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The Student Art & Literary Site of Community College of Allegheny County

The Phoenix

The Student Art & Literary Site of Community College of Allegheny County

The Phoenix

The Student Art & Literary Site of Community College of Allegheny County

The Phoenix

On the Sunny Side

“If we still had that kind of toothpaste, I would put it on you again,” Marge said to her toaster.

Normally it would be strange for someone to be talking to their toaster, but this story is about the toaster, so of course she would talk to it. Besides, there was no one else to talk to, or at least, no one who remembered. She had a forty-five-year-old son, but he didn’t know what happened when he was three. The toaster did.

He was a nice old toaster, so wide that it looked like his two slots were put on sideways and sporting a bright shiny silver color. Or at least he was shiny fifty years ago. But Marge loved him, chubby old thing, so she kept him. He wore a name badge that said Sunbeam Vista Radiant Control, but Marge just called him Sunny.

On slow, lonely afternoons like this Marge and Sunny would talk about the old days, the times when Tom and Marge were just married and Sunny was new. Now Tom was gone, and Sunny could only toast bread in one slot. Even if he didn’t work at all, Marge would have kept him to remember Tom by. And so, this afternoon she and Sunny were talking.

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“You didn’t like me with toothpaste then,” said Sunny.

“No, Tom was the humorous one,” Marge remembered, “I thought you needed scrubbed.”

“That didn’t work very well.”

“No, you were probably worse off from my cleaning than you were from the toothpaste. But we never let children brush their teeth in the kitchen again.”

“That was a good thing.”

“There were other things they did to you.”

“Oh, I know.”

“That reminds me, I met someone the other day who knows a lot about toasters your age. He can take care of you much better than I can. After a bit at Henry’s, you’ll feel as good as new.”

Sunny knew that Marge would not like to leave him. “What will you do without me?”

“I’ll still see you, and Henry will give you back when you are feeling better.”

Sunny was apprehensive about living with a stranger, but he trusted Marge and was willing to go to Henry’s. If Marge thought that Henry was trustworthy, he couldn’t be that bad.

Of course, talking about being taken away by a stranger is very different from experiencing it. It was obviously harder for Sunny to be calm when the time came to go. But he was not a foolish toaster; he knew that everything would be fine as soon as he was in Henry’s house and had settled down to a routine, and anyway Marge had promised to visit him to make sure he was secure.

In fact, it turned out that for a while he was a little too secure. Sunny had been left on a table in one of the rooms of the house where Henry rarely went. Once he came in to grab a string of Christmas lights, and another time he took some pictures of Sunny posing with a ruler, but generally Sunny’s days were spent in the dark, missing Marge.

“Is this how Henry takes care of old toasters?” he wondered. “Maybe Marge was wrong about his experience with my model. Maybe he has never seen a toaster so thick before, and it’s taking him a long time to figure out how to use me.”

One day Henry left the light on by mistake, and Sunny was free to look around. Of course, a toaster can’t move, but from his vantage point on the table he could see that he was in a small room with a large open closet. The walls of the room were lined with bookshelves, and there were stacks of tools, toys, and appliances all around. The closet was mostly taken up with row after row of drawers, all marked with numbers and letters on small strips of tape. It also contained three red vacuums.

Sunny shared his table, (which was near the only washing machine, a beige Kelvinator) with a grumpy and reclusive waffle maker; a book, which was open to a picture of a bunch of parts, and a pile of parts, which bore only slight resemblance to the picture in the book.

Right beside Sunny was a half-assembled jigsaw puzzle. He could not tell what the picture on it was. He could make out grass, and water, and sky, and… people!

Sunny was delighted by this revelation. By now it had been several days since he had seen Henry, and he was glad to be in the company of humans, even if they were only in a picture. “That one looks like Marge,” he thought, “but that corner of her face is missing. If only I could put the puzzle together; then I would really know if it was her.”

Sunny paused, “I should be able to use this puzzle. After all, it doesn’t seem like all the other things of Henry’s that I see here, so he must have put it here for me. How inconsiderate to ‘take care of’ a toaster by giving it toys it can’t use!”

But then Henry came, and after leaving a Sunbeam Vista Radiant Control heating element on Sunny’s table and another red vacuum in the closet, turned off the light and left.

Sunny became alarmed when he realized the significance of the heating element. “Is that what Marge meant when she said he would take care of me? Did she know that Henry takes care of toasters by taking them apart?”

He did not have much time to ponder this, however, because Henry came back the next night. It appeared that Sunny’s fear had come true: Henry had taken out a set of screwdrivers and began to methodically take Sunny apart! Corner by corner, screw by screw, Sunny could feel himself start to fall apart as the screwdriver dug out his parts. Before he knew it, he collapsed on the table, open to the whims of the man with the screwdriver.

Sunny watched feebly as Henry proudly brushed, scoured, and polished many of his parts, then left the room with some others.

At this point Sunny slipped into a coma.

It was Sunday when Henry came back into Sunny’s room, where the poor toaster was still unconscious. He carried with him the same parts that he had taken away last time, but now they had a shine that made them almost unrecognizable. He set them on the table beside the other parts, and proceeded to piece together the pile that once was Sunny’s body.

Sunny awoke when he felt a spark of power flow through his power cord. It felt like he was being plugged into a wall socket, but then again, it also felt like he had a working right side element and a three-prong plug, and everyone knows that Sunny would never be able to have either! He was in a kitchen, and he thought he saw Marge standing beside Henry as he dropped two pieces of bread into him. Then Sunny realized that maybe it was all real.

Marge could tell what Sunny was thinking. “What have you done with the toaster?”

Henry replied, “Mostly just cleaned it up a bit. Also I replaced a heating element, adjusted the spring tension, and replaced the power cord with a brand new one with a three-prong plug.” Sunny carefully eased out the finished toast and Henry gave it to Marge: “You want some?”

Marge thanked him and took the toast, as Henry put in some more bread.

“Where did you learn how to do that?” Marge asked.

“Oh, this toaster works so smooth, you don’t have to know how.”

Sunny beamed with pride.

“I know, but how did you make it work smoothly again?”

“I worked for a repair shop when these were new. We got manuals by the dozen for these, though we never needed them much. Most the time, all it took to fix them was a little screw down in the bottom that would tighten or loosen the spring.”

And on they went, all through the evening: Marge, Henry, and most of all, Sunny. He made them enough toast to feed every vacuum in the closet, and, besides several Ziploc bags that they saved for later, Marge and Henry ate it all too. They were all happy; they all had each other.

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