Each day during recess he walks the grounds looking for a trinket to preserve. A backpack’s zipper. A brightly colored pebble. A Canadian quarter, once. Sometimes, when he’s lucky, a girl’s earring, even. After recess, without breaking eye contact with Mrs. Townsly, he reaches into his desk’s cubbyhole for the bottle of Elmer’s glue he’s hiding in the back, pushing aside a box of crayons, the rectangular calculator with rounded edges, a handful of loose colored pencils, unsharpened, the schoolbox which encloses his own enclosures. He holds the bottle upside down and lets the glue fall to the tip. He doesn’t risk detection. He is already neurotic this way. Smiling at Mrs. Townsly, not breaking eye contact, he puts down the first layer, pours it into the sunken pencil trough he has never used for pencils. Then he waits. This is when he learns something from Mrs. Townsly. After a few minutes he places the trinket on the drying glue, adds a second layer on top of it, waits again, learns something else. He covers the pencil trough with a piece of dark blue construction paper before going home for the day. Overnight, he thinks about his glue drying—the trinket enclosed within it. Eventually he sleeps. At school the next day he scrapes up the whole thing, slides it into his schoolbox, refuses to examine it. He wants to fill the schoolbox until it’s bursting open, overflowing with these strange, immutable artifacts, and then, finally, when enough time has passed, he will admire all of them together, one after another—and another.
Michael Shirzadian lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he studies and teaches rhetoric at Ohio State University. Before Columbus, he lived in Grants, New Mexico, where he taught high school English, and Boulder, Colorado, where he received an MFA in fiction from the University of Colorado. His stories and essays have appeared in Word Riot, theNewerYork, Identity Theory, The Subtopian, more. He was born in Columbus some time ago.