Thrift Store Plaid
There’s Jesus-music in the air, praise to the same four chords recycling the same eighty half-rhymes about grace and peace and unquantifiable love. They sing about that like it means something, but love never was quantifiable. Art that points out that the sky is blue is neither interesting nor innovative, but it plays on Christian radio, so that has to be worth something. It presides over the air crisp with dime-store detergents and stale perfumes.
Maybe you sit on a shelf with the rest of yourselves, like brothers reunited many years after having been sent from the assembly line off to war, except war is a child’s playroom and you are an Easy-Bake Oven. And now you’re there, obsolete, after spending God knows how much time in a musty closet because the child you knew died; alive, but no longer a child. But you don’t remember any of this, because objects don’t bear memories, only scars. You’re scared, because you don’t know why people won’t take you home. You don’t know why you’re an Easy-Bake Oven in 2018.
You’re not just the oven. You’re all of it: wobbly chairs, empty picture frames, ugly hats, rows upon rows upon rows of pants, skirts, shirts, jackets, from all walks of life, t-shirts from bands and clubs no one has ever really been a part of. You’re there, a discarded memory in a library of you, and it cheapens you, you think, because what’s worth less than that. Your wearers have perished or outgrown you. You are no longer an act of love. You’re not even an act.
God would have you believe that rebirth is a spectacle, that it happens to tongues of fire and blinding epiphanies, but sometimes it’s young people buying you for the meme. It’s the undercurrent of irony that makes you so novel, and jokes manifest to action, and all of a sudden, you’re on some professor’s shelf for a reason you can’t understand, a fun new story that everyone will remember. Again, you will be revered. Again, you will be love.
A young man takes a step out of the thrift store carrying a bag full of long-sleeve button-downs because he appreciates how his forearms look when he rolls up the sleeves. A while later, he’ll find a woman who also finds beauty in the echoes of the past. You will be love when he says, “I guess my aesthetic is thrift store plaid.”
About the Author
Steven Christopher McKnight is a recently-graduated Theatre and Creative Writing major fresh out of Susquehanna University. He is primarily a playwright, but also work in memoir-essay, short fiction, and novel form. Additionally, he is the literary director of Paradigm Lost, LLC, a tabletop RPG startup, and managing editor of The Lit Mug, a literary mugazine that specializes in emblazoning flash work on the side of a mug. To view more of his work click below.