Trees on either side of a road. In the far distance are people and buildings.

Tin Cans

The tin cans still have the sticky label glue down the sides. Whoever had cleaned them off had probably used dish soap and hot water, because the labels are all scrubbed off well enough that I can’t tell if they are soup cans or bean cans or sliced carrot cans, but I know that they all had labels at one point because of the glue residue. When I clean off cans to recycle as pencil holders or planters, I use rubbing alcohol and vinegar so that the glue washes off too, but whoever cleaned these cans must not have known about that trick.

Dirt and pebbles and dried brown rice cling to the aluminum in perfect stripes.

Whoever was in charge of the tin cans was probably the same person who wrote the Just Married in chalk paint on the front windshield. Their handwriting loops across it. When I write fancy things like that I write the words out on a Post-It first and cross out the letters on either side going inward. If it were me writing out the message, I would have found the middle spot between the M and the A and then written outward so that the words fit well and were centered and looked pretty.

This person didn’t know that trick, but maybe they did and it’s just hard to tell if they started from the middle or not through all of the smashed glass and the blood. The tree branches obscure most of the words regardless, and had it not been for the tin cans, I wouldn’t have had enough context to guess what the chalk paint was supposed to say, anyway.

Though, I suppose their outfits offer adequate context.

I pick up one of the tin cans and rub the grime and rice from the label glue. I read an article last year about how rice left on the ground can kill the birds who ingest it and subsequently ruin an entire ecosystem. If it were my wedding, I would have chosen biodegradable confetti. Maybe lavender seeds. Lavender seeds smell amazing, and if a bird ate a lavender seed it would be fine, I think.

I pluck all of the uncooked rice from the sticky tin cans and tuck them in my waistband so that I can take them home and throw them away properly.

I think maybe I’ll look for the reception venue. I’m sure there’s more rice on the ground somewhere over there, and if I get there quickly, maybe I can pick up the rice before the birds get to it.

It couldn’t have been thrown more than ten minutes ago.

Retired lemonade stand entrepreneur. Short stories, book reviews, essays, and musings.

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