Everything you’ve always wanted

by James Giddings

I was outside the Salvation Army building
licking the cream from the rim of my hot chocolate
when a man appeared beside me and said, You’ve won!
Won what? I said, wiping my moustache
with a finger to make sure I didn’t have cream
on my face. Everything! he said, You’ve won it all!
He stared at me with a constant stuck smile,
the kind you only see in photos taken in moments
of true contentment. Hold out your hand, he said.
I stood there quietly, all the things he might place in it
passing through my head on a supermarket
conveyor belt. After a couple seconds of trepidation,
he yanked my hand from my jacket pocket,
peeled apart my fingers and tapped my palm flat.
He pulled out an egg from inside his coat
and popped it there on my outstretched hand.
Congratulations! he said, and with that, he walked
down the hill and out of my life. At home
I placed the egg on the kitchen counter
and regarded it with wonder. I felt a small yolk
of hidden madness starting to form within.
I rubbed its smooth outer shell across the work
surface, and then again against the softness
of my cheek. It felt ordinary. I’ve been had, I thought,
but then right there, on the edge of hopelessness,
the egg flinched and began to crack. Inside
was everything the man promised. I took a long
scanning look around my small house.
I had no idea where I was going to put it all.