/Everywhere in the house, little wind-up animals puttered and buzzed along wobbling arcs. They were made of plastic, filled with tin gears. Some of them breathed sparks from their jaggletooth mouths, or went on wheels, or stole coins when no one was looking, depositing them behind a houseplant for later. This is the way of small things.

The owner of the house presided over them from his place on the floor, youngish, handsomish, and alone. He imagined himself this way. Sometimes he would go online and buy a bulk box of the toys or bid on an older one he had an eye on. Mostly, though, he’d sit there or lie there, and when one of them came back to him he would pick it up, feel its movement in his palm, wind it to bursting, and send it off again. He did not believe any object that could move on its own had the capacity to be junk.

Once the owner of the house had wanted to kill himself, and then later he didn’t want that. When he opened up to people about that time he wished he had an answer as to why. Why, both feelings, wanting/not wanting. If he did, he might not be so afraid of feeling either of them again, of that slow, halting descent down or that effortful and possibly meaningless ascent up the ladder from the contentment he’d settled into, a contentment found easily, a contentment that comes when you twist a grooved plastic knob between thumb and forefinger, feel it click through as the spring tightens, store up a little bit of yourself in something very small and let it go.

Photo used under CC.