To Infinity and Beyond by Emil Ostrovski
by Benjamin Imamovic
Our story is a toy story. A Buzz-fricking-Light-year story. A story about a little plastic space-cadet modeled after a little plastic space cadet who had some kind of god-complex, always going on about ‘to infinity and beyond.’ What nerve.
But our Buzz-fricking-Lightyear is not the Buzz fricking Lightyear. He can’t talk, he can’t walk, he can’t really do much of anything. All he does is sit at the top of some snot-nose kid’s dresser, until he gets moved to the closet, and from there to the basement, and from there to a garage sale where snot-nosed-kid turned snot-nosed-teen will sell him for a dollar fifty to a boy down the block and use that same dollar fifty to buy a wad of gum to chew when he’s in the bathroom, wacking off to his mom’s Victoria’s Secret magazines (the taste of straw-berry mixed pig fat puts him in the mood, and who can judge, really?) His mom, incidentally, has been wondering where all her Victoria’s Secret magazines are disappearing to, and sometime in the near future, when snot-nosed-teen is in the bathroom chewing on the second-to-last piece of that wad of gum, doing his thing and giving out little teen-boy-grunts that sound really awkward because his voice is still in that strange sort of transition state, when he is sitting there on the toilet hard at work with all this chewing and pulling and grunting, the door will swing open and mother will stare at son and son will stare at mother and then there will be yelling about privacy and knocking and Victoria’s Secret magazines and how mom thought the dog was having a seizure in the bathroom again, and who can blame her, really?
But our Buzz fricking Lightyear is no longer a part of their lives, and he will not bear witness to any of this. He is now owned by a different snot-nosed boy, who is, incidentally, fat. Fat snot-nosed boy is busy trying to do pushups in his room, to become less fat, right around the time when the mom of Buzz’s former owner pulls a SWAT team on him. Every part of fat snot-nosed boy’s fat protesting body knows this pushup thing isn’t working, he’s shaking like a North Korean rocket within seconds of liftoff and finds himself entertaining the probability of spontaneous combustion. The pressure mounts, but he won’t quit—he wants so badly for the snot-nosed-kids at school to stop asking him how many donuts he ate for breakfast, because the answer is always the same, three god-damn-it, never ever more than three, and what business is it of theirs anyway, isn’t America the kind of country where he should have the liberty to eat as many goddamn donuts as he pleases? He feels like John Locke or whoever the hell they’re studying in US history, who said “give me liberty or give me death.” Of course, if fat kid wasn’t too busy getting stuck with spitballs to pay attention in class, he would know that John Locke has nothing to do with anything, aside from getting ripped off by Tommy J.
Buzz fricking Lightyear watches his new owner like a pagan God observing the death of Jesus, watches the daily crucifixion at the hands of classmates culminate into this single moment, this failure—of tectonic proportions—to perform even a single pushing of the up of fatness. A great thunder rips through the room, and Buzz’s owner collapses onto the floor, sobbing at everything up to and including the fact that he thinks he just shat his pants (he is right.) Still, Buzz fricking Lightyear remains impassive. This is because Buzz fricking Lightyear is a fricking toy. An animate object. The overpriced labor of love of some Chinese factory worker, because yes, love does have a price, and sometimes, ten dollars new, dollar fifty used, is just too high.
Fat snotty McCrapmypants, in the greatest low of his American middle-class, white-picket-fence, golden-retriever-owning, you’re-going-to-school-whether-you-like-it-or-not life, looks up and meets the gaze of Buzz fricking Lightyear, inanimate object extraordinaire, and he feels the welling up of hope—Buzz fricking Lightyear is his hero. This is because Fat Snotty is an imbecile. But when, in school the next day, Mark, with all his lanky coolness and gelled blond hair asks him how many donuts he ate for breakfast, our imbecile remembers Buzz and lets out a war shriek of the kind the world has only twice heard of, but we won’t get into that. And after his war shriek, fat snotty McCrapmypants head-butts cool, lanky Mark to infinity and beyond. With a broken nose.
After this, the kids do not ask anymore, how many donuts Fat Snotty ate for breakfast. For giving him the courage to head-butt Mark in the face, Buzz fricking Lightyear earns a special place in Fat Snotty’s clogged little heart. So when Fat Snotty knocks up his junior prom date and chooses a family over college, he knows someday he will pass his toy Buzz on, to his fat, snotty son. And this then, is the toy story. The Buzz fricking lightyear story. An infinite regress of fat, snotties, passing on our Buzz to the fat snotty of the next generation, and the next, and the next. This then, is infinity and beyond.
Emil Ostrovski is a 21 year old philosophy major at Vassar College. He is represented by Laura Langlie of the Laura Langlie literary agency, has been previously published in Word Riot, and has a forthcoming short story titled They Keep Their Silence, also in Word Riot.