Last On the Shelf

I see her saunter down the aisle like a bridesmaid, beautiful, proud, and ignored. Of course, she’s wearing the pajama pants I bought her last Christmas, so it’s not like she’s actually trying to impress anyway. But she looks just as angelic as she always does, especially with that smile that says there’s snow outside. By the size of it, I’m guessing it’s the first snow of the season.

It feels just like the first time that we met; she dazzles under awful lighting, while I hang back on a shelf of some kind praying that she’ll notice me. That was six years ago, at a dive bar downtown; this time it’s at TARGET and I’m nothing but a box of LIFE Cereal left over the holiday past its expiration date. Still, I’ve probably got more going for me now than I did then, what with the lightly sweetened whole grain oats and low sodium. Six years ago, I couldn’t even afford to buy her a drink, and we still connected. Now, I can at least offer her a healthy and delicious start to her day, but somehow our relationship might be changed.

Did Jesus ever resurrect as an inanimate object? Maybe a cane, or donkey shit? I wonder if I’m eaten, will I resurrect again as something else, will I wake in heaven, where I can look down on her until she’s ready to join me? And what if no one eats me — what if one of these ignorant TARGET employees notices the expiration date on my side, and throws me in the trash? Will I rot, and die, and resurrect again, maybe as a box of Lucky Charms?

I try to wriggle, or move, or shake, something to make her take notice of me. Some way to make her take me home. But even my box is dull and nondescript, hardly the kind of thing that could excite a child, let alone an adult.

I wonder if this is punishment of some kind, purgatory for the wrongs I did in life. But the car accident that killed me wasn’t my fault — the other guy ran a light, well over the speed limit, and I just happened to be passing through the intersection. Is this God’s way of giving me another chance at life, perhaps? In my former life, I died too young (at least, in my opinion). This time, I’ve already outlived my own expiration date — but it still doesn’t feel like enough.

My thoughts stop racing just long enough for me to notice that she’s stopped in front of me, swiftly scanning through the shelves with her wide, multicolored eyes. She peruses so quickly when she’s shopping — I was never able to keep up with her. She makes her down from the top; she always scans top to bottom, right to left.

Finally, we make eye contact. Or at least I think we do, and she’s looking at the name on the front of my box. She purses her lips and smiles, and whispers to herself, “This was always his favorite breakfast.” For just one moment, I’m back in her arms again, held tightly against her warm chest; it seems to last a lifetime, and when I resurrect, I’m still a box of LIFE cereal, but now I’m sitting at the bottom of a grocery basket, going home with the woman of my dreams.

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