It seems so natural to have a thin in a tin. An imagining of a broken tree trunk in a storm-blasted field that looks more like a huge snapped human leg-bone than any wood or timber. To preserve this as a concept necessitates only a small space. Perhaps just a piece of paper with words on, words that make a real thing thin. A description is rarely as bulky as the thing it describes, unless it is, say, a scientific article on a new microscopic particle discovered by the hadron collider.
A no fly zone in a war, for example. Empty skies. And an enemy army withdrawn into desert caves. Even those fliers upholding the no fly zone are not flying because the threat of them flying was enough. And any boots on the ground are mere ghosts barely tip-toeing towards a besieged city. One soldier there on a lookout hill threw away his binoculars. Even the birds had vanished.
I arrived in the vanguard of the liberation force. Being an embedded journalist, my boots were not considered as an occupying force. Even the liberators themselves had already liberated themselves of their own bodies. So no problem there. I earlier had basic rations, but now things were getting thin. As a journalist, I was treated quite well. In case of emergency, I had once been passed a tin labelled with an overblown picture of a starving child. No brand-name words, no best by or use by dates, no final date of display, no ingredients. No percentage information on fat contents. Or, for that matter, on thin ones.
The tin was taken as read. No cooking instructions, no aborted squelches when shaken. No ring-pull to lift the lid off, as it was presumably dependant on me owning a separate tin-opener to gouge along its outer rim.
I was alone in the street. Faced with both empty sky and easy looting of the even emptier shops of a desert city’s outer suburbs. I wielded my will-power, out-staring the tin, simply daring it to stay impregnable. Opening it was after all my last hope to stem starvation.
Suddenly, I saw a speck in the distance, hovering over the otherwise empty horizon. Even the sun had fallen victim to the no fly zone. As the speck approached, I discovered it was a mere fly. A tiny pesky spiteful brute of an insect that I had once swatted to stop it landing on my mother’s specially baked cake when I was a small child. I knew it was the same fly. It carried the ancient marks of my attack – crushed and silent, yet now floating as if by some form of annoying and persistent magic to touch my face, time and time again, despite my desperately trying to flick it away.
Eventually, amid such annoyance, I managed to find in my pockets a special key to open the tin – like one of those keys attached to corned beef tins – a key that could be used to slot around the tin’s tiny tab (previously unnoticed) and then twist round and round until it unrolled the whole container….
It was crammed inside with all the insects I had killed throughout my life, whether deliberately or accidentally.
Written today and first published above