To clean a fish-cum-turtle tank, at age eight, delicate devices were required. A quick hot sponge, even with a coarse cleanser, was not enough. A toothbrush, preferably one with hard bristles, flat across, could clear all corners of the vilest of turtle vestiges. I recommend wrapping the handle of the one used on the tank with one of these bandages.
April is turtle season. Not for hunting, but for pet catching. Come around later, and it was clear May was tank cleaning season. All turtles were returned to their homes by then, but they left behind more than memories.
Solving the problem of toothbrushes, however, was unknown to me in these younger years. As it happened, the sale at the Ben Franklin one Saturday brought home two matched brushes in one packet, each blue.
Suited for the bathroom, in the tub, cleaning the tank took only an hour, with rinsing. Church the next morning, rushed as usual with eyes half-closed, had me searching blindly for a toothbrush, for its marketed use. I grabbed the wrong one.
When buying like-colored toothbrushes, take measures such as the one I suggest to identify which is meant for your mouth. The taste will make all the difference.
Contained within this box, protected now for a generation, is a white number two pencil. It is ordinary in form in every way. Half-sized, worn from drawing on schoolbook covers until graphite covered them with my singular rumination of love, Marcella, it will never write again. Imprinted with the name of a local insurance agency, it now exists to please me, to remind me of the days that were.
Its previous owner, the ever-so-kind and ever-so-shy Marcella, gave it to me as we sat in the library quietly. There, together, we wrote poems no one else would read, laughing until class began. When eighth grade ended, she moved, and the pencil stayed.
The box itself is a rich cherry, dark and soft, with a smooth French custard beige lining. Oblong, there is room for two pencils, or a thick bracelet.
Sheltered from the storms of disorganization, I keep it here, in this box, latticed by two strips of cloth. Daily, I look, and my day begins, wondering where Marcella writes poems today.