A small brown paper package arrived in the mailbox today, labeled in black capital letters, YOUR CANDY. I opened it and found a ballerina. She sighed, blinked, lay her head down on a goosefeather. I was in love.
A box covered in four kinds of tape, labeled with permanent marker, MINIMUS. I peeled off the clear, the electric, the crimson adhesives and found a model U.S. Pentagon inside. The ballerina did her stretches in the lobby of the Pentagon as I pondered the pragmatics of my new relationship.
A fist-sized acorn, the black capital letters arched across the knotted bottom, MONUMENTAL. I opened it and found a crumpled duct tape inside. The return address was a P.O. Box in Kentucky, a sure sign it was from my ex-, Shaniqua. I know this because she left me for her stepfather, Chuck, the leader of a cult of hairy-chested, Christian Scientist YMCA members who held regular Ouija board sťances for the disembodied voice of Madame Blavatsky. I know this because I discovered them one night finger-feeding calimari from a takeout container while in the act, a scene which precipitated a medical condition that can only be described as Post-Calimari Stress Disorder. The YMCA cult held their rituals in an open field overrun with sorrel, a field bordered by broken civil war era masonry, a "sacred" power site for ghosts of the confederate army. Chuck insisted I go with them one unbearable Sunday in July, so I witnessed the sweatpants, headbands, Reeboks, chest hair up to the chin, all men, all of them sitting in a circle with no shirts. It was then I knew Shaniqua was no longer mine.
A wind-up carousel, twelve inches in diameter, complete with five revolving ponies, decorated with pinhole stars, polka dots, lightning bolts. A wax carnie sat frozen with his right hand on the power lever, the other taking tickets. The cylinder was labeled in black capital letters, SEX MACHINE. Straddling one of the ponies was none other than Mikhail Baryshnikov.
"You look so much bigger on TV," I told him.
"Peoples changes. Times changes," he said, looking despondent.
He offered me the bottle of vodka that stood taller than his head. He had to use both hands with a leg around it to unscrew the cap. He stepped off the carousel, paused in front of the Pentagon to peak into the office where the ballerina had spent the night.
"I didn't know what to feed her, " I said, my voice jumping like an adolescent. The full impact of my failure was imminent.
"You don't know dancers," he said. "What she needs is space, open floor, not swivel chair in U.S. Government office. Impossible to dance on carpet."
Baryshnikov, not wishing to disturb the lovely ballerina, stayed outside. She watched him watch her nod off in between sips from her thimble. I lit a stick of incense that made the ballerina sneeze, and Baryshnikov, ever the gentlemen, cupped his hands and mouthed the words bless you, leaving a trail of steam against the tiny glass window.
A lollipop came in with stamps stuck to the spiral middle. Attached was a tag that read, STRESS RELIEVER. A latch with an emerald knob fell open from the front of the sweet, and out came a spinning nickel. The nickel was unstoppable, as it is said that an object in motion is likely to remain in motion—it spilled out onto the front lawn of the Pentagon.
"Did you know American nickel worth more as raw material, about six cents," said a smiling Baryshnikov, guarding the ballerina from the coin.
She was visibly impressed, and I felt a giant pang of inferiority. I held no cards to attract her, no conversation starters, could come up with nothing better than, "Hey, how about that modern dance thing; pretty freaky, eh?" Baryshnikov remained close to her as we watched the coin flicker and turn.
A box labeled ENORMOUS. I opened it and found a dried mustache inside. I applied spirit gum and set the shriveled hairs on my upper lip. I fit Baryshnikov and the mute ballerina into a bowling bag, despite his attempts to bite the hairs on my wrist. Then I packed the Pentagon, three pairs of Man Ray underwear and a blue and white Hawaiian shirt and stepped outside to the smell of sizzling urine on the sidewalk.
The street was littered with giant foam peanuts, each about the size of a small house. That was when the sky seemed to close down, the unmistakable sound of packing tape, as if stretching to cover the whole world, and I tumbled in darkness over the foam, a total eclipse with no warning. I couldn't see for what seemed like hours, I couldn't see my fingers, and I blanked out for a long time.
A pair of scissors tore through the roof of the earth, cumulous clouds parted by the blades, then hands, hands the size of a Hummer Limousine—she always painted her nails half blue and half black. It was those nails that opened the sky.
"Shaniqua, this isn't funny," I boomed up to her height.
"Me and Baryshnikov over here, we thought you might have enjoyed our little joke." She nodded to the real Baryshnikov, a hundred-storied monster in striped tights whose eyelashes alone could have swept me across the street.
"How could you think that was the real Baryshnikov," he said, sneering. His breath smelled like an onion field. "I don't speak in broken English, you gullible dweeb. I've been living in Canada since before you pissed your bed."
"If you're the real Baryshnikov, then who did you send me?"
"A clone, one of the thousands of new Baryshnikov Live Action Figures made by Gaggle," said Shaniqua.
"Gaggle makes live action figures now?"
"Yeah, you just type in the parameters and they send you a doll in four to six weeks. Computer programming, man."
"But this doesn't make any sense. What happened to Chuck?"
"Shigellosis, left untreated. Technically he died of dehydration. I'm with Mikhail, now." she said, pinching him in the kidneys.
I knew only had seconds to live, so I opened the bowling bag and mauled the imposter Baryshnikov between my thumb and forefinger. The ballerina let out a mute squeal, and Shaniqua blew me an acidic kiss before she descended upon me with the scissors.
David Moscovich founded Louffa Press to promote new, innovative microfictions in limited run, handmade editions. His stories and interviews have appeared in Word Riot, Rain Taxi, The Rumpus, Fringe and others. He has been playing the amplified bicycle for seven years and lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.