Originally uploaded by tomusan.
The boxes piled up in the living room were filled with books, old magazines, cancelled checks and kick knacks. No matter how hard I tried I still couldn’t throw anything away.
I had read all of the books- a mix of paperback true crime stories, murder mysteries and old college texts. God knows how out of date they were, written and forced upon us by some long dead prof. But still, I packed them up. The boxes were the only things left in the house. All the furniture was gone, either given away or sold at the garage sale. What a relief to get rid of it; a large weight lifted off my shoulders.
I always thought a place felt larger when empty, as though crowded when filled up. But looking around, I was struck by a feeling of smallness. How did all of this stuff fit in such a tiny space? It felt like a theatre stage, struck after the final performance, the sets raised and all of the props carted off to be used again, in different combinations for a whole different story.
I peered into an open box. It was filled with the flotsam and jetsam of my life, little bits and pieces that defy any logical packing scheme, piled together to be sorted out at some later date.
There were shadows on the wall; actually the faint outlines of pictures that had hung there, a ghostly parody of my previous life. The place had seemed so clean, but I can see now that the dirt was just well hidden.
“Is it for rent?” she asked. I turned to see her standing at the open door. She was young, waiflike, and barely bigger than the two toddlers that stood shyly behind her. They were clean and their outfits were brightly colored, a sharp contrast to the drabness I felt.
“Do you have a husband?” I asked.
“He’s at work,” she replied. “He’s steadily employed. I’ve got references.”
“Yes, I’m sure,” I said as I moved past her, carrying the last of the boxes out.
“Can we look around?”
“Please do,” I replied. She stood just inside the door, watching me move back and forth.
“Our current place is too small,” she called out to me, “what with the kids and all.”
I didn’t have that problem. I rattled around this place sitting in one room or the next, trying to fill the space alone. I could hear the children in the backyard, laughing and running circles on the lawn. In their minds, they already owned the yard.
The last of the boxes were in the truck and I took another look around.
“I like it,” she said. “Do I need to fill out an application?”
I looked at her, drinking in her youth and potential.
“Here”, I said, handing her the keys. “It’s yours”.
I walked out the door to the truck, never looking back. She was standing on the porch, getting smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror as I drove off.