Always poke holes in the lids, Joe reminded himself. Ever since he’d first gathered silkworms and piles of mulberry leaves, he’d learned that lesson. His uncle had helped him clean out the ice cream tub where the first batch had turned to foul-smelling mush and told him what to do next time. Always poke holes in the LIDS, he’d repeated.
He liked storing things, bringing bits and pieces of nature into the house. He remembered the time his mother had come home from a Tupperware party with the entire boot of the Morris Minor filled with tubs. And how she’d struck him with that despised wooden spoon when he’d taken a couple of them and poked holes in the lids. She’d been livid.
The lesson was confusing. Sometimes poke holes in the lids, then.
Growing up the holes in the lids began to make sense. The creatures scuttling around scavenged bits of bark and handfuls of soil needed the air to breathe inside the tubs.
He didn’t always find them the right food. He’d hold the box up to the window and peer inside, but the creatures would be on their backs, brittle legs folded in silent prayer.
Now that he was an adult, he recognised that childhood rules can change. He still liked storing things, although Tupperware no longer suited his purpose – the company that managed to dominate the market in containing leftover food had overlooked his storage requirements.
He preferred to let the insects and crawly things have their way in the house. He’d study them as they claimed their corners and spaces inside the cupboards. The spiders would keep their filigree larders polite distances from each other, and the moths, roaches and ants doodled their own cartography throughout the rooms.
Joe looked at his wrist. The scar was tingling in a way that reminded him of the pain he’d felt as his mother had lashed him with the spoon, but he couldn’t recall everything that had happened the night his uncle had held him down while his mother had taken the pot of roiling cooking oil and poured it over his hands.
The air in the basement was odd. It was damp and dry at the same time, the same way that a snake looks slick and wet, but the scales feel papery. At least the smell had lifted a bit. That was something he’d picked up very early on: Never poke holes in the lids.
Stacks of large plastic containers formed a wall within a wall, and he gathered the insects in one hand as he lifted the lid to one of the boxes. A liquid darkness reflected back at him as he dropped the bugs inside.
He replaced the lid. Listened to the rippling noise and smiled. A lesson his mother had taught him well.
Never poke holes in the lids, Joe, the ripples seemed to say, never poke holes in the lids.
This post was written as part of a tandem blogging experiment. SEVEN other bloggers have used the same title as a prompt, and their work will go live at the same time. None of us have seen anyone else's posts yet, so each will take a unique angle on their blogs. Take a look at their creative efforts at blogging “Tupperware party” and like, share and comment if you've enjoyed what you read!
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