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The Art of Being Disposable

A year in the life of an unfinished chapstick

By D.K. ShepardPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
The Art of Being Disposable
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

I’d been dropped by you before. Many times, in fact. I learned quickly that you’re rather clumsy.

This time was different. The clamor I made against the car door and seat mechanism was drowned out by the bass of the song on the radio. You took no notice of my fall.

There was some softness in landing as I rolled across the floor mat and the dusty layer of hair that covered it.

I’ve known darkness too: the inside of your pocket, the bottom of your purse, interior of your desk drawer. This wasn’t as dark, but the glimmer of light inches away in all directions somehow seemed more hopeless.

But surely you would notice my absence. It was a sunny spring day and the supple skin of your lips would crave my SPF 15. You’d search for me when you returned. In a few hours I’d be grasped in your hand again.


I expected too much from you. I should have known better. You forget to close drawers and replace the toilet paper roll. Why did I have any confidence you would remember me and try to find me?

Spring turned into summer. My insides melted and went sideways. Then they melted again and again. I never felt the sunshine on my plastic but I boiled in its thick heat too many times to count. You just had to have a car with a black interior.

You were right above me day after day, but never once peeked down or reached below the seat on which you sat. I heard you sing along to the same songs over and over while I was shaken by the rumbling of the road.

I wasn’t alone, but I almost wish I had been. The two pennies and the nickel were lousy company, for seven cents they had no sense. The granola bar wrapper was all empty noise.

The day the Free Medium Drink coupon slipped down into our midst I thought there was a chance of being discovered. You love free things.

But your forgetfulness knows no bounds. And the coupon, it expired.

Then that morning in October it all happened again. I heard the clattering as if from a dream. First plastic on plastic, then plastic on metal.

Then there he was. My brother. My twin.

The solace of shared misery seemed at hand.

But then there was your hand. Reaching about blindly. You caught him up in your grasp and retrieved him for yourself.

Why him? Why not me? How many of us have there been? How could you be so careless?

But then I was designed for the likes of you. I’m the cheap option, the easily replaced option. Generic.

Fall came and went. Then the bitter cold of winter arrived. I’d freeze for hours then thaw when you’d blast hot engine air to warm your feet.

I thought we’d all be saved the day the phone clattered into our midst, its glowing screen setting our dim world ablaze with light. It’s nearly an extension of your appendages. You couldn’t bear to be parted from it.

But you were single minded, having only eyes for the precious device. Once it was back in your clutches, you moved on.

We remained.

You’re lazy too. A whole year passed. Dirt, grass, and leaves mingled with the dust and hair. A few more wrappers joined the collection.

It seemed I would be a permanent fixture in this vehicle.

But then one day a loud whooshing filled the air. Sucked up all the air. Sucked me up! I was suddenly wedged in plastic jaws.

Spring cleaning: A car wash and vacuuming.

You noticed me. Well actually you noticed I was blocking the suction. You pried me free. The brightness of pure daylight surrounded me.

You held me up and examined me. You twisted my cap free. Then took one look at my messed up insides and tossed me.

I lost the light again. I’d been disposed of.

In a trash can full of things discarded I’d await my final journey. Landfill bound as was always intended.


About the Creator

D.K. Shepard

Character Crafter, Witty Banter Enthusiast, World Builder, Unpublished novelist...for now

Fantasy is where I thrive, but I like to experiment with genres for my short stories. Currently employed as a teacher in Louisville.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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    Creative use of language & vocab

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Comments (5)

  • Rachel Deeming4 months ago

    So funny and yet, I felt so sorry for the chapstick. I don't want it to end up in landfill. How did you do that? I will never look at a chapstick the same again and I'm glad that I threw the one that I found forgotten in my pocket, all squished inside, away before today as I may have had to construct a shrine to it instead.

  • Gabriel Huizenga4 months ago

    Makes me think of my many lost chapsticks...incredible work!

  • Penny Fuller4 months ago

    This. Was. Awesome. I really found myself rooting for that poor little chapstick!

  • Hannah Moore4 months ago

    I'm left feeling kind of guilty...

  • Abby Kay Mendonca4 months ago

    Truly loved this one!

D.K. ShepardWritten by D.K. Shepard

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