Things Worth Keeping

She opened the cabinet door and there it was, just where he had left it. “Shit!” the word escaped before she could stop it. She stared at it for awhile trying to remember why she hadn’t thrown it away. She had almost done it that night when she had come home with droplets of ink running down her face. But, she hadn’t. The thought of parting with the only thing that had belonged to him seemed impossible then.

They had met on a cold night, under unusual circumstances. There was a hurricane on the forecast. A category 3 and the whole town had gone into a panic. After the last store had run out of milk, she had decided to head home empty handed and that’s when the cart bumped into her.

“Shit, howdy” he blurted out, “I was… umm distracted.”

She looked up at him smiling at her.

“It’s okay,” she smiled back. He was pushing a cart with just a few items- a tub of ice-cream, a bottle of red and a packet of chewing tobacco.

“Everything else is gone,” he said as if reading her mind. “I figured I can live on these. And there isn’t any milk anywhere,” he rolled his eyes, which made her laugh again.

“Excuse me,” he had come calling after her in the parking lot. “I hope this doesn’t freak you out. But, would you like to have a cup of coffee with me? I’m not a creepy guy, I promise you.” She was definitely startled, but there was something earnest about his request.

“I’ll be the judge of that.” she said trying to keep it cool. What’s the harm in a cup of coffee?

“What’s your name?”

And that was how it had all begun… many months ago in a public parking lot.

“I got you these vitamins. I think you need to start taking them.” He mentioned casually as he stirred the eggs for breakfast one weekend. They had been dating for a few months now and it was getting serious. His sincerity was hard to miss and she had adored him for it. When her favorite flowers appeared at her desk randomly each month, she was genuinely touched by his thoughtfulness. “You deserve it.,” he had dismissed her while kissing her forehead. “You’re my girl.”

But, there were other clues. “What the fuck took you so long?” he fumed at her in public when she was late for the matinee. When she watched him storm out the grocery store when they couldn’t decide on what to make for dinner, she knew there was an expiration date on their liaison.

“You have an anger problem,” she had told him and he had nodded in agreement. That was progress, she had told herself. He was good on paper. He was all that your mother wanted for you and your father warned you of. Yet, she loved him. And, maybe he loved her too, but it didn’t matter anyway.

Why does the heart choose to remember only the good times and not the bad? It does you a disservice, she thought to herself, your mind, cleverly placing bricks around all that is painful.

“I’m not the answer to your question,” he had told her one night. “You are a dreamer.” There was sadness in his voice. “But, I love you” he whispered into her ear in the dark of the night.

“I know you do,” she whispered back.

She closed the cabinet door. “Why are you still here?” she breathed into the thin air. Why didn’t he take it back?

The dull pain started in a point near her heart as the memory of that night came into focus.

She had walked away from him not knowing if he would follow, only steadfast in the conviction that this had gone too far. He was not meant for her in this shape and form.

“Your clay has to be remolded,” she cried out.

“Another one of your crazy talk,” he mocked.

She remembered the poem he had read her.

You and I
Have so much love,
That it burns like a fire

The words tugged at her heart. Damn words.

Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold again a figure of you,
And a figure of me.
He had neatly copied the poem on paper.

I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.

Why do we play nice with the past by allowing it to chisel away our memories like a sculptor trying to create something beautiful out of stone?

How easily we forget.

“You are boring.”

The hurt was real.

“You are weak.”

The venom was real.

“You have so much potential.”

The love was real.

“Stand for something.”

Damn words. Do this. Do that. Be this. Don’t be that. Eveything was real.

She opened the cabinet again and reached for it. The object felt cold in her hands.

All the things that people leave behind; do they yearn to be reunited with their owners?

Or are they dying slow deaths longing for the original hands that found them?

Do they make new homes for themselves inside unwanted cabinets claiming the shelves for comfortable beds or do they toss and turn in agony when the lights are turned off?

Perhaps they assume new identities as story tellers and scribes from another world, preserving a memory,

of a time when your soul was wiser than your person, and your mind stronger than your heart’s deepest desire?

She suddenly knew what she was going to do.

Nothing seemed impossible as she held his memory in his hand.

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