Jordon opens the kitchen trash can lid to dump that morning’s coffee grounds, but pulls his hand away abruptly almost as soon as the grounds begin hitting the trash below.  Dark brown specks fly up and outward, dotting the floor, slapping cabinets, and staining his crotch.

Colleen enters the room and nearly trips over Jason who is on hands and knees, wiping up the mess with a paper towel.  “Forget how to walk?”

“Ha ha.  Just that sort of morning.”

Colleen continues walking by Jordon and rinses out a plastic juice bottle in the sink.  Then, leaning over him, she opens the trash can and throws it in.  She always rinses bottles and cans before throwing them away.  Her childhood home had lots of bugs.

Jordon grimaces when he hears the bottle hit the side of the trash can.

“Did you say something?”

“Nope.  Just getting the rest of the coffee off the floor.”  He corrals the last few grounds into a circle and pinches them into the paper towel before wiping again.

Satisfied with his response, Colleen leaves the room.  Her steps fall heavy on the dark wood of the dining room floor.  Jordon watches her until she disappears around the corner.

Jordon stands, wadded paper towel held in a near fist.  He opens the trash can and looks again at the faded yellow rose peeking above a cereal box and assorted wrappers as it was before, now bent by a blow from a juice bottle that leans against it.  He had given her the rose as an anniversary gift two weeks before. She preferred yellow to other roses, though tradition dictated its use for non-romantic occasions.

The rose had lost petals and what remained was more brown than yellow.  It was time to be thrown away.

Still, seeing the rose in the garbage makes him sad.  He loosens his grip on the paper towel and lets it fall as far away from the rose as possible.  Coffee grounds stick to his palm.

As he closes the lid he wonders why there isn’t a special way to dispose of flowers and birthday cards and out-of-focus photographs of loved ones and the baby birds that sometimes die in the yard.


Found in It Happened Yestermorrow:  Stories Written Two Minutes Before Waking