Uncle Asbestos brings me presents when his tour is done. There are always interesting treats lurking in his pockets.
He removes his helmet with a wry smile and dramatic sloth.
My fidgeting betrays my impatience.
He inside-outs his pockets and a slew of my favorite tiny, multi-colored creatures fall out. I squeal. We play with them until they run out of battery life. Uncle says I just need to let them recharge. I suggest hooking them up to a v-tube to see if they’d stay animated longer, but he laughs. “It would blow them right up, little one. Just enjoy them while you can. I’ll get more next time.”
“Where do they come from?” I ask as I toss the wiggling creatures into the air and catch almost all of them. Their noise reminds me of the frantic whirring of tine bugs, pests that nest in the humidors. Uncle says the toys are made of calcium. Can you imagine? No wonder they break so easily.
At school, I pull them out of my pocket and dump a pile of them on the lunch table. They try to scrabble away, but we make a corral out of trays and silverware. I’m the envy of all the kids.
“I wish my uncle was a galactic transporter.”
All my friends agree Uncle Asbestos has the coolest job ever. I get the best gifts.
Suddenly, a loud sound (for them) issues from one. Then it loses all animation.
“Careful.” I rebuke my friend. “You squeezed it too hard.”
“Sorry. Can I keep it? It’s broken anyway.”
“Yes, but not too long. They stink once the batteries go.”
My friend tweezes the limp, pinkish creature with four appendages and one dense tuft of fur. “So strange…where’s your uncle get these again?”
This flash was inspired by Microcosms, a weekly flash fiction contest, and was first runner-up. I had to incorporate this sentence into the piece: There are always interesting treats lurking in his pockets.