A 24-ounce cup flipping skyward, half full of Coke and ice, plastic lid on and straw quivering like a fuse, asphalt twenty feet below, destruction imminent. Bored, I’d thrown it high as I could from a concrete platform, down into the parking lot behind the New York Hot Dog Shop, which was not in New York but in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, which I know had something to do with why I’d chucked the cup in the first place. I was thirteen and life was good and too kind and I wanted to see an ordinary object burst, sugary liquid and cubes flying, a smack loud enough to startle patrons and parents. A mess I’d make and leave.
Instead, soda sloshed through the cup in the air, turning it end over end, one slow perfect rotation, and it stuck the landing, right side up, intact.
I can’t recall if I screamed out to my friends lounging on their skateboards, or if I stood there dumb. I know I felt a surprise dangerously close to joy. I gripped the rusted handrail and stared at the cup, thwarted and awed, suspecting even then that I’d remember what I’d just seen forever: a cosmic slap to the head, a miracle of laws and accident. The world saying, you are not in control, but look.
Dorian Fox is a writer and editor living in Boston, where he teaches writing at GrubStreet. His essays and articles have appeared in december, Under the Gum Tree, Gastronomica, National Parks Magazine, and elsewhere.