Get NiftyLit news & updates delivered directly to your inbox. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Skip to main content
Visual Generated by NiftyLit Using MS Designer

Two Secrets

Violet Piper
Featured • Flash • Nonfiction

The first secret is that our lives are not winding roads but cocktail spoons, loaded on one side and jutting out for too long on the other, in a sustained flatness. I know this because, at Sunview Villa, residents cried out for their mothers and brothers but never husbands or sons. Despite her daughter often visiting, Judy insisted she had no children. Despite the photos in her room, she’d never married. But she needed to call her mother! And if not her mother, her grandmother, who was probably at work, and we could try later. Judy had her mother. Rosemary had the beach house. Anne-Beate had the woods and the sound her father made to check if she was still behind him. Hoo-hoo! The first secret is that only the First Quarter of our life matters, even though it’s the part that wasn’t our choice, even though it’s the piece furthest away. The second secret is that I will have cereal; cereal will be all that is left. “Lucky Charms milk is blue,” I’ll tell my nurses, “Trix became spherical in 2006.” Cereal was three heaping bowls a day, three boxes on the fridge, two back-ups in the closet, my morning reading, and every saturated ad between Spongebob episodes. It was my obsessive scraping and flattening vs. Brigit’s smushing up the sides so the milk could pool below. Cereal was every fight about fairness and “Why did you open this one like a fucking monkey? Now it doesn’t pour right” because I was so hungry for cereal and only cereal that I could not slow down enough to rip the plastic in the middle. It was brand, font, palette, spokes-animal politics, prizes, and sweepstakes, but especially those bowls with the straws attached that melted in the dishwasher, and everyone cried. It was my father’s stay-at-home fatherhood and my mother’s insistence it would make us all fat like my father, and then that landmark Sugary Cereal Embargo of 2009 I thought they might get divorced over. It was my father begging us to try Crispix because they “weren’t that bad” and knowing my mother secretly missed Cocoa Krispies. It was my father’s self-appointment to Box Top collector for my elementary school, where he eventually became PTA president and got a job, and I think that might have saved them from the divorce. It was my younger brother’s fiery hatred of us – his grip on the box to position it between us at breakfast so he couldn’t see or hear our chewing and his seething, hunched figure behind the rectangle. It was my older brother and I laughing at him. The second secret is that cereal wasn’t my choice, but it takes up so much space I know it will eventually push everything else out.