from Junk Movements

Nalini Abhiraman


Who says you can't find a wholesome snack on the go? Mixed Berry Fruit Crisps are made with real fruit wrapped in a sweet and crispy snack bar that's only 110 calories. Also, try Apple Cinnamon.

This way, it can’t be helped. She likes to think about it in this way exactly; the aggregate of his absences, the sweet sum of events and situations he had forsworn, would have made an ideal father. A wholesome golem of presentness, of being there. Of being, of there.

Hard to say why the emergency sprinkler brings her back to this course of thought. Tinky thing, embedded in the ceiling’s porous institutional plaster. And rusting with leisurely calm. It crisps there, russet as an apple. Elbow 1, propped behind Head 1, keeps it in her line of sight (Eye 1, Eye 2). Whereas Elbow 2 is useless in the meantime, securely wrapped and gowned, pinned under Ribs A1-A12.

She turns Head 1 to ease the waiting, Neck 1 panging only lightly in protest. Here are some things to read. That’s something. Some specifications:






8.5 OZ, 110






An unknown microscopic quantity of blue, latex-free ounces is ghosting on Breast 2, evaporating from it. A cinnamon-brown hump. Imperceptible blue mist carried up from it to go find the ceiling, the crispy sprinkler. The energy of its dissipation is borne through the door as calories.

Perhaps the evil little thing isn’t exactly where she has testified. Perhaps it is a little more to the left, or the right. Below and above. The bar passes over here and also over there. Breast 2, coated in blue. A nurse attached to the end of the bar purses everything on her face that can be pursed, then leaves. Earlier, the same nurse says, But my God, you really are just a baby, tugging at the clipboard. She smells of a fruit splash, of the idea of mixed berry made real. She is kind and unsexed by her beryl scrubs. She is a blue raspberry, a beaker carrying tubes of fruit between machines that snack and snack and try until there is a condition to find.

Earlier, in the waiting room, with its chairs of jointed cherry wood and blunt pink damask, the receptionist says, My god, you’re just a baby.

Says, Isn’t she just a baby? to the nurse.

Who? says the nurse. Later, the nurse whispers to the doctor, She’s just a baby. By these rules, the doctor is also a baby. They stand in the hallway, looking out at the waiting room, where there are women sitting on every surface, but no babies. Women cluster in packs near the closet full of gowns. Women sit on the worn pink chairs and watch The View.

The doctor, whom no one notices is a baby, does not know that waiting rooms have always looked like this, tacky and neoclassical. Modernity has cycled through them and been found wanting. Modernity is in useful hiding. It loops through the machines as they grind and pulp and sign their fruited reflections. This is what everyone, women and babies and doctors and nurses, is waiting for. We build neoclassical rooms to furnish its honor. The reflection signature reveals the medium, when it chooses to do so. Unlike a baby’s wail, it is beyond the naked ear to discern.


Warm, pillowy flatbread filled with seasoned ground beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, crisp shredded lettuce, and diced ripe tomatoes. You can also upgrade this item with marinated and grilled all-white-meat chicken or authentic carne asada steak.

All the birds roost at The Back Fence Bar. Pillowy ripe hens, snowy in the face. Coo at you like you’re a chicken egg. All-white-meat legs, warm as cheese. Cased in dark seamed stockings, looking grilled. Marked. For those not seasoned in husbandry, here’s a ground rule. Beef up your You. Make it look authentic. Marinated man, machismo dolloped on you like nacho sauce. Walk into the pub like a rubber monster, highballs rippling on the table. Steak looked at you from its warm plate and shredded itself, you’ll tell all your grandbabies. No need for this fork and knife but they placed them there anyway, as a courtesy. Or how’s that old jawn go? When you eat, it is the food that is scared. Big googly eyes looking nervous in your patty, peering out from underneath a seeded roll, a crisp frill of lettuce. French fries crying out in their bunched condition, bloodied with sauce. Down they go into your filled stomach, past your gulping neck, the telltale blink of your Adam’s apple. Also, a shower of diced tomatoes, when it’s carne asada night.

In Bollywood flicks there’s a thing. Called an ‘item number.’ Girl heretofore unintroduced gets up in spangles and a bare navel, Cleopatra eyes, with all her suggestions uncovered, then shakes her thing for a song. She’s only allowed playback lyrics in a can for a voice, and in a husky alto at that. It’s a difficult thing. Glittery silo. Hard to upgrade to real acting from there. Wrap a wet sari around yourself and try again. For men, there’s flatbread to provide cover for reinvention. Sure, bread rises softly in its bowl, is a contained lively dome. But they don’t call it the staff of life for nothing. Should call it the shaft of life. So cut dough into sticks and get them hard. Spear whichever biscuits you can. It’s your barrel.


Triple Chocolate Decadent Cake includes a pouch with real chocolate chunks and rich fudge so you can bake an over-the-top cake, all with one box. Contains zero trans fats and no hydrogenated oils.

And always means two, and always means two. Two always means two things, and and always. This is the Transitive Property and is something you can always learn in elementary school, if you attend Cake Eater Elementary, where my sons are schooled in the extortionate entitlement of early childhood, with its ceaseless replenishment of decadent supplies; its over-the-top pencil-pouches loomed and silkscreened by giant captive machines, squealing and coughing out zippered neon panoramas of the cartoon-bear pantheon, perfect products bound for scuff and smear and doom. My sons leave hydrogenated chocolate drops in all their pouches’ corners, leave them to bake at room temperature. The drops lose their structural integrity. They slump softly into unwashable turds. This is to say nothing of the pencils themselves, plucked by the bunched fistful from their box of manufacture, destined to rot, point-first, in crusted fudge. The wood of them grows waxy with oils, turning dark and rich as the chocolate and trans fats of their ruin.

In the wake of such treatment, a pencil cannot sharpen properly. Whether twisted and turned in the barrel of a planetary parer, or jammed into an electric advancement of the same, the wood falls from the graphite in moistened chunks, as if grown soft and real as a cake. And what of an eraser, feckless pink thing, one each to a pouch? No small human hand contains the faultless parallelograms of them. In lieu, my sons rub the buttery ends of their destroyed pencils over their mistakes, razing nothing, but drawing much attention to the backwards Bs, the sinking Ps caught in steerage between an upper- and lower case. The greasy mist makes a grisaille of each ditto sheet. Triple-zero word score.

And yet. Great effort! bugles the scented emblazon affixed to both homeworks. Effort is the move. Move we do. To the car, the store, the aisle, the pouches. To the register and the door, which includes a sensor that rewards us for the effort of walking up to it, and slides open noiselessly, so as to let us out into the open air.


Nalini Abhiraman lives in Brooklyn and at Her work appears in Anomalous and is forthcoming in NOO and Gigantic.