I go to many garage sales, and no, they are not selling garages.
I went to one last summer, 93o in the shade.
Water $1, Pepsi $1.50, the sign read.
The water was tempting. On my way to buy a bottle, I spotted a familiar box; we’ve all seen them, green and yellow stripes, angular forms.
Crayons, Crayola, specifically.
Now this was no eight-color box, this was the top of the line, 64 colors.
I opened the box, expecting to see nubs, torn paper, colorful marks on the lid. But no. What I saw was a pristine set of crayons, nary a nick. A box of 64 for $1. How could I pass up that deal? What would I use them for? I have no idea. Maybe just to accompany my other garage sale bargains. I browsed, nothing else of interest. I bought the crayons and left, the temperature getting the best of me. Home to air conditioning.
Come midnight, I’m usually asleep. Not this time. The box of crayons generated a spectrum of thought. So I emptied the box onto the table one row at a time; the colors were still in order. After I dumped the last row, I put the box down and examined each crayon, its paper sleeve, its nib end, its back end. All perfectly intact. All but one. The purple crayon had been used, a third of the nub rubbed off.
What was that crayon used for? Why that color? Was it just the easiest crayon to remove from the box?
I wanted to try them out, I found some paper, turned on the desk lamp, reached for a crayon. Which shall I pick? Black is customary for lines, white won’t be visible on the paper, red, blue… So, I mixed all the crayons together, covered my eyes and picked one at random.
It was the purple crayon.
I found this coincidence troubling. I decided to stop, put the crayons away, come back the next day.
The first few crayons went into the box easily, but something stopped the purple crayon from going into the box. I looked inside and saw a piece of paper. I pulled the paper out, a column from a newspaper. And a second small piece of paper. A purple drawing on the paper and a scribbled girl’s name. I unfolded the newspaper column. It was an obituary. A four-year-old girl. Same name.
Copyright © Mike Miller