Cold. Olivier was so cold. Dark. Always darkness, and cold. The other eggs didn’t feel the cold, they weren’t like her. Sitting in the dark amongst them, Olivier knew she was different. She was cold.
Sometimes there was light – and Voices. The Voices always accompanied the light; a High Voice and a Low Voice, and sometimes playful voices from below. Then, back to dark…the cold.
“Ew, gross!” the high Voice. “Look at this egg! It’s all watery or something.”
“Whiff….yeah,” the low Voice, “it doesn’t smell right. Throw it out and wash the bowl and start again.”
Movement…the light was so bright!
Into a semi-darkness, Olivier schlopped out. Her receptacle was a moaning, crunching undercurrent of many despairing voices. She collected, for the most part, on a corrugated surface that was metallic and jagged.
“You stink,” it said.
“What are you?” asked Olivier.
“I used to be tinfoil, but now I’m trash.” The tinfoil seemed to think this was funny.
Together, Olivier and the tinfoil caught what they could of the light and shone it about.
To the side, a voice of extreme duress wailed out, “I don’t belong here! Take me out! Wash me! I don’t belong here!”
“What’s wrong with her?” asked Oliver.
“She’s a glass jar. She thinks she’s special ‘cause she can be recycled, but she didn’t make the cut, I guess. Too hard to wash out, ‘eh jammy?” the tinfoil taunted the glass jar, who wailed away in reply.
“Yeah, go on,” grumbled the tin. “Most of us can be recycled, kid, but this is where we end up. Trashed.”
Olivier was afraid to ask. “What’s trash?”
“You stink, kid. I don’t want to spend eternity becoming one with you, even if you do speed decomposition.”
”Wha…?” But the tin was turning, and Olivier was slipping down, downwards…schlopity….over a smooth bag, “Ew, get off me!”…Slipping, ooooze…schlop.
She was caught, all together still! Happy, Olivier settled. Olivier loved this new receptacle, it was round and hard and held her whole…but there were others. A pile of dusties, hundreds of grey fluffy specs were below her, slowly getting soaked up by her, becoming one with her. This was no ordinary dust. These dust bits were humming. As the humming dust became One with Olivier, she realized there were two other, bigger pieces in the round receptacle too.
“Well, hello there. Welcome!” said the bigger piece.
“What…what are you?” queried the humming Olivier.
“What am I, indeed.”
This bigger piece was a grand and important sounding thing.
“I am a W. I’m magnetized.”
Olivier was awestruck.
“When I was out there, I stuck onto the outside of the fridge, on the fridge door. It was wonderful. I was tutor to the Children: weaning them off their baby gibberish into real Words. Ah, the days, until, with a wayward kick only running children can possess, I was whirled away, under the fridge.”
Olivier loved her new companions.
“What’s this humming?”
“Oh, that’s the dust, my dear. The little bits you’ve now soaked into you. You must realize, we were under the fridge for years , always the hum of the fridge all about us. I think those bits will echo that hum forever.”
“Where are we?”
“In the lid, dear.”
“Yes, but she hasn’t spoken ever, really. In shock, I think. She’s just not the same without her jar.”
“That’s sad,” paused Olivier, “but please, where are we all?”
“In the trash, dear, but let’s not dwell on that. I prefer to think of the good old days, the view from under the fridge was so entertaining. The scampering feet, the dancing feet, the dirty old workboot feet. The light sparkling on a newly washed kitchen floor and oh, wonder of wonders, the starlight splashing down through the windows onto the floor at night. Do you remember, dust?”
Olivier’s new self hummed higher in response.
“Ah yes,” went on the W, “when the hum of the fridge turned off, we could hear that special star song.”
The gang in the lid hummed quietly, remembering.
“And now we’re trash.” It was a flat voice, this other, smaller piece.
“Who are you?” asked Olivier.
“A half a blue crayon, but that doesn’t really matter now, does it?”
“A blue crayon?” asked Olivier.
“Yeah, not good for much.” The half a blue crayon became whistful, “somewhere out there I can feel my other half, coloured out on paper: a blue dog the parents were proud of; a blue whirlwind; an ocean full of sea creature stickers.”
Olivier felt bewildered. The crayon was so full of ideas.
“How long were you under the fridge?” she asked.
“Longer than that know-it-all W.”
“Well, I never!” the W was indignant.
“I never crayoned much,” the crayon sighed, “but I remember being new. I remember being made.” This crayon was a hard sort, but Olivier felt he had something special to say.
“You do not remember back that far!” interjected the W.
“I do so, wordy. I just never bothered to say so before.”
“Well, go on then, where do we come from?” taunted the W.
“From the Earth, from the dark, soft oil of the Earth, from growing green plants, from Life…and that’s where we’re going back to. But it won’t be pretty for us. We’ll all be squeezed together into one big lifeless mess, stuck in a scratch-hole in the Earth, an angry useless mess – forever.”
The W was silenced. All the trash were silenced by the crayon’s terrible truth.
