Me in a box.(Short fiction)
I opened the storage door and stood looking in. The items I would go through and decide what to keep and unpack to move to my new home…the new apartment that I was moving into this weekend with my fiancee, the man I would marry next weekend. I sighed, realizing that not at all had I put any thought to what this task would take…would actually mean. I sorted furniture that would and wouldn’t work…donation pile. New place pile. I went through the things that would be , now, the life that I was officially leaving behind, my twenty-two years of…ME. In a box. As I pulled out the box that held my journals. My deepest thoughts of teen years and the pages that had gotten me through college. Therapy. I sat and read through the pages , often tear stained as I would write and my parents would fight. As I read my words upon pages the memories came alive for me, the sounds of their voices rising. Keeping my siblings calm and from crying. Sometimes having to run out to the neighbors to call the police when…we just got that scared. The times when our mother didn’t come home …and the day that she said goodbye and walked out the door. This hot day I finished clearing out the storage and moved everything to their new homes .Some to the donation center, some to trash and some to the new apartment.
Days later I was home from work , showered and changed from my waitress uniform. Having the evening alone since C was working the night shift at his job. I made myself a cup of hot tea and started thumbing through some of the stacked boxes that I had brought, and not yet un-packed, from storage . Coming across the box of journals again I pulled one out , curled my legs underneath me on the couch and started my walk down memory lane…a lane I wasn’t sure I wanted to walk but one which I felt I was…saying goodbye to. I thought that perhaps I had walked so very far from that location that my life was a whole other person and I was reading a book of someone else’s story. And yet…the strong emotions I had felt then…welled up in me now. I opened the journal I’d picked up which inside the pages I had titled ” The year my mother left me” and began to read words that I wasn’t sure at all I wanted to read but like a car accident being passed on the freeway I couldn’t pull my eye’s away.
” Dear mom….I hate you. Simple as that. I hate you because you left and I hate you because I don’t feel that you don’t love us. I hate you because I know you love us and you still left us. Mom…you left me. Here. Without you. Mom. I hate you.
Dear mom, I lay awake at night imagining you coming home…and what I would say when you did. Each time I imagine something different. My anger…my sadness…my hurt. My utter betrayal that I feel. Some times I imagine slamming the door in your face and shutting you out of my life forever…but sometimes I imagine your arms around me , crying as you tell me how sorry you are and how you will never ever leave me again.
Dear mom…I forgot how you smell today. I hate you more. I hate you so much. I hate you.
Dear mom…your baby, my sister , turned one year old today. You missed it.
Dear mom , I learned a new meaning of the word I used to hear dad call you, Cunt. I learned that you aren’t worthy of the word because it is attached to Goddesses and you are not a Goddess. You are nothing. Nothing. Nothing. ”
I closed the journal after reading entry upon entry of short letters to my mother that…I never told her, sent her or gave her. I showered again and curled up in my warm bed and when my fiancee got home and curled up against me and held me I wept, he just held. And again I was the lost and sad teenager. She still managed these many years when I thought that I was past that, to crumble me.
Years later and almost thirty and I was walking down the aisle to my second husband. Weirdly what was on my mind was the week prior unpacking another storage unit as I had done many years before. And I saw that old box of journals. I didn’t read them this time…my focus was on the box of all the love letters , cards and notes and trinkets from HIM. I had a note or letter every day since our first date. I couldn’t help it..I opened the box. I didn’t know if I should throw it away or keep it…moving on into a new marriage…I…didn’t….know.
I spent an entire afternoon reading through every note and letter and felt so incredibly strong the love that they were written in I felt afterward as if I had cheated on my soon to be new husband after an afternoon basking in the love of my first.
I had hidden the box , taped up, in the attic of my new home and put it out of my mind…until now…as I walked toward my second chance at hopes dreams and promises . The box was marked PAST and I had struggled with throwing it out or keeping it. Was it right to keep? It was two years of my life…two years. As I had struggled with those journals I now had struggled with this box of letters , I couldn’t bring myself to throw out my history. My ME.
Divorce number two and I packed up the last framed picture and sealed the box….and I added the box next to the box of journals and the box of HIM and I wondered if these boxes of my past were something that I should keep or something that I should …let go. Were they holding me back?
Here I was in my thirties and these boxes held my childhood dolls and artwork pictures, my teenage journals and my first love, my life of growing up. My second marriage which had been to my best friend but had still failed…the pictures of us smiling and holding hands were a far cry from where we stood in each others lives now. The tears and pain that stood between us. But those pictures showed a true and happy time and were five years of my life…my love , my best friend and a time when I lived a life so different from today. But all of these boxes are what made me what I am today. I can see how they have shaped me, how far I have come. How different I am , how much stronger and how much I came from girl to woman through the life that these boxes held. I lugged these boxes from storage to storage or apartment or house as I moved over the years. In the pictures that these boxes held was a young blond smiling child to a surfer young twenties to a graying writer of her thirties. In the words written where questions of the universe I held from age three…all of my WHY’S? and often through the lines and years…the eventually the answers, often not seen at the time. My life. In a box. I sighed on this hot July day , sweaty and tired from this last move, and pulled the big rolling door down between me and my past.
Should I just throw all of it away? Let it go? I wondered as I walked away.
I was driving down I45 on the way to work one rainy morning when I got a phone call from my storage unit, odd for them to call so I answered my cellphone.
They say a fire burned through and…all…my things…they are gone. The boxes. The journals. HIS letters. The pictures of my second chance. My past. All of it…gone. Even farther than that…the only pictures I had of my grandparents…of my childhood. All of it. burned down and gone. I cried. I yelled and I continued driving in the rain which now came down in torrents and I banged my hand on the steering wheel crying for my loss. I felt I had lost my memories. And then…funny thing…I pictured my grandmothers face and heard her sweet gravely voice singing to me softly and I remembered how I made it through my teenage years and how much I felt loved reading HIS letters each day that I got them and how handsome a couple number two chance and I made but I also felt…relief. I didn’t have to one day make the choice of ” should I keep this or let it go” again. I felt that the answer to ” is this holding me back?” answered …with a sigh of relief. The answer to my question of these boxes was answered for me. I had cried in mourning but now…I felt free as there was no box that contained ME. I now lived outside the box.