when I felt one hand grip my elbow and something sharp poke against my throat.
“If you move,” she said. “You die.”