The Extinction Museum: Exhibit #207 (Glass Coke Bottle—Labeled “Helium”)

By Tina May Hall

June 21, 2021

The Extinction Museum: Exhibit #207 (Glass Coke Bottle—Labeled “Helium”)

Parties were for destroying. You hit the patient hero with a stick until he broke open to rain down candy. Every wall was filled with pinholes and sword dents. In the backyard, your friends tore up the grass in handfuls, sundering unwary worms, leaving gouges to slip on after rain. One boy nearly drowned trying to bite an apple. Another boy was bound up in the sheet you were using for tug-of-war and left to moulder, shrouded, under the patio table. A small girl, sibling of a guest, wandered into the rosebushes, which produced only thorns, and had to be shorn free, leaving a chunk of blonde for the chickadee nests. Breath by breath, the candles were snuffed. Overhead, balloons floated into the power lines, drifted to the coasts to choke sea creatures. The boy with nut allergies brought his own cupcake but split his lip on the rusty paving stones. The trampoline collapsed and emitted tarantula groans. Through it all, you shone happily. You had demanded I make you your own cake (not for sharing), and late that night, when the day expired, I found you, under your bed, crusted with frosting, dreaming of war and horses and wind-up butterflies. When I lifted you onto the mattress, I realized that soon I wouldn’t be able to hold you, that you would grow and grow until the house cracked, and you would float off too, someday, in search of new things to break and heal and break again.  


Tina May Hall is the author of The Physics of Imaginary Objects and The Snow Collectors. Her work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Quarterly West, Black Warrior Review, The Collagist, and other journals.


Picture by Anders Kristensen courtesy of Pexels

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