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A Paper Clip
by Peter McMillan

Holding things together is what I was meant to do. But here I am just lying around, unused with a bunch of other No. 2 silver look-a-like do-nothings. At most we get shuffled around once in a while, when they are looking for something, and every now and then, one of us gets plucked out, and it's then I imagine what it must be like to be useful, even if it's just keeping together a
short stack of paper. It might be photographs; it might be newspaper clippings. It might be a report or even a short story manuscript; or it could be bills. But it could also be business cards, coupons, credit card slips, lottery tickets, etc. All the possibilities, and yet none of us ever gets to know what actually happens out there. I still believe it's exciting. It has to be. It can't be like living in a box.

I was the last of a 100-count box, and I just couldn't wait for that drawer to open again, because that's when it sometimes happened. I knew that I had to be selected soon, and I had a feeling, which I kept to myself, that it was going to be something big, something special, much more special than what any of the others had been singled out for. It had to be. I was the last, and I had been saved for a really important purpose.

The time that passed seemed to be without end. I don't get tired and I don't sleep, but I know that time passes. The drawer opened 35 times since the last one of us was taken. That's a record. I've kept track, and I'm good with numbers.

What distressed me most was the sudden appearance of another box. This one was much bigger—maybe four or five or ten times bigger—than mine. Its many layers were visible when the label was turned the other way. Time after time, when the drawer opened, the little coloured paper clips were lifted out of the large round box, while I waited for my turn—the turn that I'd been waiting for so long.

Then one day it seemed all my waiting was going to pay off. The drawer was opened, and I was pinched between thumb and forefinger and pulled from the box just before it was tossed into the waste basket. My premonitions were confirmed. I was being saved for something big. Within seconds I found out how big. The fleshy pink forceps dropped me into a vast transparent cylinder filled with hundreds of vinyl-coated, coloured paper clips.