Birthday Candles

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Object No. 34 of 50 — Significant Objects v3

[The auction for this object, with story by Scarlett Thomas, has ended. Original price: donated. Final price: $21.50. Significant Objects will donate the proceeds from this auction to Girls Write Now. This object was part of a collection curated for Significant Objects by Paola Antonelli; the story was co-published on]

You can find all kinds of crap in the back of drawers. Here is the string we once used to tie the handles of the French doors together so that Julius wouldn’t open them and walk into the pond. Here is a thimble, and a seam-ripper, although I don’t think anyone in our family ever ripped a seam on purpose. Here is an incomplete pack of cards with topless women on the backs, the best ones stolen by my brothers. Here is dust, dust, and underneath a pair of dice: one small and black, one big and red. There is a blister pack with no tablets in it and the silver tape measure that bites your fingers when it snaps back. There are the birthday candles I bought when I was seventeen. After I bought them I walked home from the corner shop imagining the hot wax dripping onto my naked skin and Mark, who still owed me for the mayonnaise thing, peeling it off after it had dried.


Scarlett Thomas is the author of The End of Mr. Y and various other novels.

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