Iowa Writes

ALIONA HAIRETDINOVA
The Corporate


She chaotically pulls out metallic sounds of a packaged wooden trapezoid through a round plastic hole. Maybe ten, she stands alone. Blue cashiers rush boxed Pepsi cans and White Stag socks across the laser-jolting X. It beeps in recognition of each set of barcode lines. Barcodes on childhood pinks. Rainbow clouds. Even ponies and butterflies are laser-ed in. She checks her left hand. Bites the pinkie nail. Pulls on the strings behind the plastic. Scratches her nose. Everything in her life is barcoded. She has no control over the numbers, as long as spiders crawl on the bathroom walls and the ladybugs slip through windowsill cracks. She could crawl and slip, if she wanted. If only barcodes wouldn't sting her under the sheets. Oh, she just ate an oatmeal cookie! Lights would turn up on the road and she wouldn't pay attention because she plucks metal out of plastic and polished wood.

She chaotically pulls out metallic sounds of a packaged wooden trapezoid through a round plastic hole. Maybe ten, she stands alone. Blue cashiers rush boxed Pepsi cans and White Stag socks across the laser-jolting X. It beeps in recognition of each set of barcode lines. Barcodes on childhood pinks. Rainbow clouds. Even ponies and butterflies are laser-ed in. She checks her left hand. Bites the pinkie nail. Pulls on the strings behind the plastic. Scratches her nose. Everything in her life is barcoded. She has no control over the numbers, as long as spiders crawl on the bathroom walls and the ladybugs slip through windowsill cracks. She could crawl and slip, if she wanted. If only barcodes wouldn't sting her under the sheets. Oh, she just ate an oatmeal cookie! Lights would turn up on the road and she wouldn't pay attention because she plucks metal out of plastic and polished wood.

She will ring a terribly unkempt turnpike somewhere in Tennessee or Colorado and would never reach the bell. Or the phone for that matter. Or any other sort of communicable disease. She washes her hands before meals with soap and water and brushes her teeth at night to avoid gingivitis in ten years. It is the Pepsi that causes cavities—she knows, but she hates going to the dentist. That swooshy-wheezy thing hurts her teeth in the bright light. Metal on human bone. Like raw steel, or oxidized hemoglobin—all metal in a plastic bag, so who gives a damn.

She has to eat broccoli and spinach because they say so. When she grows older, she'll indulge herself in overcooked carcinogens from Teflon pans and bright yellow boxes of Arm & Hammer baking soda. Clean like a squid, she'll be another ringing barcode. Singing in a digital downpour. Lost souls, found bodies, and deep black eyes in orange veils with golden bracelets from the East. They used to call it the Orient and shun the name now—orient yourself within pi and pick the right line of spices. And some religious Confucianism. Somewhere in Shambala or Jerusalem, squared away, she'd divide her awls into water and corn and build little people in shattering sand castles.

She might just stay at the strings behind the plastic cover. In the electric lights of the optical clinic. Searching the floor for the right speck. It would search for her too and she'd be lost in tall dry grass, hugging her knees, hoping, counting bugs in the air. Twenty or thirty. Who would pay for them all? The ice cream is running all over and she can't help the heat. She could run away to the mounds and play in the dirt. There are rocks there, after all.

She knows how to plant beans. It doesn't take much—grandpa's earth grows eternally with plenty of water. It's not your Chia Pet. It needs care. She grew into it and turned around to find her sneakers hanging from the door handle. Striped. Like endless barcodes. The calendar tells her about her own—own—beans. The date. Time. Place. It is all a set of empirical calculations. In moon years. She learns about them in school, wearing her sneakers, wet from the water in the garden. Forest, tall dry grass. Muddy shoelaces and a lonely dandelion on the kitchen counter top. She already forgot about them. She already lost herself, as she has done before, to the Cartoon Network.

Tomorrow, she will plant the tree—she knows, and she won't even have to take out her shovel. It already grows outside her window, on the corner. Yes, she will plant it tomorrow. And set two corn people in its shade—it wouldn't be lonely that way. She will play for them the corporate barcode. String after string. Her ponytail tick-tocks, as she pulls on the metal under the plastic. She turns around. Quizzically flows beyond the blue cashiers and beeping lasers, still somewhere in the dry grass, with squeaky sneakers, still reaching for that bell at the turnpike.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


ALIONA HAIRETDINOVA

Aliona Hairetdinova, originally from the Republic of Moldova, is a sophomore at Drake University majoring in international business, finance, and English. "I write both prose and poetry in my spare time; usually both are in the abstract or lyrical form," she says.

This page was first displayed
on April 25, 2006

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