This story is one of the September Writing Challenge entries chosen to be a featured story.

On my nightstand is a teacup with a few odds and ends. It holds an old pair of purple plastic glasses with a prescription that now makes my vision go fuzzy. There’s a one yen coin from the one and only time I’ve been out of the country. The last thing in the teacup is a folded up green Post-it Note, a bit faded and with a lot of dirt and grime gathered on the sticky section.

You might assume that the teacup is full of junk. Things I really meant to throw away but have been too busy, or perhaps too lazy, to get around to doing so. Things I tossed in the teacup and didn’t think much of afterwards. This is what you’d think if your gaze happened to land on the teacup. This is what I’d tell you if you asked about it. This is what I want you, and everybody else, to think. It might even be what I want to be the truth.

But it isn’t.

The truth is that these items, seemingly insignificant and useless as they are, are my most valued possessions. Below you will find the stories of these items, and perhaps through them, you will come to understand the story of me.

The glasses:

I sat
In my usual seat,
The seat I’d sat in all year.
The seat where everyone went on
Not noticing me all year.

I’d checked out in a daydream
Because why would I stay here?
I could go somewhere else instead,
Somewhere I’d be seen.

But just then my dream was broken
By a squeaky little voice that said,
Hi, Kate!

It was Sarah,
The one everyone liked.
She had glasses, just like me,
But hers were black,
And the lenses all scratched up.

I love your glasses,
She said with a huge grin.
Are they new?
I always wanted glasses
That were some pretty color,
Any color but black.

Yeah, they’re new,
I said, still so surprised
That Sarah,
The one everyone liked,
Was talking to me.

My mom said to get
Black or brown, since those
match with everything,
I told Sarah,
But I said I wanted purple
And we were in a rush,
So she said okay, fine.

Wow, said Sarah,
I wish my mom
Was that cool.
She never lets me
Pick anything,
Even though the glasses
Are for me, not her.

And then Sarah asked
If I wanted to play four square
And I said yeah, sure,
And somehow
Over the course of that year
and I
Became best friends
And stayed that way.

The coin:

You and I,
Mom said,
Were both born back home,
In America.
But your grandma is
From here.

Right here?
I pointed down at the stone walkway,
Mom laughed.
No, from Japan.
Not too far from here, though.
In Osaka, where our plane landed.

Why’d she leave?
I asked,
The dessert here
is so much better!
And there are deer
That you can pet.
We don’t have those,
I said with a frown. 

Well, said Mom,
I think she left
Because Grandpa asked
That she come back with him
And marry him

Oh, I said.
Well I would never
give up good dessert
For some guy
Trying to marry me.
Maybe for Grandpa, though,
I added
After some thought.

Mom smiled,
Reached into her pocket,
And emptied her pocket full of coins
Into my hands
Well then, she said,
Why don’t you go see
If this is enough
For one of those
Ice creams? 

Turns out it was
Just enough,
With only a one yen coin
Left over
Which I tucked into
My own pocket
And thought how
It felt like plastic,
Not a real coin

The Post-it Note:

A hastily written note,
Stuck to the front door
At store
Getting eggs
For that cake
For Lexi’s bday
Be back soon

You could say
It was a lie
Because Mom
Never made it
To the store
Never bought eggs
Never baked a cake
And certainly
Never came back soon
Most definitely
Never came back
At all




Karina Murphy

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