The Ball On the Top Shelf

“I don’t know, Joey. Maybe we should wait for someone to come help us.” I’m hesitant to reach up on the top shelf. I’m hesitant because the little white ladder is flimsy and looks like it will fall apart by just opening it, let alone me standing on it and possibly shifting my weight up on my tiptoes.


“Don’t be a pussy.”


“You always say the nicest things, Joey.”


“Come on, man. You gonna sack up or not?”


I walk to the end of the department store aisle. Little interlocking plastic blocks in flashy boxes line the side to my right. On the left are boxes of squishy foam shapes and plastic guns to hold water. Each step I take I can see the walls inching higher, my footsteps echoing off the plastic and cardboard sentries.


I look to either side, past the people filling the walkways pushing their metal carts. Their heads are lolled to one side. Their mouths hang open and are drooling. Their eyes appear colorless with a bluish hue of faded robin’s egg. They don’t breathe. They just push their carts on the endless trek to nowhere.


One brushes past me, narrowly missing me with his hidden agenda. I turn and go back to Joey, standing with his hands inside of his jeans pockets, his shirt reading You’re a dick. in bold black letters. “I didn’t see any, Joey.”


“Well then. You know what to do.”


I pull out the rickety white step stool, using both hands as I carefully fold it open.





©Ramon Sturdivant


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