Brad Aaron Modlin


What we don't know about the human appendix is what it once did for us. Now, at best, it only sits in our abdomens, unused. (Would-be philosophers among us should avoid reading too much into this. [See Appendix A])

Maybe once it fought against poisons we'd swallowed (See Appendix A.), but now it flaps at the intersection of the large and small intestines, and we only notice it when we cut it away.

Around the turn of the 21st century (See Appendix A.), I had my appendix removed. A person has to keep up with the times.

A college sophomore, I prided myself on my busyness: clubs, councils, vice-presidencies, people to greet, names to remember, getting-to-know-you questions to ask (See Appendix A.) flag-football games to run in, enormous wall calendars to complete, classes to prepare for, pressure to try to thrive in, reasons to stay awake till dawn. When appendicitis struck Monday of finals week, I scheduled the operation between exams.

It was a way I described myself then. A story I liked to tell.

No longer in college, I have more time, which some Tuesday evenings makes me feel sad. Like all my thoughts are afterthoughts.

On those Tuesdays, I wonder if being busy and being useful are maybe the same trait, and if I am neither.

I stir around the house, picking up paperweights and unread books and setting them back down. I open the back door and stand, not quite stepping outside, not quite staying in. For as many as ten minutes, the screen door with the missing screen has its own way of flapping in the wind. (See Appendix B.)







Appendix A

List of things often considered unnecessary and/or outdated: Typewriters; cursive; philosophy; the 20th century; cartoons about friendly animals; old computers; art; letters of advice; people once called experts; '57 Buicks; books; postage stamps; food farmed without poison; waiting; waiting in lines; talking to the person behind you in line; talking to people you have not first Googled.




Appendix B

The premier symptom of appendicitis: Touch your stomach, just to the right of your navel. If when you pull your finger away, when the pressure leaves—it hurts.







[The old future.]

[The way we used to laugh.]

[For the strong-stomached.]