Ecuador was a cardboard box. But before that was the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statues of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of Alexandria. Then, of course, Ecuador. Ecuador towered at a magnificent thirteen inches, sand-colored and open. Four bent flaps hung at its sides like open arms.
Nobody liked the New Ecuadorians. They were silverfish. Their hobbies included secret meetings under bathroom rugs and general loitering. Edgar was the worst of the silverfish. First of all, he was ugly. Everyone thought so.
Ecuador was a cardboard box on somebody’s floor. Inside Ecuador was a slice of bread, years old, molding at the edges. To the New Ecuadorians, this was green mountains waving into summer springs, this was water rushing from snow-kissed rocks, this was weary alpacas resting under babaco trees.
Edgar was small. Very small, very metallic. A limp noodle dipped in mercury. He stood on his tiptoes, he stretched his antennas, but nobody bought it. They knew he was small, embarrassingly small.
Edgar carried a Bible everywhere he went, returning to its pages like a relative you’re conditioned to love. He thought it would make him good, but nobody bought that either. It’s supposed to make people good, he thought. Maybe his was broken.
Ecuador was a cardboard box on somebody’s floor in somebody’s bedroom. Outside Ecuador, there was space. Space was strewn objects, balled-up socks like littered planets, reaching into darkness, under beds and into closets. Above Ecuador was a ceiling fan, and New Ecuadorian astrologists studied its orbit.
Edgar was a New Ecuadorian astrologist. This was a good job, and maybe the only good that others saw in Edgar. If you asked them, “Hey, why don’t you like Edgar?” they’d say, “I don’t know, man. He just gives off a bad vibe. Cool job, though.”
Rafael Correa was the president of Ecuador. He lived in Carondelet Palace, across from Hotel Plaza Grande and near some Pop-Tart crumbs. He was elected through “I don’t know, man. He just gives off a good vibe.” Everything in Ecuador ran off vibes.
If you were interested in the world, you were an astrologist. Not many silverfish were. They worked nine-to-fives; they had lovers; they had families. Edgar had time to know the world. He spent hours sketching glow-in-the-dark star formations.
In Ecuador, God was real. Nobody was an atheist, and there were no denominations, no sects. Everybody knew God, and he was a stone maize-head named Zaramama. Zaramama was a household god. He rested as a bust in toothpick shrines on silverfish hearths.
Edgar was curious because he was ugly. The more insignificant he felt, the easier it was to be outside his body, and the world was so big.
The bedroom that cradled Ecuador, that existed beyond cardboard walls, was wild. Dozens of New Ecuadorians died there, but you never saw the bodies. They were stepped on, they were flushed. Silverfish mothers buried invisible sons. They asked Zaramama, “Why do people kill us?” And Zaramama, stone maize-head, low booming voice, replied, “Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe y’all are giving off bad vibes.”
Edgar had a theory about vibes. It’s nature, not nurture. You’re born with a vibe, and you can’t change it.
Zaramama and Rafael Correa were lovers. It had been a thing for a while. While walking through historic Ecuador, you could see them at a high-end café, laughing over llapingachos.
Edgar’s name backwards is Ragde, and that’s what he’d name a daughter if he ever had one. He knew he’d never have a daughter.
Edgar placed his telescope with his sense of wonder. He was searching for something beyond him, something to make him forget how he looked. He peeked through his telescope, across Ecuador, straight across, into Carondelet Palace, into Rafael Correa’s bedroom, to see that presidential thorax thrust into Zaramama.
“Oh,” Edgar said.
Edgar had never been in love, never had a desire to. He couldn’t stop watching. Rafael Correa threw his head back, long antennas twitching violently as he came, and Zaramama’s stone eyes rolled back.
“Oh,” Edgar said again.
In an interview with Zaramama, a journalist/mother of two said, “I’m a mother of two. President Correa wants to enact an Over the Wall draft. As you know, many silverfish that leave Ecuador do not return. Do you support President Correa sending our young men and women past the borders?”
“Oh, yeah, yikes,” Zaramama said. “As God, I love all my children. You guys know this. Yes, I support Rafael— politically and romantically. Yes, we are involved. And, yes, I love him, but I have a duty to my subjects as well. So, you’re kind of putting me in a weird corner here.”
“Do you love President Correa more than the rest of us?” she asked.
Zaramama looked past her. “I don’t know,” he said. Then, “Wow, maybe I do.”
Edgar was sent beyond the walls, further into the bedroom, to explore the world. The draft was federally ratified as a good vibe, so it passed. Rafael Correa wanted to rule more of something, but he didn’t want to risk claiming it himself.
“Zaramama and I agreed on this,” Rafael Correa said in his official statement. “This is the gospel and the law.”
Before the shoe crushed him, as it was raised in the air, Edgar studied its patterns like stars. Swirls twisted in and out of each other in big, bent, almost moving, tangled constellations, coming together, winding through rubber, spelling Adidas. There was the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statues of Zeus at Olympia, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, Lighthouse of Alexandria, and Ecuador, and now this, whatever this was. What a print that thing must leave on the world.
“If I ever had a daughter, I might have named her Adidas,” he said, and it came down on him. He was flattened into the carpet, brown guts squished out at his sides. He was still super ugly, but nobody noticed. His carcass was pinched in a tissue and washed down a drain.
Edgar had watched the interview with Zaramama. He sat on his couch, feelers crossed, leaning towards the TV.
“Wow, maybe I do,” Zaramama said.
“Maybe I do,” Edgar repeated. “Maybe I do.”
Annie Woods is an MFA candidate in Fiction at Wichita State University. She was a recipient of the Stephen C. Barr Fellowship for Creative Writing, fiction editor of mojo literary journal in Fall 2017, and has a forthcoming publication in Hobart. Annie currently lives in Denton, Texas. She likes to wear lipstick and spin in circles.