The Thread by Collin Jones

The thread which secures the second-from-top transparent button on this white Brooks Brothers button-down shirt—a gift from my grandfather before he passed two years ago—has managed to wriggle itself loose, the split fibers of the thread dangling down close to the third-from-top button that rests ever so gently against a protruding sternum—a sternum I thought, since high school, I would grow into, evading the anorexic crackhead persona that had plagued my family for several generations—a sternum that had been kissed by the calloused knuckles of my closest friend on occasion when we would have what his mother called an altercation, the one for whom I am standing in this second-level bedroom at his parent’s house, gazing into a smudged mirror, fastening the second-from-top button on this shirt that had been given to me for a discounted price at the local thrift shop after I had come up a full dollar short while pulling out all the change that had been jingling in my torn jeans for the past three days, nervous that I would not have the attire to match this occasion—an occasion that has me standing in front of this smudged mirror with Polaroids wedged into its frame… my closest friend posing with a woman he had dated for four years before it happened… my closest friend and I sitting at the local bar sipping on drinks to a tune I cannot remember… my closest friend, again, with the woman he had dated for four years by a pool in Kentucky… my closest friend—Aviators beneath a Green Bay hat that featured a partially torn brim—holding a brand new Winchester 12 Gauge he had purchased just because he felt like it… my closest friend, celebrating his twenty-first birthday, darkened rings around his blue eyes, as if the graveyard shift at the grain factory had just about done him in… my closest friend, sitting on his four-wheeler under a gray sky, cornfields out of focus behind him, unsure where to go after the photo is taken… my closest friend, on the day of his death, wearing a button-down on his way to his first office job after acquiring his GED and graduating with an associate’s degree from the local community college… my closest friend, having proposed just moments before, kissing the love of his life—the very same woman who I spot out the window, just a moment ago, slam the door to her red Jeep Wrangler—now waddling her way to the front door of the house through the muddy front yard, heels in hand—the same hand that had, countless times, caressed the missing head of my closest friend, who I am to be committing to remembrance downstairs with others in just under thirty minutes if I can get myself to stop worrying about the dangling thread on the second-from-top button on this stained button-down shirt I stole from a department store’s clearance rack a couple days ago after having nearly forgotten about this get-together—a get-together I honestly could not care less about, all things considered, but which has, nevertheless, brought to mind this habit of humming I recently developed, typically brought on by a memory that ignites shame or embarrassment—the sort of memory that makes my skin crawl, such as the thought that this button-down shirt fits a smidgen too loosely, hmmm hmmm, the splintered thread swinging back and forth from the second-from-top button, hmmm hmmm, back and forth, back and forth, hmmm hmmm, like a pendulum, hmmm hmmm, like a grandaddy clock, hmmm hmmm, like many things, hmmm hmmm hmmm. 

BIO: Collin Jones is a philosophical pessimist working on his MFA in Minnesota—forthcoming novel in late 2021