Kindred spirits

I was checking out at Walgreens and at the register they had these skull keychains for Halloween. They were terrifying, their surfaces stained and  chiaroscuro. They were angular caricatures of skulls, which in actuality are delicate and beautiful. Real skulls have these wide ocular orbits and fine jaw bones, there’s something striking and almost juvenile looking about them. Even their surface is pretty, a sort of creamy white etched with the scrawling organic pattern of blood vessels and symphyses.

It was my turn to be rung up, and because I hadn’t spoken to anybody all day and generally have a poor sense of interpersonal boundaries, I decided to strike up a conversation with the cashier.

“Hey, you want to hear something funny about those?” I asked, gesturing to the keychains.


“They don’t look anything like real skulls.”

And then, where I had thought there’d be some feigned interest or horror or something, he got animated– “Don’t even get me started.” Then he shuddered a bit,  and started a sentence that he let trail off.

I’m sure I will never figure out what the story was with that.


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