What follows is the story of how our bag Windy got stuck in her tree. When I initially wrote it, I sent it to a writer’s workshop blog for publication. But because that blog is now defunct and my link to it doesn’t work, I thought I’d revive the story and publish it here on The Junk Drawer. This is her home anyway.
Note that this was well before we named her Windy. When I interviewed her, she was known simply as “Plastic Bag” and I refer to her as “it.” Sad, I know.
And now I give you ….
Caught Between a Branch and a Hard Place
The lone plastic bag you see pictured here has been stuck in this tree for nearly three weeks. Since it looks like it’ll be a while before it gets down, I thought I’d take a moment and see how it’s faring up there.
KF: I see you’ve been stuck for a while. How’d it happen?
Plastic Bag: Wind and bad luck, that’s how. I’d been bobbing around on the ground for a day or so, and then there was one massive updraft that kept me afloat for almost a minute. I was headed right for this tree and hoped for a change in direction, but instead I kept going straight. Couldn’t do a thing about it.
KF: You almost made it over the top, I see. How’d you feel when you got stuck instead?
Plastic Bag: Deflated, so deflated. I thought I was gonna make it, but my left handle caught a branch. The wind slammed me down and then my right handle caught another. The kicker is that if the tree had leaves, I’m certain I would have just skimmed the top and bounced right over. Wrong place at the wrong time, you know?
KF: Tough break. What have you been doing since you got there?
Plastic Bag: Basically, watching everyone walk by below. Almost no one from the ground notices me. A cute little finch came by last week, but barely stayed long enough to say hi. But I see you’ve been watching me from the third floor of your building. Thanks. I appreciate that. I sense it bothers you that I’m up here.
KF: It does, actually. You don’t belong there.
Plastic Bag: You’re not kidding. I’m supposed to be in a landfill by now, with my friends. No one’s heard from me for weeks and I know they’re worried. Probably think I got shoved into a great big bag of bags people keep in their kitchens. Some of us are lucky and get used over and over. Eventually we get to a landfill, but you expect to get used at least twice before then. I never got that chance.
KF: So what were you doing before this happened?
Plastic Bag: Toting pharmacy items for a woman who almost got me home in time. Sweet lady. She’d picked up a few things for her husband, as much as I can tell from what she stuffed in me. Some One-a-Day Vitamins for Men, razor blades and a pair of reading glasses. The glasses could have been hers, not sure.
Anyway, she stopped at a friend’s house on the way home to pick up some paperback books she was borrowing. She dumped my stuff so she could bag the books. Her friend met her outside, and when she was just about to fill me — BAM! — a wind snatched me right out of her hand and off I went.
I glanced back to see if she was chasing me, but instead she was fishing around in her car for some other bag. I thought we were going to have more time together. I thought this would be more than a ten-minute use. I’m so disappointed. We could have had something.
KF: You’ve had a rough life so far. Do you have any hopes of getting out of this tree?
Plastic Bag: Not really. At least not in one piece. My handles are still strong, and they’ve got a tight grip. I managed to pick the highest spot in the tallest tree in this courtyard, so I’m not really counting on getting back to land until summer, at the earliest.
The only thing that could save me is if you get a cherry picker up here. But who’s gonna do that for a bag? I figure I’m here for the long haul, getting wind-whipped until I’m just shreds of my former self. I try not to think about it.
KF: You know, you might get lucky and someone will pull you out. You picked a tree on a university campus. The big-wigs want everything to look nice for prospective students and their parents. No offense, but you’re spoiling the aesthetics a bit.
Plastic Bag: I know that! Don’t you think I know that?
KF: I’m sorry. I realize this isn’t your fault.
Plastic Bag: You got that right. The thing is I don’t want to be here any more than you want to see me here. If you want to help, tell someone high on the food chain about me. And try to do it before the leaves come in. If you wait too long, I’ll disappear when the tree fills out and then no one will care. Pray I’m not still here next winter.
KF: I’ll see what I can do. If I get you out, I promise I’ll reuse you until your seams split.
Plastic Bag: Awesome. I’ll wait. Until then, keeping watching for me. I just might set myself free. All I need is a wind and a prayer.