Mister Rogers pleads, "Won't you be my neighbor?"
The light of the television beams through the hazy living room.
Mom chain smokes on our battered, rickety, golden yellow felt couch
and I nestle in the nook of her legs.
My head rests upon her purple satin thigh.
Curled into my daily routine, I fall asleep before Sesame Street begins.

I awaken in my grandparent's bed.
The wallpaper is covered in mallards.
They flutter on the wall
stuck in their paper prison hoping to tear free.
A tiny, golden Pterodactyl screeches overhead.
There is a dark cave on the wall.
Red eyes beam from inside and I crawl down the bed,
then slither down the edge to the floor.
I raise my head and stare into the eyes of the cave.
It is only a puppy; brown with long fluffy fur.
It licks my hand and I giggle.
It grows.
Its fur snarls.
It growls.
Its muscles tighten.
Saliva drips from its mouth.
Its red eyes engulf me.
The puppy into a dog, into a monster,
a beast breaking the bonds of its cave.
The cave crumbles and I run,
but cannot as my feet are stuck in a muck
that quickly turns to quicksand.
I sink until my screams of terror are only puffs
of sand-filled drowned lungs.

I awake nestled in my daily routine.
The Cookie Monster bellows from the television,
for cookies, of course,
his eyes roll every which way.
My mother goes to the kitchen.
I continue to watch
the Cookie Monster cut through Chips Ahoy.

From the kitchen I hear:
a clunk from the electric can opener's magnetic hand
securing a can of SpaghettiOs in place;
the whir of its tiny engine as it spins the can in place;
the sheering of metal causes a tinny ring
so high only a dog or a young child might hear it;
the SpaghettiOs slide, slough the can
and plop into a white bowl with a blue rim;
the microwave pops open, then quietly closes
and the timer click, click, clicks to two minutes, thirty seconds.
The bowl of pasta Os and tomato sauce receives
two minutes and thirty seconds of low-dose microwave radiation.

The bowl is before me with a glass of Cherry Kool-Aid,
made especially well by me, (an extra cup of sugar is the secret.)
I take a bite of my daily routine
and promptly spit it into the bowl.

She looks at me
uncaring if she indulges my desire to be like a hobo
she goes to the kitchen and brings back a cold one.
I eat them straight from the can.
The way a man should.
My daily routine is shifted.

One two three, four
six seven eight, nine

eleven twelve.

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