Dangerous Toys. Dangerous Joys.
Published: November 23rd, 2007
By: Shelly Reuben

I used to play with mercury.

So did all of my brothers, sisters, and friends. We would crack the length of a thermometer against the sharp edge of a table and watch the silver globule fall to the floor and skitter this way and that. Then we poked at the droplet with the tips of our naked fingers, and if we caught it (it was as elusive as Tinkerbell flickering past Wendy’s bedroom window), we would jiggle it around in the palms of our hands.

Granted, there were only so many minutes we could devote to this activity before it became boring, but for long stretches of time, mercury was fun. Even though, somewhere along the line, it was drummed into our numb little skulls that mercury is an element, that its chemical symbol is derived from the Greek word hydrargyrum, which means liquid silver, and that it is poisonous.

Not that poison intimidated us while we were gleefully engaged in nudging the exquisite nodule as if it were a living thing it. Usually…always, in fact, our session with mercury ended when it disappeared in a crack between a tongue and a groove or escaped into the void between a baseboard and the edge of the kitchen floor.


The Evening Sun

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