Suddenly, the light came on from above the trash. The High Voice was weeping, sobbing in grief really. As the High Voice sobbed it dropped a clinking, scratching jumble of broken teapot down the corner of the trash can. All the trash was disturbed, upended, as this new massive item crashed down straight to the bottom. The lid was tipped, Olivier was beginning to ooze out, but before she schlopped, she could hear that glass jar from above shout out, “Hooray!” and the tearful High Voice shout accusingly, “You can recycle this, you know!”
Ooozing, ooooooze. Over another plastic bag, “Get off me!”, past torn paper, one shred calling out “I could have been a winner!”, beyond a mass of lentils and rice that was last night’s supper, until she collected in a dark place.
Still whole! And humming! Olivier settled comfortably into the cradle of her new home. Smooth and warm, and dark – almost like being back in the shell. They stayed there, quiet, for a long time.
“That’s a nice hum,” said the new voice, a kind old wise thing this was.
“Yes, it’s from the dust bits from under the fridge. They’re One with me now.”
“Ah,” sighed the grandmother voice. “Never thought I’d have rotten egg with old fridge dust inside me!” she chuckled.
Olivier felt sad for the old wise thing.
“What are you?” she queried softly.
“I’m an old China teapot. All broken up after many, many long years. You can call me Royal Albert, or just Fine China.”
“China….what’s a teapot?”
“I hold water. Cold water, tepid water. I prefer hot water, makes me clean inside and then, with the tea, that blessed aroma. Then the steam swirls out my spout. Those lovely whirls and patterns of steam, fills a whole room, and heals those humans right through.”
“The Voices, honey. I’ve seen ten generations of them. That High Voice, Sherrine, said, ‘There’s no use keeping Fine China like that locked away in a cupboard,’ and she brought me into use again. Oh! The things they’d talk about over me! Love, and anger born out of love, and hurt and longings and children and work. And if they talked long enough they’d get to laughin’. Oh, that fabulous human laughter – I’d just ring with it!”
“Please, keep going, China.” Olivier loved the comforting soft voice of her broken teapot.
“Sometimes they’d leave me there, with the radio going and I’d hear the Other Voices.”
“Yes, from the World Beyond. Talking all sorts of nonsense about war and fancy creativities. Lately, it’s all been this ‘end times’ nonsense. I’ve seen eight generations of humans and they all think they’re livin’ through the worst of the ‘end times’ – but let me tell you, they’re a resourceful bunch. They can live through mighty near anything from freezing to famine to fire. They’ll muddle through.”
Olivier let this all sink in. There was a lot to think about.
“…and they have Music,” said the teapot.
Olivier could hardly believe there was more.
“Such beautiful Music. If the whirls of my steam could have sound, that would be their Music.”
“Is it like the star song?” asked Olivier, her little dust bits humming higher in accordance.
“Oh, well, not quite so pretty as that,” chuckled the teapot, “but, they can come close, those humans. That’s how I know they’ll muddle through; as long as they have that Music, they’ll have Life.”
Olivier tried to picture the music whirling about, but she could only hear the myriad sad voices of despair crushing upon them.
“China?” the egg hummed out.
“I don’t want to stay in the trash forever.”
“I know, honey. Maybe we’ll get dumped close to the edge, close to the Earth, and I’ll get rubbed down into sand again.”
Olivier was quiet. She knew she would rot and stink and everyone would hate her until she dried up.
“There is something…” whispered the teapot, conspiratorially.
Olivier waited, what could the teapot do?
“I’ve got sharp, broken edges now. I could poke a hole through the trash bag and you could ooze out and escape. Would you like that?”
Oh! Olivier thought a while.
“Yes, China, oh yes I would like that.”
“Well, here you are then.”
The old teapot tipped a bit and Olivier began to ooze for the last time. She oozed out slowly through the tiny hole and spread out over the hard bottom of the trash can. The can was not happy and made a sort of humph sound. Olivier began to dry there, flattened all out, but the dust bits continued to hum.
With a crackle and whoosh, the trash bag was lifted high, and light poured down upon Olivier.
“Goodbye, goodbye China,” called out Olivier. “I hope you get ground into sand!”
“Oh Gross!” It was the high Voice. “Aw, that smell is rotten!”
Soon, the whole trash can was being lifted. Olivier was worried – would the Voices throw the whole can into the Earth’s rock hole, just because of her smell?
Then, a wonderful thing happened.
The very brightest, warmest of lights shone all around Olivier and her trash can. The dust bits hummed gleefully. A cool breeze played down the walls of the can and twirled about with the rotten egg’s smell. Olivier thought of China and her steam swirls. Was this music?
Splashing, splashing, a torrid cold and joyous clear liquid enveloped the trash can’s walls, and Olivier, and her bits. The trash can was perfectly giddy with delight, the bits thrilled in ecstasy, and Olivier was scrubbed to a million pieces to give her life to the life of water that is music.