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Beware of Inanimate Objects!

A short story by Sally Berneathy

We humans…living, animate beings…have a tendency to refer to nonliving things such as chairs and tables as inanimate objects… inert and harmless. We label them thusly and then go on our way, feeling superior, smug and safe.


Fellow humans, be warned! They have deliberately lulled us into this false sense of security. We need to be aware that so-called inanimate objects can be and often are dangerous. Before it's too late, we must pass laws to protect ourselves!


Let me give you some examples of the behavior of out-of-control, evil inanimate objects. If humans had committed these atrocities, they would have been arrested, convicted and punished. But we have no legal recourse against renegade inanimate objects.


A few years ago in the middle of a Kansas City ice storm, I stepped out onto the back porch of the house where I'd lived for ten years. In all those years, the back steps had done nothing but lie there quietly, never making the slightest threatening movement until they saw their opportunity.


The instant I set foot on that top step, it slid right out from under me, whacked me on the backside and shoved me down to the next step which repeated the process! Whack, shove, whack, shove, whack, shove, all the way to the ground.


I will spare you the graphic details of my bruises. Suffice to say, they were extensive and excruciating. Had another person inflicted those injuries upon me, he'd have been charged with assault and battery and sent to jail! Those steps should have been sentenced to at least five years in maximum security with termites for guards.


Needless to say, I never trusted those steps again, but my bicycle was a different story. We have always been great friends, going for rides, soaking up the sunshine, smelling the honeysuckle. One morning my bicycle and I were out for a ride, going really fast around a cul-de-sac, leaning over, pretending to be a motorcycle…it loves doing that…when suddenly, without any warning, my bicycle fell on its side, and the pavement sprang up and viciously attacked my face!


It smashed my forehead, bloodied my nose, crushed my lips and chin, and my head hurt for days!


So far as I could tell, that pavement sustained NO injuries and, of course, received no punishment. It should have been sentenced to life in one of those prisons where the inmates still crush rocks. Wouldn't have been a very long life!


The bicycle claims it was a victim, too. Said the sand tripped it. It did sustain some scratches, and it has exhibited no violent tendencies since that time. So, for the bicycle, a suspended sentence and another chance.


My face had barely recovered from this incident when I needed to get my Christmas decorations out of the attic. The only way to get into that attic was to drag a ladder across the garage floor, center it under the small opening and climb up. Ladders are notoriously untrustworthy, so I was cautious climbing up the ladder, but I totally trusted that attic. I let it keep my stuff, for goodness sake!


I had a box of Christmas decorations in my arms, one foot still in the attic and the other on the top rung of the ladder when the two of attic and the ladder parted ways, plunging me straight down to the floor below.


As I tumbled downward, my only thought was, "Oh, lordy, I hope I don't land on my face this time."


The garage floor took pity on me and only smacked against the more padded areas of my body.


The death sentence for both the attic and the ladder. Conspiracy to commit murder. The floor…a few months in rehab and enforced separation from criminal influences.


After being so cruelly betrayed, I sold the condo that harbored that attic and moved into a house several miles away. It's a nice house. Hardwood floors, sunroom, and a lovely storm door of heavy, etched glass. I liked that door from the first time I entered that house. Apparently the feeling was not mutual.


I had some furniture delivered and propped the storm door open for the delivery guys. When they were finished, I went out on the porch, undid the latch and started back inside. That's when this lovely door, which had never done anything except sit in the doorway, preening itself in the sunshine, suddenly showed its true violent nature. Instead of gliding gently closed, it rushed forward, grabbed my ankle and tore a chunk out of my heel.


Copious bleeding, excruciating pain and 8 stitches in the emergency room.


I would have liked to do to that door what it did to me…smash it! Tear a chunk out of it! But it's an expensive door. And…did I mention?...quite lovely.


Oh, dear. Does this mean…I'm harboring a criminal?


Perhaps this would not, after all, be a good time to press for legislation against the crimes of inanimate objects. Let me redraft my proposal and get back to you.


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