The girl was a confiscator and convalescer of cans. They were migrating everywhere, in weeds, on sidewalks, park benches, thrown on sides of highways, just waiting for someone to unleash them from their plight. She always carried a plastic bag in her back pocket. Budweiser, Coke, Sprite, Pabst Blue Ribbon, they were invincible and invisible. She smacked her shoes into them, clanked around until the cans were more pliable to work with. Made concrete walls, layer upon layer, and lamps out of them. Toilet covers, lunch boxes, frames for mirrors and paintings, journal and book covers, even a warrior wig for some guy’s Halloween costume.
When she was a kid, she realized the inherent sustainability of being unseen in seen terrain. People cut into each other, slapped the character out of cardboard, bit glass shards through the necks of bottles.
Dad whipped cans at mom when words wouldn’t travel as far.
“You think you have the goddamn right?” he’d holler, until one day his wind deflated and got hooked up to oxygen tanks.
Mom was a stonewall that beer cans and words bounced off of. She was silent and intangible as any can discarded in the grass. Whenever the girl cried or screamed with joy the mom would say, “Hills and valleys, child, hills and valleys.” The girl didn’t understand, but was thankful when she felt the breeze of her mom’s voice on her face.
So much beauty is discovered in thrown away objects.
When the girl grew older, the mother did too. The girl started making planetary mobiles out of cans. She sold them to all kinds of stores for babies and adults. She decorated her mom’s room with stars and moons, big to small dippers, Saturn and its rings.
Her mom would lie in bed and try to touch the mobiles above her head. One side of her mouth would smile. She said the left side of her body was unmalleable, hard as tin. She left it behind for the doctors to salvage. Her voice slurred and pressed in on the girl like blasts of gusts escaping from the tiny spaces of unsealed windows. “Look,” she’d point at the dangling cans. “My girl discovered how to make hills out of valleys.”
The girl didn’t want all the necklaces from the store rack that she slipped into her coat pocket the size of a rural mailbox opening, but did want friends to notice that she wasn’t as afraid as the tremors that spread across her face like the make-up and lipstick she just palmed in her hand that would only make her imperfections brighter, more shrill when one of her friends got too close to her and whispered secrets about other girls that could have been her pimples, flat chest, crazy thoughts, secrets that her mom told her would save her from the captivity of convention, anchor her within her own breed of otherness, keep her from walking within the lines as her mother slipped a pen and notebook into the girl’s pocket and went back to confiscating the wail of wind in stranger’s depressed faces, demolished buildings, the bruised colors of the girl’s interior with a paintbrush, humming a soft, velvet tune that the girl wanted to crawl inside larger than her bulging pocket filled with sparkly trinkets she would hand out to friends at school the next day.
You sat up front with glasses that could decipher movement of clocks and spelled ‘reptilian’ correctly to beat me in the spelling bee, so I knew I had to uproot that smugness, blacken it sour so I stole your lunch and you cried, but the damn teacher gave you her sandwich, so I upped the ante, poured water on your crotch and everyone laughed, thought you peed your pants while you wailed and the teacher shooshed all of us, hugged you, and I laid in bed that night and sobbed because I was out of the running and loved you.
’s writing has appeared in numerous journals including Berkeley Literary Review, Epiphany, Superstition Review, One, the Journal, Monkeybicycle and Boston Literary Magazine. She has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. She is author of two short story collections, Bound By Blue (2013) Sententia Books and Domestic Apparition (2011) San Francisco Bay Press. She has published three chapbooks including the latest, Her Skin is a Costume (2013) Red Bird Chapbooks, won the Twin Antlers Collaborative Poetry award from Artistically Declined Press for her poetry collection, Bare Bulbs Swinging, written with Heather Fowler and Michelle Reale, (2014). She is the fiction editor of Santa Fe Literary Review and Connotation Press, teaches at the Santa Fe Community College, and lives in Santa Fe with her husband and menagerie of pets. Her blog: http://megtuite.com