Eva filed her nails into three distinct points so each fingernail looked like a mauve holly leaf. She was 90 and had a dead husband. Her wardrobe consisted of colorful moo-moos vastly improved by tobacco stains. She lived two doors down from us in the dumpy apartment complex we lived in when I was seven.

One afternoon I was given the task of collecting and disposing of the mercury from her broken thermometer.  On my hands and knees, determined to do a good job, I started sweeping the carpet with my hands.  Every bead I touched shattered and multiplied exponentially until it became an ungatherable cloud of glittering dust. Eva stood over me watching me silently.  I was mortified.

When she was satisfied I had recognized my impending failure, she looked at my face warmly.  Then she stood me up, cupped my little hands in her tri-tipped claws and said, “mercury is poison.”


  1. Oooh… gave me chills!

  2. The characters of your past are simply incredible. That you didn’t grow up to be a total fucktard is amazing. You’re not a total fucktard, right? You seem ok, but I guess I don’t know for sure.

    • It was a steady stream of what-not-to-do. Helpful! I’m only a fucktard when it comes to technology. I had to sell my soul to the devil just to be able to use my iPhone. Otherwise, I’m mostly bright and harmless : )

  3. Great image, and I love your use of the word – mortified – here.

  4. Hey Molly,
    (Not in a bad way) A little creepy. Fun story though I think I missed something.

    • Yep, she was creepy. But sweet at the same time. Sort of. I didn’t understand it either. That’s why I wrote the post about it. Still haven’t figured it out. Oh well – moving on haha. Thanks for stopping by : )

  5. Did this really happen?? Eva is a crazy old bag!! lol

  6. What she should have said was, “I am poison, even compared to mercury.”

  7. Awesome story. You’re on fire with the writing!

  8. This post is incredible.Nice share and keep on with good work.Alex,Thanks.

  9. Although I would love to settle in here her stories over two tumblers of whiskey (because you know she’s a brown liquor kind of gal),Eva scares me just a little.

  10. I like short posts like this from time to time. More dramatic. Lingers. X

    • Thanks : ) That lady was creepy as shit but I’ll never touch a broken thermometer again – know that haha.

      • Sounds it. I once made my cousin put a thermometer into a stew to pretend he had a temperature and was ill. It shattered. Luckily I was old enough to know mercury is poison, and forced him to admit “his” naughty deed. I remember my yaya searching for bits of glass before sighing and throwing it all away, and inside I was thinking ” it’s not the glass you should be worried about, it’s the mercury”. When I told my kids this story, they couldn’t believe thermometers used to be made of glass (with poison inside!). Ah, the good old days lol.

      • Omg what a tale! I love that you got him to “admit” it hahaha. Makes me grateful for the plastic digital tools we have now : )

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