HICCUP

Cresta Kruger Issue: Section:

I knew the world wasn’t going to end today; I hadn’t found the hidden key with the green marshmallow.
Every morning, I test the state of the world with my simple litmus: red balloons, orange stars, yellow moons, pink hearts, blue diamonds, and green clovers —these mean all is well; but if the hidden key marshmallow ever shows up in my milk, magically revealing the black skeleton inside of the grey tombstone, then it would be an indisputable sign of the world’s impending doom. Well, not exactly-- I would actually have to find this “hidden key” in the same spoonful as the green clover. (The tombstone cancels out the good luck of the green clover while green clover insures the power of death). How do I know this? When I bought my first box of Lucky Charms three years ago at Associated on 34th and 3rd in Manhattan, a small child pointed at me and said: “That’s the fortune cookie cereal!” This was followed by a voice that said clearly: “Get the milk.” This may sound strange, but I am aware of this.
I have always known that my future-seeing skills would be called upon one day, and when that child-- who had obviously just come from the Source (or God or whatever you want to call Him (or Her) called out my fate, I knew that it would become my job to tell the world the awful news of when it would be having its final day. I wasn’t afraid; I just accepted it. There is no use in fighting destiny. It may sound like a heavy burden to know that I will be the messenger of such terrible news, but I manage just fine. I have a normal life.

I work at a bookstore on 9th Street, the one with all of the free books outside. It is a pretty shabby store, but the owner lives in Cincinnati and he is rarely on the premises, so the six of us employees enjoy a large amount of freedom compared to most folks who work in retail: We listen to the music we want, set our own schedules, open up early (if we care to) and close late if it be needed. I especially like making the store window different every day.
In general, I feel like the store is really mine; after all, I’ve worked there the second longest next to Stuart and he could certainly care less if he ever owned anything. He is a Williamsburg hipster with a sociality that sucks up his life like a parasite in hot pants. Really, I think he has too many friends to care about anything else, especially not an old book store that only nets a couple hundred dollars a day.
I went to one of his parties last year and let me tell you-- those people in “B-burg” are totally crazy. It was a rooftop party and everyone was smoking pot and drinking beer and dancing to music that sounded like space machine hiccups. Hiccup, hiccup, hiccup. They were all dancing in such frenzy that I felt like everyone was going to lift off to meet their mother ship. The only thing keeping them planted was my mantra: Keep your feet on the ground and you will not fly away. I repeated this over and over, at least once every five minutes for the first hour I was there. (In general this is really good advice for most situations.) I felt oddly important at that party, even if only two people spoke to me throughout the whole evening. It was like I was saving their souls or something. If they only knew, maybe more of them would have talked to me. I did have one social interaction though-- a strange conversation with a couple of girls who were fresh off the boat from Kansas and wanted to know how long it would take before they knew the right places to score candy. I told them I had been in New York for almost three years and still didn’t know where these places were.
I recommended that they look it up on Google or something. They laughed and I laughed and I felt pretty good until they left soon after. Then I spent the rest of the night wondering what I had said wrong. I found that once I started repeating “Keep your feet on the ground and you will not fly away,” I felt better. I know that most people my age are into partying and going out, but I have never felt comfortable in those situations. Really the store is my only comfort zone.
Today I get to work late. Stuart has finished his coffee and cranberry muffin before I arrive. (He eats the same thing every morning).
“Hey, Kit. Wanna read the paper? I’m done with it.”
“Yes, I wouldn’t mind. Thanks, Stuart. Good morning.”
“Mornin’ to you too. Boy we had a proper time last night. I was up til six in the morning. I’m going out to get another coffee. You want one?”
“No, I gave up coffee yesterday. I think it causes conjunctivitis.”
“Oh yeah? I had that once when I was a kid, but I definitely didn’t drink coffee then. You read too many of those health books, Kit.” Stuart laughs but I do not join him.
He walks out the door. To be honest, I think he has too many friends and goes out too much.
I looked down at the paper and the headlines startle me out of my rumination over Stuart’s parties. It reads: “Subway Bomb Plot Revealed.” My head starts racing as I turn the page and learn that Al Quaida had been plotting to bomb the 6 train and the 1, 2 and 3 trains during rush hour. The operation had been discovered and was stopped, but there is now worry that there are still more dangerous terrorists out there who are planning another attack like the one on September 11th.
Did I miss a green marshmallow yesterday? Was it because I did not have any coffee? How could I be so careless? New York could be in a total disaster right now and it would all be my fault. We must be prepared for these things! Was the plot averted because I had failed to receive my message?
When Stuart gets back, I tell him that I’m not feeling well and I quickly stuff the newspaper into my purse and leave. He yells something out to me, but I really am not listening. I have to get home and take care of this at once.

