Once I made my mother pull the car over so I could retrieve a stuffed dog from the side of the road: gritty, rain-soaked, a frayed felt tongue. I gave it a bath, replaced its faded cardboard eyes with buttons. I hoped that the child who’d lost it would know that it was safe. I spend long hours at Goodwill, digging for treasure, smelling other people in the folds of flannel shirts, filling 50 cent bags with t-shirts and and mismatched china and cheap jewelry and foot-molded shoes still warm from their wearers: orphans, unwanted. They needed a home, and someone to listen.
As I grew older I scavenged for words: quizzes and clippings, cartoons and quotations and ad copy and stories, the crumpled receipts in my wallet. I go through the junk mail, follow instructions to the letter. Anything with words on it I read, and cannot throw away. Someone wrote those words once. There’s something in them that wants to be let out.
Ever since I got a toy typewriter for my fifth birthday I’ve tried to make another world out of words and step into it and stay there: story after story, novels in drawers, recycled myths. But I keep coming back to the doctor’s office and the grocery store and my email inbox, and I’m forced to realize I cannot escape the world and all its discarded litter. Maybe I don’t even want to. There are stories in the receipts, the emails, the stuffed animals and the used shoes, and I want to try to tell them.
©2016 Melinda Rooney