“Trying Not to Contemplate the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Over Microwave Noodles” by Ethan Brightbill

Pull apart the cardboard. Tear the plastic wrap. Cook the noodles. Eat the noodles. Throw it all away. Tear the plastic, cook the noodles, eat the noodles, throw the plastic, cardboard, everything away. You need to eat you need to consume, you spent ten hours at work and one driving to and from and anything more than two minutes to noodles is too much, it’s all too much, but you need to eat so you can sleep so you can drive so you can work so you can have the noodles to eat the noodles, tear the plastic first and toss away the cardboard toss it all away, don’t wonder where not when the noodles are in two minutes and there’s only four hours of the day left, less than that, no don’t think, eat the noodles taste the curry it’s from Singapore, you’ve never been to Singapore but it’s Simply Asia® Classic Curry Singapore Street Noodles, don’t think you’ll never go to Singapore eat the noodles each one lick the curry savor it, the taste from Simply Asia®, don’t wonder why it’s Simply Asia® simply a continent simply four billion people just eat the noodles tear the plastic rend the cardboard and throw it all away in the trash you don’t have recycling so it’s all in the trash, everything trash, where it goes is not Singapore not Asia not anywhere, except everywhere is somewhere and somewhere it’s full and running out of time and space it has to be somewhere but you can’t think because you need to eat the noodles, to be full to be satiated to no longer be empty, but you are always empty it’s all you think about driving to and from work so empty it fills your insides like they’re going to burst like your trash can where you place the plastic and the cardboard where it all goes overflowing out to the dumpster, the landfill, the sea, and it gathers in clumps, in piles, in hoards, it becomes a mass, heaving, but it doesn’t stay trash comes on Sundays and Thursdays it goes out, it’s gone to work, to follow the pattern of currents, but all currents end and patterns die and when they do, the cardboard and the plastic and the noodles and the flesh all crumble and spread, the bits of noodle and curry and vegetable remains cohering to the sides of the bowl, to you, scrape them off to concentrate them, for one more taste of curry, don’t let anything go to waste. But then the noodles are over, the whole evening is over, buried under social media headlines and Netflix wildlife documentaries, and now the night is nearly ended too, now every minute of thought peels away another minute of sleep that you need to do your job to pay for noodles, but those minutes are gone despair they’re all gone feel the weight of it on your eyelids too heavy to open too heavy to sleep but then you do sleep, even you, like bits of dead matter floating to the sea floor like bits of plastic you sink, oh so slowly into your mattress, muscles relaxed at last, limbs spread like a fossilized dinosaur’s yes sinking down where the exhaustion crushes, grinds you into black ichor puddling stewing for an eternity for the sundering crack of the alarm to suck you back up into cars and jobs and noodles, but not yet, no, not yet. For now, only waiting.

Ethan Brightbill is fiction editor of Lammergeier and has an M.F.A. from Northern Michigan University. His work has most recently appeared in Dream Pop and The Indianapolis Review. Originally from Pennsylvania, he now lives in Utah.

Image: “Big Fan” by Daniel Nester

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