The Walk of Shame to the Trash

Jacob Towne, Staff Writer

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With a loud thud, my tablemates pile their trash on to my plate: crushed bags still filled with crumbs, soggy paper trays, milk cartons that leak into rice and veggies. They continue talking and laughing. My smile fades as I glance down at the heap. To my right, there’s the trash. It’s as simple as can be, the assortment of these items. Paper and food goes in the compost bin. Plastic gets trashed or recycled.

That’s not the trouble. The trouble comes along with the watchful guards defending their keep. They stand, foreboding, in a pair, in front of the place. Their faces are sunken, as they surely haven’t eaten today. Have they ever eaten? Have they slept? Have they left this spot, or were they planted here at the beginning of time, ingrained in the soil they made from their treasure?

Worst of all, it seems they can smell the heap. First they glance at the trash, then their gaze catches my eye. I feign a smile as I realize that it’s already too late. With a quivering lip, I grip my plate. The precarious trash-tower threatens to tumble over. Imagine the embarrassment. I stand up, slowly, careful not to spill the contents of my charge. Without seeing them, I can feel their eyes on the back of my neck. They smile at me when I turn around. The room goes silent. My steps are heavy with a weight that compounds as beads of sweat form on my temple. How far is it? Why do I want it to come sooner? This destination isn’t a light at the end of a tunnel, it’s a black hole, and the fires of judgment spout out from it’s threatening maw and engulf me.

They don’t say anything, but their leering is resoundingly loud. Trash in the trash, and the other trash goes in the other place. These words were so clear earlier, why now must they escape me? I set down the plate on top of the trash can. At point blank, with only a few inches of space between us, their eyes still burn through me. Paper goes in compost. So does food. Plastic goes in the trash… in the trash… not that one!

“Actually, you can rinse that one out and recycle it,” the guardian speaks with a hollow enthusiasm. Drained of life, I turn slowly to face them. They smile back.

“Sorry.” I mutter as I fall to the floor. My body disintegrates into a pulp. They quickly scoop it up and place it where it goes, in the compost bin.

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