On a nightstand on the edge of its master’s bed, an old orange cup sat and waited. It was a simple cup – short and squat, with a handle just big enough for a child’s hand to grasp. In its heyday apple juice flowed out like mother’s milk. It was requested constantly by its master, and was a vital necessity when the child was ill and dehydrated. It used to give life. But the orange cup hadn’t seen a small child in nearly two decades. Instead, it seemed as though it had been sentenced to spend the last several years barred from the human touch. It was stuffed into a box, then a cupboard, and then a new box. The cycle repeated as the master – once a small, wide-eyed girl with a freckled complexion and crooked teeth – moved from home to home and grew up into adulthood. The cup was brilliant and glossy when it first arrived, but overuse and then near total abandonment left it frail. It was no longer shiny, instead it appeared so dull and dry that if you poured water into it you’d half expect the old cup to absorb the liquid right before your eyes. The orange cup would fight its dry breath and with chapped lips and urgency it would beg, “So… thirsty.”
The orange cup passed the time by reliving its memories of a long ago past. It would strike up a long winded conversation with any object that would listen. Often it would begin with a deep, wheezing sigh and say, “I remember the time she got chickenpox. Oh she was so thirsty then! I swear her mother would bring me to her over a dozen times a day. I was absolutely filthy, and there was a slime starting to grow around my lips. Oh, it was just heaven. But now,” the cup would suddenly change its tempo, as if a dark gray cloud hovered over it threatening to rain but never giving moisture to its parched mouth, “now, that ungrateful twat just ignores me. I’m stuffed in the back of a windowless cupboard. At most, her fingers graze past me and they grab a plain old boring glass. Hell, half the time she drinks right out of the carton from the fridge – I seen her do it, I tell you!”
Usually by this time, whatever unfortunate thing it had cornered into a conversation has tuned out, turned its back, and frantically searched for an escape. Sometimes, though, something will humor the cup, as it so happened that the pen on the nightstand did that evening.
“You mean you saw her drink from a carton? Barbaric!” The uninspiring ball-point pen with the words ‘Brown and Bigelow’ printed on the side said. What it lacked in originality it made up for with mischief.
“You know, I heard that sometimes she even drinks out of paper cups. Can you believe that?”
“What? That’s hideous. Who told you that?” The orange cup gasped.
“And then they just get thrown away. Just like trash. One use – not even given a bath afterwards. Oh, I hear a lot of things.”
“Well, what else have you heard?” The cup inquired. “You know, I always wondered why she doesn’t get sick anymore. Do you know if she stopped spitting out those chewable vitamins? Oh dear, is she actually taking them?”
The pen turned, and as its shiny white and blue surface caught the light cast by the nearby lamp the cup swore an angel had appeared before it. Bathed in heavenly light the pen leaned closer and whispered, “Oh, she definitely takes her vitamins.”
The orange cup moaned and nearly fainted, but the pen quickly stood beside it to support it. While they leaned against each other the pen continued, “And I know she never goes outside with wet hair anymore, she blow-dries it after every shower. I hear her in there every day. And she hums when she’s drying her hair, too. It’s as if she’s trying to get rid of you!” The pen smirked while the cup dropped its eyes to the ground in disbelief. Telling fantastic stories always tickled the pen’s ink.
“No, that can’t be true. She used to always cry so hard when her mother dried her hair, she swore she wouldn’t when she got older – “
“Oh she’s been doing a lot of things she swore she’d never do. Believe me – I’ve seen her journals.”
The cup quivered, and would have likely cried if it had the tears to do so. “But… it can’t be. Wait – why would she have brought me to the nightstand if she wasn’t going to use me? There has to have been a reason! I’d bet there’s a pitcher of orange juice, or Kool-aid, or heck, even water somewhere in this room. That must be it,” it said while searching frantically for a jug or jar, anything to cling to for hope. The pen didn’t say a word, it just began to chuckle knowingly. It leaned back against the lamp just in time to observe what happened next.
The blankets began to rustle on the bed, limbs moving every which way. A tanned, hairy arm emerged from under the covers and with a groan it reached towards the nightstand. It dropped a slick, sticky, oozing piece of rubber into the orange cup. As the master of the cup stuck her head out alongside the stranger’s head, the pen snickered. The cup screamed bloody murder. Full of rage and betrayal, and without hesitation, it committed suicide by jumping from the nightstand. Its pieces were scattered on the floor overnight – the handle snapped off, a condom drying to its edge. The next day it was tossed out in the trash, without even so much as a bath. The pen wrote out on the journal beside it, Another victim. This was the big one – a childhood relic. Who shall we kill next?
Patti Lynn Henry was delivered in a blizzard in February of 1984 by a drunk doctor who nearly fainted at the sight of a baby with a disintegrated umbilical cord. She’s faced countless tragedies, both real and imaginary, ever since. She’s a hostage of her home town of Northfield, MN. When Patti isn’t busy writing, she’s dressing her cats up in costumes and burying the photographs in her garden.