Just a few minutes ago I was eating a late lunch. I set my spoon down and reached for my coffee when my hand hit something that was not my coffee cup.
I looked up, and in front of me was a ceramic penguin. I puzzled over why it was on my kitchen table, and why I did not see it three inches away from my bowl and coffee cup. I certainly had never seen it before. I called my kids over, and none of them had ever seen it either. My wife denied ever setting eyes on it, and when I showed it to my two dogs, they seemed to think “FOOD!”, then “NOT FOOD” after subjecting it to the sniffy test.
So there I sat, holding an ugly penguin statue. I’m a Linux fan, but it wasn’t cute like Tux. It looked like it was painted by a blind person during a seizure. Not so bad that I could blame it on my younger kids, but not so artsy that I could blame the older one.
How it arrived I have no clue. Inter-temporal-space-shifting, most likely. I looked around and spotted things I had never noticed before, and they had a light layer of dust to lie about how long they were in my abode. Perhaps aliens are using streaming-video spy cameras disguised as junk. Take a look around your space right now. Was that book there before? Have you read it, or even knew it existed?
Hopefully, my house is not a stopping point for supposedly inanimate objects to migrate through on their way to their natural habitat (to breed more junk, I suspect) in yard sales across the country. Perhaps things are passing through your life, just looking like background clutter. Nothing you’d notice, unless you happened to look up as one materialized.
I politely placed the penguin back on my kitchen table. I left the kitchen to write this, and then remembered my coffee cup. When I returned, there was another coffee cup next to the penguin and my original cup.
“Just passin’ through, I hope. Enjoy your stay,” I told it as I retrieved my coffee. You can never be too careful these days.
Originally published in Everything 2 and Odd Places, 2005