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Pomegranate Burt’s Bees Lip Balm.

The Pomegranate Burt’s Bees Lip Balm never thought itself one of those toss-away, gas station purchases, yet here it is, somewhere under a Volvo’s passenger seat, buried beneath a thin layer of dog fur and some crumpled receipt papers. It finds itself in the company of a Tampax tampon—one of those applicator types which shoot a cotton bullet from its plastic rifle. One of those that no-one ever purchases unless you’re thirteen or bleeding through on a five-hour drive to Oklahoma City and it’s the last tampon pack at the Kum and Go. So then we’re the same, says the Tampax tampon to the lip balm. The Burts Bees Lip Balm pretends to be inanimate and reminds itself that it tastes of pomegranate.


Unlabeled White Stick.

The unlabeled white stick convinces itself that it’s a ChapStick, maybe even classic-flavored, although it has no proof of such belongingness, no 23andMe to certify its authenticity. Instead, it dreams of finding an untethered label, maybe a Vaseline Watermelon or Carmex Strawberry wrapper, also fallen from a drunken girl’s pocket, a floating angel kicked by combat boots, stilettos, sneakers, flip-flops toward the stall’s soggy corner, slowly unfurling as if to beg scoop me up, make me yours. But the lip balm—if one can even call it that—lies blank and empty, its film of glue drying, its stickiness ceasing. It remains nameless, without a brand to hide its banality.


Cotton Candy Lip Smacker.

The Cotton Candy Lip Smacker was once something special. In the hands of its middle-schooler, the Lip Smacker was a weapon—not only a lip balm, but a shiny gloss too. It would color the girl’s mouth pink and glimmering, a thin layer of defense for Algebra I, but when Mom would ask are you wearing makeup the girl would wield the pink stick and say jeez, Mom, it’s just lip balm. But now the Cotton Candy Lip Smacker aches after a turbulent war. Brittle and wrinkled, it sits among a lilac-smelling dryer sheet, its sweet and glittering innards spread about the tumble machine.


Classic ChapStick Original.

The Classic ChapStick Original can’t smell its quintessential scent at the bottom of the dark and rancid bin. It rolls itself, blindly, to a slimy corner between a sweaty metal wall and a bag which reeks of sorrow and rotten eggs. It sits there, asking itself what happened. How could it have fallen from such nobility? How could it have plunged from such glory? As though in a manifested response, a slick cylinder clatters its way down the metal box, then lands atop the Classic ChapStick, snuggling against its side. Isn’t this destiny? asks the foul-smelling stick, carefully peeling the label off the Classic Original ChapStick. You and me together, finally?