In a Jar

In a Jar

A Story by Shadkim

Sometimes it is harder to forgive yourself...



In a Jar
            Raleigh was not the first man seen with a brown paper bag in the park.
Hyacinth Side Park was situated on the edge of downtown, only blocks away from homeless shelters and shabby poor folk wandering the streets like zombies in the dusk or nightfall. The park was not gated. And the park benches were more comfortable than the ground.
 Lowering his chalky fedora on top of his greasy head, Raleigh kept out the blinding orange light of the fading sun. He walked briskly to the lake, turning his head this way and that. Children played tag on the concrete, rolled around in the abundant grass was their parents looked on. A group of teenagers posed in gaudy dresses in front of the swan-infested waters.
“Fancy seeing you here,” said a voice, off to his side.
Raleigh lifted his head and smirked. “Still working, Will? I thought you got off an hour ago.”
Will shook an empty garbage bag and carefully wrapped it around the lip of the metal basket. His sunglasses were dark and metallic red, his skin sun-kissed and wavy hair shoved under a cap. His nametag attracted the remaining light. “Rent went up.”
“I see.”
Will lifted the full garbage bag and slung it over his shoulder; the weight of it made him slouch. “It’s the end of the year. You should be grading papers now, not lurking around here.”
“I shoved those nasty things in my desk. Maybe I’ll find them later if I care enough.”
Will laughed. “Good luck with that.”
The lake looked like a vast net, catching the perspiration from the sun and letting the drops dance on its surface. Raleigh shucked of his blazer and dropped it on the bench beside him. He rested the paper bag between his legs. The salty breeze could not reach his hair in hiding, but it felt good on his face, like a damp cloth. The benches on either side of him were occupied by strangers; they could have been mere shades, for all Raleigh cared. His eyes lowered to the bag in his lap, and all peaceful thoughts of the breeze disappeared like powder.
His bare arms lit orange as his eager fingers curled back the crumbled top like a banana peel. He noticed briefly the red ring of agitated skin on one finger. His heart lurched, and he shook it off. The bag fell to pieces in his lap. Curling and decorating the circular sidewalk.
His hands wrapped around a glass jar. Raleigh brought it up to his face, almost touching his nose. He could see the sunset pierce through the aging glass, decorated with fingerprints and smears of caked dust. His eyes narrowed. His lips twisted into a deep frown.
Green grass teased the bottom of the jar, the kind one uses to stuff an Easer basket. The kind that escapes the trash and sticks to the rugs and tile. Shaved tissue paper. Black and white feet were hidden in the shaved tissue paper, and tiny legs stood pressed together underneath a vintage, flower-print dress. The legs, the black and white, the dress – belonged to a paper doll cutout child from days of old. The small round face was covered by a thimble crown, only leaving tiny bowed lips in a pout. Her hands were clasped together, and a star-studded wand protruded from her fingers. Purple butterfly wings clung to her grey back.
Raleigh shook the jar; it became a blur in his hands. The little paper fairy did not move. Glued to the grass. To the bottom. The pout was the child’s strongest feature. She was as grey as the past, a remnant of an old movie reel. Raleigh tugged the label off the jar and held the piece of paper up to his eyes. A message was scrawled in tiny, curly letters:
Do not release this fairy from her cage. Beware, or her vengeful powers will be a wrath no mortal can face.
“I could have guessed that,” Raleigh muttered. He held out his hand for the wind to take the warning away. He watched it tumble down the sidewalk, past the bulky shades, and up the hill to where downtown traffic converged. He made new marks on the jar. He thought about his choices. Not about the papers crunched in his desk, nor of the metal missing from his newly naked finger. Something more inconsequential.
“I wish I could see your eyes.”
The thimble slid over her nose.
“Would you really hurt me if I let you go? I didn’t cage you.”
A woman with large glasses, too much blush, and crafty hands did. Her shop was a virtual heap of knick-knacks, priceless artwork a twenty dollar bill could buy. She kept a long row of jars.
“Who were you, before you became a fairy? When were you born?”
The woman smiled at the man. Her eyes flickered over his vest and fedora. Her palm spread, expecting. His frown, his look of horror at the jars, never broke her smile. She revealed her stained teeth.
“Would my daughter have looked like you?”
“Made it myself,” the woman bragged.
Raleigh took the jar in one hand and left his blazer on the bench. The water danced in its hole and the sunlight beckoned him downwards as it dipped below the surface. He kicked of his shoes but left his socks on. His wrinkled pants brushed against the craggy steps and sunk into the water. The wind speckled him with misty droplets and he breathed in the melancholy of the musky lake scent. His hands trembled as he held the jar, standing ankle deep in the waters. The lid was tight, and for a moment, Raleigh thought it had been glued shut. He gritted his teeth and pulled until his skin hurt, and finally the sparkly lid let go. He let it drop, and heard the lid plop into the water. He slipped his index and middle finger into the jar and grabbed the fairy’s thimble crown. He pulled and pulled, and finally the glue anchoring her to the bottom of the jar gave way too. The fairy child waved like a flag in his grasp. He couldn’t see her lips.
“Be free.”
The child with the wand used her wings for the first time. She became a dark spot against the sun, and Raleigh lifted the brim of his fedora to watch.
“Will you send your wrath to me now?”
The edges of the purple wings ripped away. The child spun to the earth, a black and white specter against submerging rays. She rested on the surface of the water and flashed her bowed pout to Raleigh one last time. The paper fairy curled in on itself and sunk into the inky abyss.
Raleigh did not dive for the paper girl. His left brain told him the water already destroyed it. His right brain told him to just cry. And so he did. The red skin on his finger itched, and through blurry eyes, Raleigh fruitlessly sought the golden shine that should have been there. The aging glass jar slipped from his hands. He shivered and sat on the steps, his feet being nipped by pebbles and weeds.
He waited for vengeance. 

© 2009 Shadkim

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That almost made me cry. Raleigh was so hopeless, so sad, it tugged at the heartstrings. Not to nitpick, but there's only one thing wrong; "Raleigh shucked of his blazer and dropped it on the bench beside him." Of should be off. Otherwise the story was impeccable. Wow.

Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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Added on April 13, 2009



Tampa, FL

I'm 21, and I am a senior English Major at FSC. I don't usually write poetry - my passion is prose, specifcially things like fantasy, adventure, romance and mystery. However, I like to try out all dif.. more..

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