The First Week of January: A Very Short Short StoryBy Luis Prada
He unloaded the dump truck’s contents on to a growing pile of trash already a few feet tall. Hanging thick in the thin winter air was the stench of countless half eaten meals, dead rodents, dirty diapers of both the very young and decrepitly old, and countless other things that give off smells only an agent of Hell’s sulfur pits would find comforting.
Cutting through his nostrils was a distinctive sting – a refreshing kind of rot. He dug through the truck’s contents, quickly tossing bags and loose, deplorable debris over his shoulder searching for the source of the smell. If his boss were watching him he’d have thought he was making a strong case for Waste Management Employee of the Month.
Deep near the dingy floors of the truck, under a pizza box, was a tree. Its trunk was dry, its needles had browned. Hanging from a branch was a small, ceramic snowman that held a sign reading, “Merry Christmas!” A few straggling strands of cheap tinsel clung beside the snowman’s branches. The rest of the ornaments that once hung from the tree were replaced by a single used condom lazily flung on to a cluster of branches. Probably the result of a broken trash bag, he hoped.
Its state of decay would turn away any perspective buyer at a roadside tent.
He pulled the dead decorated tree out of the truck and stood it on its base, admiring it. He removed the condom and flung it away with a quick flick. He spun it to examine it from all sides, breathing in the woodland air being whipped off the branches. He dug his nose deep in to a nest of needles and sucked in a lungful. He closed his eyes, trying to dilate time, extend the experience.
He pulled his face back and tossed the tree on to the growing pile of trash below his feet. The smell of garbage rot rushed back in to his nostrils – not that it bothered him much anymore. He knew this single disposed tree, once loved by its owners and now cast in to a trashy purgatory, will soon be joined by dozens of its brethren to rot and die among the filth – and give off their sweet, stingy, rarified rot smell in unison, because it was the first week of January.