Friday, October 12, 2007

Kool-Aid Man

"Happiness is a tall glass of Kool-Aid." I laugh at my adolescent innocence. I found it in a box in my parent's attic, dog-eared, folded three times. It had lived the past ten years in obscurity, mingling with homework assignments that showed little effort and less imagination.

It's a picture of me, broad bulbous head, rosy cheeks, long haystack yellow hair, and spindly arms and legs. Back then I must have thought I didn't have a torso.

I know I have one now though, because despite the break in depression, I still feel as though my heart is going to beat out of my chest. In the distance, lacking any true sense of perspective, my parent's are drawn in next to our house.

There I am, standing next to Kool-Aid man, the bright red contents of his innards splashing seductively, ready to be consumed. He looks immortal, but it makes you wonder: If you took a straw to Kool-Aid man and drank him dry, would he die?

The thought makes me laugh. Mascots are lucky. They never die, the just reach their moratorium, their sell-by-date.

After staring at the picture for awhile I fold it and put it away, sandwiching it between a report on the lower intestine (graded: C), and a book report on "The Greening of Treehorn" (graded: B-).

I push the box into a corner of other stuff I plan to throw away. I stand up and realize that I've finished. Everything's been divided, some of it worth keeping and some not.

It's sad to see how small the keep pile is.

Part of me wants to save everything, as if a receipt that bears my father's signature somehow contains the life force that was once the man. Part of me wants to throw it all away, burn it all, because no matter what good memories I have about these things, no matter what I remember, they will always be tainted with the pain of my parent's death.

So it's an impasse, my sorrowed mind is balanced between destruction and salvation.

Unwilling to make a decision, I find the box with my school work and rifle through it, discarding paper left and right until I find it, that picture of me, with Kool-Aid man, my parents in the background.

I unfold it and take out my lighter, and set fire to one of the edges. I watch it burn until it's nearly up to my fingers, the fire feasting on the dry, aged construction paper.

When I can truly feel the heat on my hand I drop what's left to the floor, and stamp the fire out. Everything I drew is gone, me, my parents, the house, Kool-Aid man. The only thing that's left is a corner with one seared edge.

In the dim room the paper glows like the day it was brand new.

When the smoke clears, I leave the attic, and the house, saving the rest of it for another day.

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