I don’t like the feel of cotton balls. Specifically, I don’t like those cotton balls that bloatedly fill the top of pill bottles to keep the pills from shaking about. And why, I am compelled to ask, do they suppress the pills’ jostling in the first place. They don’t seem particularly fragile to me. Perhaps causing the pills to rattle about inside the bottle as though it were some kind of maraca with a child-proof cap, as might happen during transit on some trans-continental, eighteen-wheeled pill porter, causes them to degrade and lose potency on some quantum physical level.
Regardless, I don’t like those cotton balls. I don’t like they way they feel and I don’t like the way they sound. As I dip my index finger and thumb into the bottle to wrench the offensive little puff-ball from the plastic den it calls home, I cringe, knowing my reaction. I grasp the small mass of spider-silk-ish material so that I may gain access to its two dozen roommates living slightly below, and hear that sound. It’s so faint, you might hardly believe it makes a sound at all. But it does.
I imagine it like each little sinewy thread making up Its Puffness is letting out a soft, breathy scream. It sounds almost like a squeak, it is so faint. But it is there. It is approximately the same sound made by certain dry snow on certain cold days. Though compared to a jumbo-jet during take-off, or even a stereo at quiet volume, it is not that loud, it is rather louder than the whispery, shrill shrieks of the cotton ball. For me, it is akin to nails on a blackboard. Rather, the effect it has on so many people is what is similar, not the sound itself. Oddly, that sound never did bother me a bit, which probably explains why I spent so many of my elementary school days terrorizing the other children with that seemingly cruel and insensitive act. Perhaps it was that training ground that turned me into rather the nuisance I have become today. Not that I am a nuisance every day, or even most of the time, but having gauged others reactions to my various antics these many years after leaving elementary school, I think some still regard me as somewhat immature and, at times, a nuisance.
Though I despise that sound, I knew that it had to be heard. Sure, I could have grabbed my staple-remover, a pen, or some other standard-issue office implement to pry the puffy perp from its cave, but I knew that if I was proactive, it would be over soon enough. I did yank it out, and threw it towards the garbage like I was holding something that had been rotting in the refrigerator for two, maybe three, weeks. It was not only a displeasure to be touching it, but on an almost imperceptible level, it felt even a bit revolting.
It lies behind me now, in the little black plastic wastebasket that also collected the remnants of the packaging from my lunch as well as one broken elastic band. Looking down upon it, I wonder if it now feels a little overwhelmed with the size of its new home. A wastebasket is not all that different from a pill bottle, all things considered, except in size. I’ve sometimes wondered why babies cry when they are first born, and I speculate that it is because they have been torn from a nice, cozy, comfortable place they have come to call home, and are suddenly a very small fish in a very big pond. I’d be none too pleased if someone dressed in white yanked me from my bed and my home first thing in the morning through a very, very small portal.
If you’ve ever stood on the prairies, the kind where the world does, indeed, look perfectly flat (I have sometimes considered that those silly people of yore who thought the world was flat would have had much more reason to think so if they had been from Saskatchewan) and felt that immense open-ness around you - whatever is the opposite of claustrophobia - you may have a sense of how those squeaky, screaming silken threads might feel. They were once filling the top half of that bottle, bravely protecting those tiny pills from the awful experience of shaking freely within their plastic apartment. It was their protector; their guardian. Now it lies in the bottom of my trashcan, soaking up some leftover curry sauce. An indignant end, indeed.
And then I wonder, why don’t they just make the bottle smaller?
Who cares, my headache is gone.