“I Kept the Nickel,” by Lauren Becker

Jul 20th, 2009 | By | Category: Poetry

I kept the address labels. The nickel, too.

The night of the day I used the first label, I dreamed of starving
orphaned children with distended stomachs. They told me I should have
sent the nickel back, along with a generous check and a stamp to save
the charity the cost of postage. I ignored the children and returned
to my dream about eating ice cream with Angela Lansbury. Her favorite
flavor is strawberry, a rare choice.

The labels were decorated with puppies in various settings. Grocery
shopping. Driving a car. Checking e-mail. Playing racquetball. The
charity used the dogs to manipulate me, which pissed me off. I
considered throwing them out, but I didn’t ask the charity to make me
adorable personalized address labels and I didn’t want to be wasteful.
When someone puts my name on a birthday cake, I eat it. This has
never happened, but, if it did, I would be gracious and have a slice,
even if I wasn’t hungry.

I mailed a check to my dentist, using the athletic cocker spaniel. I
dreamed that my teeth fell out. I tried to eat some birthday cake,
but it made me drool and got all over on my face. I put the cake in
the blender with some milk and drank it with one of the red straws I
took from Wendy’s.

I sent my rent check yesterday, using the label with a Labrador
writing an e-mail. I dreamed it was addressed to me. I opened it and
read it. It said screw that charity. Let’s go play some racquetball,
then get the poodle to drive us to the store for some cake. You still
got that nickel?


Lauren Becker lives in Oakland, California. Her work has been published in Pindeldyboz, Storyglossia, Wigleaf, Pank, and elsewhere.  She likes e-mail, bubble gum and carbonated beverages.

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