On my way home, I see green pears, green cucumbers, green apples, green melons, green mangoes, green bananas, and green limes on the outdoor shelves of the delis near my apartment —all of which increase my anxiety. The significance of these sightings sends such a chill through me that when I get home I have to throw on a hat and a scarf. My roommate Martha looks at me strangely, but I ignore her. She looks like she is stoned again, sitting in front of the television, eating junk food. She really ought to get some help.
I shut the kitchen windows and close the blinds. I do not want anyone to see me. I find the large plastic bowl that we use for chips and I pour my entire box of Lucky Charms into it. I feel excited by the random placement of all the cereal and marshmallows. I have never seen them all together in such a large container and because of this, I notice that there is another new addition: blue shooting stars. How come I haven’t noticed this before? Those ad guys at General Mills are so crafty. If I live to be twenty-five, I will certainly send them my resume and apply for a job. My title could be: “ Fortune Teller Marshmallow Swallower.” I like the sound of all of those words together. Then I stop. Could this be cheating? It was never part of the plan to eat an entire box in one sitting. I decide to meditate on it.
I am sitting in lotus position in the middle of my kitchen floor wearing my hat and scarf during the month of August. I know I must look ridiculous, but the state of the world trumps any of my narcissistic insecurities. I take my responsibility seriously. If New York is about to be blown up, then of course that would mean another World War and that would lead to the whole world being blown up (which is why they are called World Wars) and if I am slacking on my job, then I will lose my chance at going on to the afterlife. (If the Source gives you a mission and you do not follow the orders, then you have failed. There is no room for transmutation of that kind of life form).
Then the voice comes again: “Get the milk.” It is louder than usual. It is clear that my message has come. I will eat the entire box of cereal and if there is no hidden key with a green marshmallow in the same bite, I will know that I have not missed my call.
I am almost through the entire box when my roommate walks in on me, throws her dirty dishes in the sink and opens the blinds.
“Why are you wearing a hat and scarf in the middle of August, Kit?”
“I do not know why you are bothering me, Martha. Can you not see that I am in the middle of something important?”
“What? Sitting on the kitchen floor eating cereal with the blinds closed?”
“I am doing much more than that; you would never be able to understand.”
“Try me. Actually, Kit, I am way smarter than you think I am. That’s why I smoke so much—I’m too smart for my own good. Just because you graduated from a fancy private college and I only graduated from a state college does not mean that you are of higher intelligence than I am…”
“Whatever, Martha. Go away.”
“Try me, Kit,”
“Martha, please leave me alone. I do not have time to explain right now. It is complicated. No offense, but I need you to give me some space.”
With that, she finally leaves me alone. I can tell that she is pissed off, but I am not bothered. Some things are just too important to have interrupted.
My last bite is a yellow hourglass charm-- which stops me in my tracks. I have never seen this marbit before. I look on the cereal box and it says that this marshmallow is said to have the power to “stop time, reverse time, or speed up time.” This must mean something!
I am now sweating copiously. The pressure is too much. The kitchen begins to spin wildly as I see visions of black smoke and red flames engulfing the Empire State Building. How do I reverse time and make it all stop? I take off my hat and scarf. My brain is hiccupping.
Then it suddenly occurs to me that there was not a single green marshmallow in that entire box! How could that be? Has all of our luck as a species run out?
It is so much worse than I could ever have imagined. I put my head in between my legs and start rocking. Who should I tell first? My parents? The New York Times? Stuart?
Even my trustworthy mantra does not help… keep my feet on the ground and I will not fly away; keep my feet on the ground and I will not fly away… I want it all to go away.

When Martha comes back home twelve hours later, I am still sitting in the middle of the kitchen with my head in between my legs.
“What the fuck is going on here?” She is drunk; I can tell.
“I am composing the speech I will have to deliver in the morning.”
“What speech? Have you won an award for being the looniest bitch in town or what?”
“No. The Source has told me thirty-four times to ‘get the milk,’ so I know that the speech should be delivered on the steps in front of the post office on 34th and 8th. I have decided that I will wear the dress I wore to my grandfather’s funeral and I will wear my mother’s pearl earrings. The shoes I am not sure of. Maybe my black pumps or my silver flats.”
“What are you talking about?”
“There are no more green marshmallows, Martha; our luck has run out. I have to tell the world tomorrow.”
“Have you lost your mind, Kit?”
“Actually, I am clearer that anyone else on the planet right now. You should take some aspirin and go to bed. I’ll wake you up before I leave.”
Martha starts to laugh louder and harder than I have ever heard anyone laugh before. I am annoyed that she is too drunk to register any of what I just told her.
“Kit, I picked out all of the green marshmallows and ate them when I was stoned this morning.” I look at her. I cannot speak. I do not think that I will ever recover. Hiccup, hiccup, hiccup.

All content © original author. If you feel there may have been a mistake, please contact us.