It Was an Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Fusion-Powered Thingie
by Edd Vick
Nanette found it on the beach one day. A cube, three inches on a side, yellow as a school bus. There was a cute symbol of an atom etched on one side. For a couple of minutes she twisted and pulled at it to see if it would open.
She stashed it with her towel and street clothes, and went to play cowboys and indians with her older brothers. When they got home everyone listened to the new Frank Sinatra record.
Here's how Nanette's life is supposed to go. She'll finish grade school and head off to college just as the Vietnam War is heating up. The Summer of Love will find her at a Christian college in Texas, far from LSD and Jimi and the Freak Brothers. She'll marry senior year but it won't last. She drifts away from the church, works as a dental technician, and marries again at thirty, this time to a baritone in the St. Louis Opera. Three children later he dies in a freak Wagnerian spear accident. She inherits enough to raise the kids, work part time, and paint cowboys. She never sells a painting, but dies happy enough of something not too painful at the age of seventy-two.
But she's got the cube. It remains delightfully enigmatic. Everyone once in a while she takes it out and pries at it. Eventually she'll try tools: vises and hammers and a blowtorch.
Eventually she'll succeed.