Alexandra Duncan

Science Fiction. Fantasy. Feminism.

MYSTERY GOURD

Late last fall, as I was walking from work to the parking lot, I noticed this gourd sitting on the ledge above the federal building parking lot. I had been having a really rotten day at work and was cursing my employer for making me walk to the parking lot alone, in the dark, when a glint of electric lamplight shining off the gourd's pale orange skin caught my eye. I backtracked. Had I just seen what I thought I saw?

Who would have abandoned a perfectly good gourd on the edge of a parking lot, and more importantly, why? Halloween and Thanksgiving were both long gone. I imagine it had adorned some festive seasonal arrangement at one of the many nearby offices. No doubt it was starting to go soft. A middle manager tasked with disposing of it would catch sight of one of her employees on his way out the door.

"Would you like to take this home?" she asks, taking out her need to dispose of the now-unseasonal foodstuff and foster a positive work environment with one stone.

"Okay," says the employee, thinking of his impending end-of-the-year performance evaluation. Anything will help.

On the way to his car, he dumps the gourd on a random ledge, like an unwanted newborn on the hospital steps. Someone is sure to find it out here. Maybe some nice lady who's always wanted a gourd will take it home to her kids. Maybe a homeless guy will roast it over a trash-bin fire.
Maybe an old lady will find it and feed it to her cat. But no, there it stays, long past dark, its only company a girl who stops briefly to snap a picture of it with her cell phone, then disappears into the night.

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