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Rose Hesketh, 06 Sep '12

I’m opening the box today.
It's taken me three years to build up the courage to do it, brick by brick. I’d get so high, I’d feel I was nearly there, then a simple memory of you would bring it all crashing down, and I’d have to start all over again. Brick by brick.

But today I’ve got the wall high enough for my fear to cower behind. Today I'm ready for you to leave me once and for all. I can do this. I can do this.
Enough time has passed now, I think. You’ve been tormenting me for far too long and it has to end.

So I'm starting with the box.
It’s lived under my bed for far too long now. It needs to go, because I need the space. I can't let you stay here forever, always pulling me down towards you; always wanting you back with me.

I’ve decided….enough. It’s time.
I’m kneeling down on my knees and scrabbling around underneath the wood, searching for it. My fingers find it easily enough – they’re drawn to it just like I was drawn to you. You still haven’t lost your magnetism.

I've got it now. It's here, in my arms.

The box itself isn’t special. It was the only thing I had to hand that day. It's what’s inside that matters.
There’s so much sellotape around it, like rusting chains securing it shut. I used a whole roll, frantically wrapping it around and around, desperate to keep that box closed. I swore to myself I’d never open it again. But now I'm unwrapping the tape. I'm opening the box.

I take off the lid. Tiny specks of dust dance in freedom as I awaken them from their sleep.
The first thing I find is a necklace – a Christmas present from you. I loved it so much – I wouldn’t take it off for days and days, so happy you thought something so beautiful should be worn by something as plain as me.
Now when I look at it, I realise it's ugly. The diamond in the centre is just a piece of glass. The clasp is cheap and rusting. There’s nothing beautiful here, nothing special. I throw it to one side.

Next out the box is the diary we kept. You got it one day and gave it to me, saying we would write everything inside. There’s a letter from you in the front. I'm reading it now. Lies litter your words like spelling mistakes, marring the page.
“I love you. Don’t ever disappear.’ You wrote.
You had a sense of humour, too.
On every page that follows, more lies more lies more lies.
“You’ve always got me.”
“I will never hurt you.”
“I love you no matter what.”
STOP LYING STOP LYING, I scream at the past.
I've looked through the diary enough now. I put it down.

Now, a Christmas card. I toss it on the ground, not bothering to read the merriments inside. The happy drawing smirks up at me. I turn it over.
Looking through the box again, I find the paper you used to wrap a birthday present you gave me; the delicate pink bow still perfect even now. It crunches in the palm of my hand.

Oh, look at that! The first picture I’ve come across. I look terrible, as usual. But I'm not interested in me – it’s you. I'm looking at you looking at me. I can't decipher the thoughts in your eyes. Did you know then, that you stopped loving me? Was there a warning I should have seen back then? Maybe I’ll never know. I turn the picture into confetti, and watch as it flutters back inside.

Next from the box is a DVD I borrowed from you. It was your favourite, and I promised I would return it. You broke your promises first, though, so it doesn’t matter if I broke mine too. I open the case. I pull out the disc. SNAP! It cracks into two. I smile and place it back inside.

A ticket from the theatre. What a night that was. I still tell people about it, even now. I tell them how the dancers flew across the stage. I tell them how the words fell from their lips like
poetry. I don’t tell them you were there.

I find a bracelet scrunched up in the corner, brought back to me from a faraway land. It's broken, though by whom I'm not quite sure. Another piece of worthless junk. I add it to the pile.

There's a plastic bag from our favourite shop. It closed down one day, and we were so annoyed. Where else would we go on a Saturday afternoon?
The bag is decaying, falling to pieces as I hold it. Looking inside, I find a receipt.
Hot chocolate for you. Nothing for me. I paid.

Near the bottom of the box is a sheet of paper. Unfolding it, the memory assaults me. On the sheet is a list of all the places we were going. We sat one day in your room and thought it up. We planned every step of our life carefully, deliberating the details, when in truth; a blank sheet would have sufficed.

Three more items left to go. The album is next in line. I don’t want to open it – not because I'm scared of what I’ll find, but because I spent too long crying over them already and I’ve no time to spare for more.

Second to last, and waiting patiently, is a single earring. You bought me them for our anniversary. I can't remember what I bought you. These are still as beautiful as the day they were bought. I picked them out.
There’s only one because the other I stomped on many years ago, crushing it into my carpet.
But this one I won’t break. Instead, I hold it to my ear and close my eyes. The dangling rose sweeps my neck, like a finger trailing my shoulder. Sighing, I pull it away, look one last time and wrap it inside the bag, never to be seen again.

There's one more thing inside this box, and then it will be empty. I don’t want to see it, but I've come this far, and there's no point backing out now.

The last letter you sent me, still inside its envelope.

I pull out the paper from inside and begin to read.
You said you didn’t love me anymore. You didn’t give a reason.
You said that you were sorry. You weren’t sorry enough to say it right to me.
And you said that it was over. So why does it only now feel like it’s ending?

Okay, I tell myself. Now it’s time to stop.

I put the letter, the earring, the album, the list, the bag, the bracelet, the ticket, the DVD, the photo, the wrapping paper, the Christmas card, the diary and the necklace back inside the box. Stacking them, one by one.

I close the lid again. I pick it up. I carry it down stairs. I open my door. I walk outside. I open the bin. I say goodbye. I throw it in. I turn away.

And that’s it.

You’re gone.
I’m free.

Comments · 3

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  • Mary Beth W. said...

    Beautiful. I love how, at the end, everything truly feels finished. It feels like the character knows that it's over, and there is a feeling of finality about it. Well done.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Mairead O'Neill said...

    I must say, I smiled along with the protagonist when she snapped the DVD in half. Excellent stuff.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Audrey Semprun said...

    This was really good. I followed along, wishing that I had a box for all of my broken promises and dreams... and in a way, glad that I don't.

    • Posted 5 years ago