There is complexity even in the least complex of things. The simpler things are, the more layers there are
to be taken away, exposing the true nature of what's inside. The simplicity and good will on the outside
melts away to show the more deranged nature of the subject. Only then can enlightenment be found; a
more frightening thing than we can imagine. And sometimes our imaginations do not lead us to
enlightenment, but take us away to dark places in the far corners of our minds. There is a borderline
between reality and fiction and it is very thin. Sometimes one can slip through it with relative ease...

The name of the thing was Itty Bitty Buddha, and it watched Mark Preston constantly from the high shelf.
Its eyes were half shut, its fat face stuck in a virtual laugh. Its lips were so pink Mark thought they were
coated with lipstick. The color was coral pink he decided after looking at Itty Bitty Buddha for a week. Its
white brows curved down past its half closed eyes, the brows a shade of white that remained him of
mayonnaise. Its nose was far bigger than it should have been. It's pair of wide nostrils stretched across
the face to meet the up swept bulge of its cheek. The bulge itself was pink like the Buddha's lips. Not as
pink but enough to bring a sufficient blush to its enlivened face. Its ears were also large and flopped
down as far as its chin.

It was holding a golden pot above its head as it laughed. It laughed all day and night, never stopping to
take a break. Its red robe was the color of an Airhead candy, left out to melt in the sun—melting until it
was nothing but shriveled, red goo. The robe was open, exposing its protruding belly. Its belly button
was only a tiny incision in the gigantic stomach of the Buddha. Its wrinkled robe billowed below the
thing's pudgy, white arms. Sometimes Mark wondered if it got tired. It must get tired holding that pot up
all day...and laughing. The thing knew how to laugh, that was for sure. Its coral pink lips were split,
revealing a symmetrical row of teeth. It had no neck, therefore, it could have no vocal cords. Yet, Mark
could hear it laughing sometimes. Yes, it was deep laugh. Because the Buddha knew something; a secret
he wasn't in on.

The pot had begun to stain its hands golden, like its wealth was running down, trying to channel itself
into the Buddha. Then the Buddha would channel it to Mark and he would finally learn the secret.

You could tell by the gleam in its eyes that it knew something. The gleam actually came from the light
filtering through Mark's window. The Buddha had taken it for his own, pulling it into his eyes, the creases
of his robes, and into that golden pot.

There was a red dot on his forehead, just below the wavelike wrinkles, but above its crescent eyebrows.
Mark liked to focus on this dot. Sometimes, he thought it looked like the Buddha had been shot. As if it
were laughing through the pain as its golden riches streamed onto its pale palms.

The whole Buddha was no more than two inches tall; the stand and all. The stand was about three
centimeters, the same golden color as the Buddha's pot. Its little feet were on the edge as it held the pot
up in triumph. It’s won, thought Mark. It’s won and it knows it...

He got so tired of looking at it, frozen in a perpetual look of glowing success, that he turned it around.
He didn't know if this was bad luck or not, but he didn't care. The Buddha now faced away from him, the
golden pot still the main focus. The Buddha didn't look happy anymore. Instead of smiling and laughing,
the thing looked like it was in agony. It benched the pot above its head, its face unseen to him. Its robes
still billowed below the arms. He was sure if he squeezed it, the Buddha would melt in his hand just like
softened candy. The swell of its back was a testament to the hard work it performed. Though, even
facing the wall, Mark was sure it went on laughing. Laughed in secret and without his permission.
Laughed because it had something he didn't have. It possessed a secret he would never know. He
wanted to know it so badly; enough that his stomach was burned by an acidic feeling. The Buddha had
been meant to bring him happiness and luck. It had failed. It only brought him anger that rose up like a
steady flame.

He was sure it was dying. It couldn't hold that pot up much longer. Surely, it was not laughing as it faced
the wall. He couldn't be positive. Hour by hour, his curiosity grew. It was like the acidic feeling scouring
the lining of his stomach...it burned and burned.

Turn around, he thought. I dare you to turn around...

But the Buddha would not. It faced the wall, steadfast in benching its well of riches.

Then, one day, he had to turn the Buddha around. He turned it slowly, like someone working a rusted
tap. He saw its pudgy arms first, and a side view of its golden pot. He saw the protrusion of its belly and
its floppy ears and puffed out cheeks. As he turned it more, he began to see the smile. The thing was
still laughing.

How, thought Mark, How could he?

The flame of anger continued to grow. Itty Bitty Buddha had won...Mark had lost...

There was no winning with Itty Bitty Buddha, Mark realized. There was only losing. You couldn't beat him
at his game, so why even try? He would keep his riches and they would stain his hands golden. He
wouldn't share with you. He'd just keep on holding that golden pot above his head, out of your reach.

Mark laughed to himself, shaken with a spreading feeling of madness. It was
insanity, insanity! Yet, it was
not.

Then, the Itty Bitty Buddha laughed. Mark was sure it did. It was a deep laugh from down in the

Buddha's belly. Mark wanted to strangle it. The Buddha stood there staring at him, seeming to say:
Why
do you hate me, Mark?
As it laughed.

He didn't know why. He only knew that he wanted it gone. It would laugh no more, nor would it pose any
questions to him.

Don't hate me, Mark. Just because I have what you don't...

But I do! I do hate you!
He wanted to scream.

He heard it laugh again; the same booming sound.

Mark picked it off the shelf, carrying it across the room. He needed to get rid of it. How,
how, how! His
brain screamed, the neurons all firing at once.
How do you beat him when he just goes on laughing?

His brain fired off a response. Throw him out the window—that's what you do!

He moved there now, the Buddha held far in front of him like sharp knife. His thumb pushed convulsively
at the golden pot. Maybe he could break it away from the Buddha's palms.

It did not work. The Buddha held tight. The Buddha was strong...it wasn't going to lose easily.

Mark slid open the door to the balcony of his apartment. He stood far up with the Buddha, even with the
glowing lights of the city. He moved towards the edge of the balcony, leaning forward. The Buddha was
grasped tightly in his sweating hand.

“I'm going to get rid of you,” he said softly. He leaned forward more, looking at the cars passing below.

“See those cars down there? Well, that's where you're going?”

His grip began to loosen on the Buddha as he bent forward even further. “You'll hit the pavement before
you know it! Then you won't be laughing anymore!”

Mark's feet were barely touching the ground. He bent over the railing with the Buddha in his hand,
bringing it closer to his face. “I promise it won't be painful,” he said.

Then his feet weren't touching the ground at all anymore. He was leaning over the balcony on his
stomach only, feet swaying slightly. A cold night breeze stirred his hair. His body rocked and wriggled,
and he realized he was falling.

Down, down, they went, the Buddha slipping from his grasp. The pavement was coming closer; the cars
speeding by. All through the fall, Itty Bitty Buddha laughed. He laughed as Mark finally plummeted to the
ground. In Mark's pocket was the winning lottery ticket, and that evening his numbers were called.

The Buddha plunged into a potted plant flanking the outside of the apartment’s ground floor. He had his
riches and he would carry them forever. His face glowed with the golden light of secrets untold; his hands
with the gleam of riches.

The Buddha had won.
Itty Bitty Buddha

By: Brianne Kaufman