After Ralph shot himself, a cousin discovered his closet full of dresses and ran them down to the dumpster behind the building before anyone else in the family saw them. Ralph no longer cared who knew his secret. He was dead, after all – finally released from the weird stress of pretending to be male. Oblivion, he hoped, would be sweeter.
He didn’t expect to be reincarnated as a block of clay. Would you? Yet to Ralph it was not entirely an unpleasant surprise. He discovered that blocks of clay have some abilities unknown in his previous human existence. While he didn’t actually have any senses, he did have a certain kind of awareness of his surroundings and could drift a tiny bit outside himself and look back to get a sense of where he was. This is how he learned he was wrapped in plastic and sitting on a shelf. Without a brain it was a little hard to read the sign on the shelf in front of him, but Ralph got the idea that he was on sale.
Time passed, as it does for inanimate objects. Days can go by with absolutely nothing happening, yet they rarely get bored. Ralph knew he had the option to reflect on his past life, but he was still enjoying his new experience and was not in the mood to dwell on old failures.
He was a gray block of clay. No one expected him to behave like a sphere or a pyramid. Humans would wander past and sometimes look at his pricetag. Once a human reached past him and took away a gray block of clay that looked exactly like him. Ralph wasn’t sure what to think about that.
He discovered he didn’t have strong feelings about being bought or not being bought. The store was an interesting enough place and he wasn’t especially eager to leave it. He knew from his previous life how things could go from bad to worse rather quickly, and experience had made him a bit of a pessimist.
Until the girl with the green hat came into the store. She was young and lean and Ralph was enchanted by her clear blue eyes. She wore a red peasant skirt that was similar to a skirt Ralph once owned.
She didn’t seem to know what she wanted to buy. First she was fiddling with the rubber stamps, then she opened a few of the colored pencil sets, and cooed at the orderly rainbows inside. Ralph wanted to hop off the shelf and plop into her knapsack.
Blocks of clay can’t do this, of course, but sometimes they can slightly adjust some of their qualities if they feel intensely enough about a situation.
Ralph tried to wobble. He thought about swaying back and forth, perhaps enough to tumble over on his side, making a noise to attract the girl’s attention. He couldn’t do this. But maybe he could get his plastic wrapper to crinkle somehow? He tried pushing against it, but blocks of clay can’t push.
Somehow all this intense feeling must have caught the girl’s attention, because she suddenly turned around and stared right at Ralph.
There was a long moment as they just stared at each other. Then the girl in the green hat put down the pencil set and reached up and took Ralph in her hands.
Ralph felt dizzy as she took him up to her nose and sniffed him. He had a fresh, claylike odor, even through the plastic wrapper. Her fingers were soft and strong. Ralph pressed against the palm of her hand, melting slightly and remembering her contour.
Then she was carrying him toward the front of the store. Ralph was paid for and stuffed into her knapsack. It was warm and dark and full of her essence. He shuddered with bliss, and carefully examined her palmprint on his side.
Time passed. It may have been weeks, which feel like hours when you’re a thing. Something about the girl in the green hat had brought back a flood of memories from when Ralph was trying to be a man. His short, heartbreaking time with that girl in high school – what was her name? No matter. What joy she brought him in those early days! How giddy she made him feel, just by standing next to him. Later, her disappointments, and her eventual dismissal of him, were better forgotten.
One day the bag was opened and Ralph was suddenly taken in her hands. His wrapping was quickly stripped away and discarded, and the girl was pressing her thumbs deep into him as he gazed up in ecstasy. She worked him thoroughly until he was soft, then kneaded a wire deep inside him. To Ralph’s astonishment, he began to take on a human shape. The girl molded legs and arms for him, reinforced with the wire, then skillfully sculpted a small head to sit on his shoulders.
Ralph shuddered as she pressed against his stomach, slimming him there and broadening his chest. She spent a very long time on his chest, rounding it precisely until he had two full upturned breasts. Then she focused on his legs, trimming them and curving them to her liking. She added pretty little feet and stretched his arms out in a gesture that left Ralph wide open, as if he wanted to embrace the world.
And for the first time ever, he really did. He really did.