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The Germ Joey Hedger Somewhere inside these keys is a germ, clinging to some plastic corner that hasn’t been touched since it was shaped and glued in whichever factory is responsible for shaping and gluing computer keys. And I’m trying to find it, my nose just inches away from finger printed and all-capped letters—my eyes big. I’m trying to find it. Somewhere packed amidst a particularly tight bunch of toxic tobacco is that germ, and I’m lighting up, uncertain which clove cigarette or which menthol-cased pack will be hiding it. I’m inhaling it all, taking in the world to reach that microscopic speck, that condescending pencil-prick wormhole into another galaxy. Somewhere along a leather-shoe scuffed Subway floor in New York City—or that marble step along the National Mall—no wait, maybe the scorching asphalt on an L.A. drive—somewhere I’ll fall in just the right step—the precise motion—to wake up completely, to click the notch that jumpstarts the whole machine. Somewhere in the folds and wrinkles of my sheets is that dream, the dream that erupts in my skull like a virus; and just one more turn, one more body-back restless night will wring it out completely. I want to sleep again when the seed has run its course, but more importantly, I want that germ. Somewhere in the scents of stir-fried chicken and teriyaki sauce on fried rice, the germ has not yet been cooked out. In a small, white to-go box, I’m sure I’ve carried it home once and just missed it, just missed the bite-and-swallow of the time-collapsing, soysauce burden ache of everything. We swallow the world for the tiniest things.

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2017 Freshwater Literary Journal  

Professional literary journal produced at Asnuntuck Community College

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