The Vanishing Button

📅 March 8, 2020

A button had been missing from Annabelle’s favorite jeans for over two weeks. It was no big deal…really. She always wore her shirt on the outside. But she missed wearing her favorite jeans and in spite of being terribly busy, determined to sew on the button today.

She retrieved her sewing basket, selected a needle and a length of thread, and then promptly dropped the button on the kitchen floor, watching helplessly as it rolled under the stove.

Exasperated, she explored several options in rapid-fire order.

1. [blaming it all on a great cosmic conspiracy] “Why do things like this always happen to me? I am doing the best I can and what happens? The button rolls under the stove. Why can’t I ever get a break?”
2. [remembering fifteen years ago when the same thing happened] “Here we go again just like when . . .[sniffling—phoning friend] Hi . . . you’ll never believe what happened . . . you know that button I needed to sew on . . . well . . . it rolled under the stove. I try to do the best I can, but nothing ever works out for me.”
3. [resigning to fate] “I don’t really need that button.”
4. [exploring less difficult option]”Maybe I could take a button from the back pocket and sew that one on.”
5. [deciding not to despair] “How can I get that button? Surely there’s a way.”

She knelt down to peer under the stove. Two problems immediately presented themselves: 1) it was too dark under there to see anything and 2) it was awfully dusty. Deciding to stab at the button blindly, she retrieved her broom and used the handle to make a swipe at the floor. All she gleaned was three dog treats and a Lego.

She needed a coat hanger...and a flashlight. She selected a wire hanger from her closet, untwisted the top, straightened the wire and returned to the kitchen. She lay flat on the floor and aimed the flashlight. There it was—the errant button. She took her coat hanger and gently slid it toward the button. One, two, three tries and the button sailed from under the stove and into the light of day. She picked it up, blew off the dust and soon affixed it firmly to her pants.

How often do we go through Annabelle’s thought process? How many times has something silly and non-essential like a button rolling under the stove caused us to erupt into anger, because we were already upset about something else?

How many times has this sort of incident caused us to conclude ‘nothing ever works out,’ resulting in our giving up, or coming up with an alternate plan to bypass a problem altogether?

A ‘vanishing button’ can so easily become a symbol for “everything that’s gone wrong.”  

Today: skip Steps 1-4 and go directly to Step 5. You’re up to the task. Whatever the “button” in your life is.


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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.


Semi-Finalist - 2021 Royal Palm Literary Award Competition - Florida Writer's Association