12 Days of Significance (28)

By: Kate Bernheimer
December 28, 2017

One in a 2017–2018 series of posts reprinting stories originally written — by 12 HILOBROW contributors and friends — for Josh Glenn and Rob Walker’s 2009–2010 anthropological-literary experiment SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS. See below for more info about this ongoing project.




A long time ago, I was very poor and often traded my body for cigarettes, Chelada, or food (in order of preference). I had two children — both daughters — and together we lived in a motel on the coast. It was a knotty-pine kitchenette cabin, and came furnished with a teapot, a few chipped flowered plates, some utensils, and bedding. The cabin overlooked a paved parking lot and beyond it, the beach. If a man came to visit, I sent my youngest girl out to find driftwood and starfish and shells. (Her sister was in kindergarten, so always gone in the morning.) There was no market for these trinkets among tourists; but they were precious to my little girls, truly their only possessions. We washed them and kept them along the edge of the porch rail and inside, on the white windowsills, which otherwise were very empty, apart from a pink horse my youngest had found in the woods. That pink horse! How she loved it. Once when she had gone a very long way to gather her treasures — all the way under a natural tunnel inside the cliffs, which led to a narrow beach that would trap you and kill you if you were stuck there during high tide — an old woman with pink hair approached her and sang her a song. My daughter told me about this old woman, but I didn’t believe her. Later that week, my girl brought home a sea urchin, closed. She said that when the sea urchin opened, the old woman would return and that she had promised then to bring us good luck. I got an empty jar from the cupboard — it had once been full of beach plum jelly but had long been gathering dust. We walked down to the edge of the ocean and filled it with water. Back in the cabin, we placed the closed sea urchin carefully into the water, where it sank and stayed closed. The next morning my littlest girl didn’t wake up and the sea urchin had bloomed. It was on her grave that my other daughter placed the pink horse. Then she too was taken — by the high tide — the very same week. She’d gone into the magic tunnel. Now I do nothing but drink Chelada all day, haunted by pink. Pink urchins, pink cigarettes. Pink horse, pink horse, pink horse on the grave — if ever the pink horse flies into the sky, your daughters will come back to life. The pink-haired old woman sang that to me once when I passed out in the sand. For now, there you stand in the dark of the wood — beautiful, all-powerful, and silent. Pink horse, you are everything, and everything is everlasting in you.


SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS at HILOBROW: PROJECT:OBJECT homepage | PROJECT:OBJECT newsletter | PROJECT:OBJECT objects (Threadless shop — all profits donated to the ACLU) | POLITICAL OBJECTS series (1Q2017) | TALISMANIC OBJECTS series (2Q2017) | ILLICIT OBJECTS series (3Q2017) | LOST OBJECTS vol. 1 series (4Q2017) | FLAIR series (2Q2018) | FOSSIL series (4Q2018). 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE . ALSO SEE: SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS website | SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS collection, ed. Rob Walker and Josh Glenn (Fantagraphics, 2012) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY, ed. Josh Glenn (Princeton Architectural Press, 2007) | TAKING THINGS SERIOUSLY excerpts.

CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators