The Wax Menagerie
I slid off the torn seat of my father’s truck, juggling books, two paper bags, grabbing for them, my glasses slipping, failing as everything smacked onto the sidewalk. Standing at the school gate, Serena sneered. I hated Serena.
I bumped into class late, bags crackling, books thumping to the floor. Slid into my seat.
Mrs. Bedrosian frowned at me. “Zoe, why don’t you show our museum guest what you brought for our exhibit?”
My cheeks burned as I set the brown bag that wasn’t my lunch on my desk.
I brought out the tiny red elephant first. Its head was squashed against its body, its ears flattened. Serena sneered, her crossed leg swinging.
“What is that?” asked Mrs. B.
The kids stretched in their chairs to see, others stood; some were sniggering.
I brought out the giraffe. Put him next to the elephant. Its neck was folded and stretched down to its knees. It was red too. Everyone crept closer, even the lady from the museum.
I set the two swans on my fingers. They still faced each other, but now they were kissing.
Serena leaned over to poke at the swans.
“Where’d you get those?”
I lifted my chin so we were looking eye to eye. I pushed my glasses up on my nose. “My dad made them.”
“The wax from Babybels,” I said.
Serena’s face crinkled and there was a titter of laughter.
I stared at the animals. How could they not see the magic of this menagerie?
I picked up the elephant, warmed it in cupped hands, reshaped it. I did the same with the giraffe.
“Don’t fix the swans. I like them kissing.” The museum lady beamed. “Class, many works of art come to us damaged and it’s our job to put them back the way they were. It’s called ‘restoration.’ ”
Mrs. B clapped and the rest of the class did too. I grinned and as the museum lady placed my dad’s animals on top of the bookshelf, Serena glared at me. For once, I didn’t care.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
A slow blush of early morning sky. Dewy light reflected across a meadow. Morning heat against one’s shoulders, the feel of grit beneath one’s nails, the scent of soil. The translucent sheen between clouds lacing a late afternoon’s pale blue. Tangerine melting into verdant land stretching into sea. The soft touch of air on cheeks, napes of necks. A star-pricked night. Jasmine. Fingers brushing hand, slow steps, bodies turning toward each other’s warmth, his breath, her lips, their tongues. These things.
Gay Degani, a resident of Los Angeles, has had four flash stories nominated for Pushcart consideration, published a full-length collection, Rattle of Want (Pure Slush Press, 2015), and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). She blogs at Words in Place.