A UPS man, a large cardboard box at his feet, was on the porch. The side of the box facing me was perforated and red words warned, "Alive." After signing, I explained that I had a spotty record housing living things—they sickened and died, I told the guy, or worse, they lingered. He appeared sympathetic, so I asked him if he wouldn't mind taking the box around back and putting it on top of the trash. Someone better suited to the care of whatever inhabited that box, I explained, would surely wander by and retrieve it. He wasn't convinced. Under no circumstances, he replied, could he do that; then turned and climbed back into his truck. The box was light. I marched around the side of the house to the alley and set it atop a lidded trash container. I put my ear to the cardboard, listened, heard nothing, and opened it. Inside was an orchid—two spindly stalks each ending in fist-sized magenta blooms. I recognized the handwriting on the decorative envelope as belonging to an ex-girlfriend, a passionate, and forgiving young woman, who, before giving up on me had died, and lingered numerous times. I tipped my head back and looked up at the wires slicing the sky into wedges. Had purpose or reason anything to do with the arrangement? Suddenly at my side was old man Zwick, an alley-walker decked out top-to-bottom in Bulls sweats and Nike hi-tops. Looking down at the orchid, Zwick's face twisted in puzzlement. "You just gonna leave it?" Zwick had nothing but time, so I told him everything.
Michael K. Meyers teaches in the graduate writing program at The School of The Art Institute in Chicago.
His quick fiction and audio have appeared in Chelsea, Chicago Noir, Fringe, Nano, Quick Fiction, The New Yorker,
Word Riot, and elsewhere.