when pictures fail me…
I opened my front door to see the familiar arrow swooshing toward me on a sizable box, as a question mark thought-bubble rose to meet the falling autumn leaves. I hadn’t ordered anything that I could recall. So I checked the address label—yep, that was me—brought the package inside and took a razor blade to tape.
There they were, packed solid—what looked like a year or two’s worth of . . .Kleenex? Not just any Kleenex, but Anti-Viral. I found the packing slip and still had no clue where they came from, other than a distribution center somewhere in America.
Had a neighbor had ordered them for his elderly “mum” (whom I was a companion to), inadvertently shipping to me? Nope. I checked my own order history online. Nada.
So I put the box in the basement, intact, and kind of forgot about it. For a few months I checked my credit card bills, but nothing ever showed up. Did I have a secret admirer who noticed that I always have tissue stuffed up my sleeves and in my pockets? If so, they are usually Brand X, whose package designs don’t over-strive to nail any target market. Unlike Kleenex brand.
Besides being picky about the look of products that are going to be part of my home decor, and being frugal, I do not like additives on my facial tissue. No aloe, no perfume—no vanilla, lavender, or pumpkin. And no anti-viral chemicals.
One day I ran out of my generic Kleenex. It was the holiday season and I really didn’t want to visit Target, or The Dollar Store, or RiteAid. But I didn’t want to use my toilet paper, either. It was time to bust open a box.
First I Googled the anti-viral ingredients: Citric Acid (7.51%), Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (2.02%); Inert Ingredients (90.47%). Now I would be dabbing and blowing my nose with this stuff. I don’t get flu shots, but I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I just try and keep my distance from germs as well as Big Pharma. Spreading the boxes around my house, I decided maybe the package design wasn’t all that bad.
Along came Covid-19. I sniffled and sneezed a bit into my seemingly endless supply of tissue, but remained healthy throughout the winter as well as the lockdown. Not even a chest cold. And while sitting on my own personal pause button, I contemplated all this weirdness. Embracing the whole conundrum of being human—how to live in a continual state of not knowing—became part of my new normal.
And though I might still be able to trace the package with bar codes and tracking numbers and whatnot, I’ve decided that the mystery is really part of the gift.
copyright Sharon Watts 2020
also published — Encore Community Creative Writing Group / Vol. 7