This is a project for one of my classes. I wrote and recorded the story based on the object of an empty pizza box. Please press play and read along if you want to.
In a perfect world, I would have a fresh pizza box on a table outside in a park, with a pair of headphones connected to an mp3 player. The patron would sit down, put the headphones in, and eat pizza as they listen to the story unfold. The headphones/mp3 player would be motion sensored to the opening of the pizza box, beginning the story.
I was running late to Mikey’s, had to pick up a 24 pack. It was Game 7 of the NHL conference playoffs, and I was not planning on missing puck drop. I passed the delivery man in the driveway as I walked to the front door. No need to knock. I walked through the door and the smell of 5 large pizzas hit me immediately in the face, and the glow of the television illuminated down the hallway.
“Yo!” I yelled.
“C’mon dude, the anthems just finished!”
I jog-walked the last four steps and entered the room. Glorious pizza stacked up on the table. Pepperoni, Hawaiian, Meat-Lovers, Cheese, and Deluxe. All the classics.
“What up boys.” Mikey and Dave threw up peace signs. Matt fist-bumped me and Jeff patted me on the back as I sat down beside him on the beer-stained couch.
“Pabst for all,” I said, passing out the cans for the other four guys.
“I see you spared no expense,” Mikey grinned.
The whistle blew, the puck dropped, and the game began. We chowed down and chatted between whistles. Work had been very busy for me, and it had been a while since I’d hung out with the guys. About 5 minutes into the first period, I heard a door open from one of the bedrooms. I glanced over, and Mikey’s girlfriend came out, followed by the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.
“Who the hell is that?” I whispered to Jeff, trying to be subtle, but clearly not succeeding.
“Oh that’s just Angie, Kenzie’s little sister. She’s visiting from out of town. Don’t mind her, she’s cool.”
Oh, I didn’t mind her at all. I introduced myself and asked if she’d like some pizza.
“Yea, I would love a slice of Hawaiian. It tastes like island candy!”
We made eyes at each other through the rest of the game. I honestly don’t even remember who won. Angie had eyes like a Mediterranean bay, chestnut hair that cascaded down her back, and was as witty as any person I’d ever met. I didn’t believe in love at first sight until that very moment.
Angie and I grabbed a pizza and went out for a picnic in the warm summer air for our two year anniversary. Half pepperoni, half “island candy.” We went to the city park and threw our blanket down on a grassy hill under a big oak tree.
“Too bad we can’t stay here forever. This is the best,” Angie smiled up at me.
“Every day with you is the best, Candy.”
I’m sure you can figure out where the pet name came from.
It was true, and I meant it. Every day, she surprised me in ways I couldn’t imagine. If you asked me 3 years earlier who my perfect girl was, I would have not described Angie at all. I would have said tall, blonde, and athletic. Ang was short, brunette, and was way more of a curl-up-at-home-with-a-book kind of girl than a let’s-hit-the-gym kind of girl. But she was perfect.
“Look at the old couple over there. That will be us one day, won’t it?” she asked through a mouth full of pizza, followed by a big swig of cream soda, her drink of choice.
“Could you be more cliche?” I asked. But inside, I was giddy. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, because her mind, her personality, is something that will last long into our senior years, rather than looks that fade so quickly.
She began to cough. I glanced up at her.
She nodded, waving her hand dismissively.
And then she began to choke.
“Oh, oh, uh, take a drink.”
I lifted her drink up to her lips. She grabbed it and took a long gulp.
Silence. Everything stopped. Her eyes opened wide.
She’s choking, I thought. Fully. Oh no, it can’t-it can’t end like this.
I prepared myself to use what little first aid training I remembered from 5th grade.
She froze. Everything froze.
“Well, that was dramatic,” she said matter-of-factly.
I jumped at the sound of her voice.
“What the hell! I thought you were dying!”
“I know. It was hilarious.”
I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding.
“It felt like there was something stuck in my throat…like a quarter or something.”
I blushed. I had hidden an engagement ring in her side of the pizza when she went to the bathroom (like she always needs to do, no matter where we go).
I thought she would have found it before biting into it. It was pretty obvious.
“Yea…uh, well…” I said. What was I going to do now?
Better late than never I guess.
“Yes?” she took another drink of pop. “This thing is, like, stuck in my esophagus.”
I get up on one knee.
“Baby, will you marry me?”
She spat out her drink. But not like in the movies where it’s a nice spray (which would have been very fitting). It just dribbled down her chin and got all over her shirt.
“Yes! Yes, yes, yes!”
She grabbed me around the neck and kissed me before breaking it off and asked “aren’t you supposed to have a ring?”
“Well, I did…”
I literally saw her connect the dots.
We went to the hospital shortly after.
Cold pizza for breakfast is my absolute favourite, but Ang hates it. She always tries to either finish her half before it gets cold, or leaves at least two pieces for her to warm up as lunch for the next day. But today, a cold January day, I sit alone in the dark, 6am, eating cold pizza and sipping flat pop, for the third day in a row. I still have a lot of left over pizza in the fridge. Mikey and Jeff even came by a couple days ago to try and help me finish some of it off. We did make a dent in it while watching whatever sport was on, as we tend to do.
It was so nice to see them again. It’s been a while since we’d hung out. Since Angie and I moved away from town, actually.
It was nice to see a lot of our old friends at Angie’s funeral.
Her mother hated the idea of having pizza at her funeral, but it’s what she always wanted. We definitely ordered too much, though. So here I am, left with boxes and boxes full of island candy in one hand, and an empty heart in the other. Again, an obvious cliche, but Ang and I had a game where we tried to use as many cliches as possible when talking to people we didn’t know, like I’m doing right now. It’s the little things like that that I miss the most about her. The stuff that only I knew. I mean, everyone knew how witty, and how kind, and how gracious she was. But it’s the way she breathed loudly through her nostrils when she got mad, the way she needed 3 blankets when she slept, the way she fiercely hated the colour purple, the way she messed up baking brownies so bad I had to use a fire extinguisher, the way she absolutely adored TLC shows, despite my constant nagging. I miss the way she would shove her hands up my shirt when they were cold, the way she would vent for an hour every day after work, the way she got strangely competitive playing board games for someone who was so loving and gracious, the way she always wanted to travel, but loved being at home more. I miss all of those things-and more.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to eat Hawaiian pizza ever again. Right now, though, I don’t really have a choice. Cold, island candy. Maybe I should be drinking some Pina Colada or something, although that’s more Mexico than Hawaii isn’t it?
I glance over at the garbage can, a pile of pizza boxes stacked up beside it. And I think back to all the pizza boxes we fell in love over, shared life over, and now, they’re just empty.
Empty pizza boxes.