Funny stories in under 500 words.

Jasper

What's with kids putting things in their mouth? Well, figure it out in this funny story written by Sally Stevens. She's worked in film, TV, recording and concert music in LA for many years, and has written lyrics for film and recordings. Her short fiction and poems have appeared in RavensPerch, MOckingheart Review, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and No Extra Words Podcast.
Just after Jasper turned seven, he began swallowing objects, things he found and put in his mouth. At first it was just small plastic non-descript items; the prize that came in the cereal box, the cap to the milk bottle. There was not any particular logic to his choices, for he was very young and unschooled in the ways of the world. His mother wondered what had happened to these things but since they were not particularly valuable, it was of little concern.

Then one day he swallowed three pennies he’d found on the coffee table, and later that morning he swallowed a clothespin, and the bus token he was supposed to use on the Number 10 bus to Jefferson Elementary School. After walking the three miles to school that morning for lack of the bus token, carrying a heavy book bag, he realized there was wisdom in not swallowing things he might need to cough up later.

He picked up several paper clips from the teacher’s desk, sucked on them till recess, then bolted them down on the way to the soccer field. When the bell rang to end recess, he picked up two small acorns that fell from the Oak tree just outside the classroom, and stuffed them into his mouth.

As Jasper grew a bit older, he came to understand and appreciate the more sophisticated world around him. By fourth grade he was tearing ads out of the Yellow Pages, for places he wanted to visit …Dale’s Roller Rink, Big Boy Doughnut Shop, Frosty Freeze…then wadding them up, and gulping them down.

One day he opened the Encyclopedia and found pictures of a tropical island called Kauai. He ripped out the picture and swallowed three palm trees and a hula girl. A delightful sense of calm and satisfaction swept over him.

His mother began to worry when Jasper wouldn’t come downstairs for dinner. He would simply holler from the top of the stairs, “I’m not hungry Ma… I just ate the Eiffel Tower and Grand Central Station.” She finally coaxed him to the dining table by insisting he have some soup to wash them down with.

The source of available material in the world was astonishing to Jasper. By the time he was in Junior High School he had devoured all of Manhattan, from 38th and Lexington up to 80th and Park. He had eaten the Metropolitan Art Museum and Central Park Zoo. He’d gotten a tiger toe stuck between two of his molars, but he managed to remove it by flossing with the crowd control rope from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

His mother would ask him each day when he came home from school, “What did you eat today, dear?” And he would rattle off “At snack time I ate the Mississippi Delta, and for lunch I had the Leaning Tower of Pisa”, or “Oh, I wasn’t very hungry today. I just had a piece of Antarctica and three polar bears.”

His mother smiled. He was learning to absorb the world in a most unique way. She was very proud. She took Jasper’s picture from the mantel and gazed at it lovingly for a moment. Then she quietly slipped the photograph out of its frame, and ate it.




Photo by Zivile& Arunas on Unsplash (edited by David Gregory) , ,

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