Learning to Count


The hole in the end of the bottle is exactly the size of your index finger, so you put
your index finger in the hole.
And, of course, it sticks. For days you walk around with your finger in the bottle,
hiding it inside your coat.
One afternoon you even set the bottle in a carton of five others and carry them
around with you. Soap doesn’t work. Grease doesn’t work.
You’re afraid to break the bottle. You’re afraid not to break the bottle. It has
something to do with your mother but what?
A gorgeous redhead in a miniskirt wants to borrow your bottle. Won’t I do? She
turns away, disgusted, then relents, and you break the bottle during passion.
Then her wig comes off and it’s the milkman. No, the neighbor’s heifer. No, a fire
hydrant. Maybe it’s time to go home.
Your mother turns around, surprised. Where have you been? Your finger, swollen.
She kisses it and you wish you didn’t feel satisfied.
“You don’t wake up because this is not a dream,” screams your wife before she
leaves you.
One bottle feeds a family of four.
You whisper back at her, “Twins,” and suddenly her feet detach and run back to
you screaming, “Daddy, save us! We had to count the same bottle
over and over! We had to count!”
“You don’t wake up because this is not a dream,” scream your feet before they
One at a time.
How will you ever learn to multiply?

Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press everyday in 2014 and forthcoming in paperback. Begin from the beginning, catch up, read daily. Just refer to the Burrow Guide.