Leftovers

Photo by Joshua Gresham

It is the first of January, there is a shrink-wrapped package of hamburger patties in his freezer, and he does not want to throw them out.

The patties were not good when he bought them, along with their long-ago eaten and digested brethren, back in July. And they are certainly not good now. But he cannot bear to part with them, in the same way that he will not be able to camp through a thunderstorm for years to come. When the news arrived, when the text message found its way out of the ether, through the fog of NO SERVICE and onto his phone, when he flipped the thing open to see what there was to be said, rain was pouring down off of his tarp and the sky was shaking around him. He’d just set a burger aside; there was too much char and too little meat, though he’d been looking forward to eating all four after the morning’s hike and swim. But then, there was the message, the undeniable truth of it in 160 characters, all nuance lost. Any hug he might have imagined for himself had he been able to hear his sisters’ voices instead of simply reading their words — that was gone, too.

He’d meant to share the burgers with his father when Dad showed up at camp later that afternoon, or maybe the next day if the rain kept him home for one more night. And though he knows now that he will never get to sit at that picnic table in the woods and listen to the old man dissect the problem of processed meats and American consumerism in the 21st century, that the picnic table is covered with snow now, his father covered with dirt, he cannot bear to throw the frozen patties away.

So he throws away the ice cream instead, the ice cream that will not fit. Because: fuck ice cream. It’s January anyway. What was he thinking?


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