Clementine by Andrew Ciaccio

They say that you know something’s right by the way it feels. So when I pick up this can at a stranger’s house on a Friday night, I know it’s the one for me.

The can opens up easily. It doesn’t try too hard to be sweet, but isn’t at all flat. I’m naturally drawn to its effortless effervescence. It makes me feel more like myself the more we mix together. Thinner and taller with a wider mouth, my can even has a clear take on life tattooed across the front: “100% Natural, 0% Compromise.” The words are the color of clementine, as if this very essence comes from within and, due to excess pressure, pushes out for everyone to see.

No, there will be no compromising.

The can is the way it is.

That doesn’t mean I can’t drain it of everything it has. Or crush it under my foot. Or cave it in with my hand. That I can’t pick it up then set it aside then pick it back up and leave it at the bar, empty and cold, condensation streaming down its face. Whatever I do, it’s still what it is. 

Tonight, our paths cross, our mouths touch, but that’s as far as it will go. I’ll leave drunk and spent and the can will stay here in the care of strangers without a parting thought. Not a “Thank you” or “You were just what I was looking for” or “I know you’ll go on to do something special.” I have a way of using things and never really thinking about them. One tall, thin, tatted-up can just leads to the next.

Lost in all this candid thought, I fall asleep at the table. When I come to, I’m alone. The sun is rising and the blinds aren’t drawn, so the light illuminates a sight I won’t forget. Cans of all kinds, of all shapes and colors and backgrounds, splayed out on the table in front of me. Some are still leaking fluids, others have been stripped of their tops, used as ashtrays or worse. 

I pick up the cans one by one, starting with mine. I carry them out to the garage and lay them down in the recycling bin. I hope that they will move on and change form and forget me.

Andrew got his start in the word business delivering Warren Buffett’s newspaper. Now he makes a living writing commercials. He also writes poetry, prose and text messages. His work has been published in X-R-A-Y Magazine, gravel and Liquid Imagination