Nothing at All

Nothing Nelly did was good enough. Her mother never wanted her. Her foster parents hated her. The other kids laughed and called her Nilly. Nobody was her friend. She wished she’d never been born.

For most of her life no one had given Nelly the time of day. “But one day,” she swore, “If they won’t give it to me – I’ll take it for myself!” So Nelly set her mind on building a machine, a machine that would create nothing, out of nothing at all. “It’s like a drum,” she said. “A drum booms when you beat it. What makes a drum make a boom? There’s nothing inside – so nothing makes a drumbeat boom.”

She poured diesel fuel over fertilizer in a big, red steel barrel; with a trashcan lid held above her she crouched inside. Her matchbook nearly exhausted she at last lit the very last one. As she watched the yellow flame dance in the darkness, she thought of a drum and what made a drumbeat boom. When the fire burned down to bite her finger she flicked it away saying, “Here goes nothing!”

Nothing she did was good enough.

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