Sunday, October 18, 2009
Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings
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"Do you need to keep this?" The exasperation in her voice was obvious as she held up a metal toy truck. Only one wheel remained and most of the red paint had been replaced with rust. Phil glanced over and sighed.
"No." The word was dragged out—a mournful surrender.
"Look," she began, "you can't keep everything. Our old junk is starting to take over the house. We need to purge." Jennifer tossed the truck into a nearby box designated as garbage.
Marrying a fellow pack rat had finally taken its toll. The basement had begun to look like a small-town flea market that sold only tattered out-of-date clothing, broken toys and worn furniture. Jennifer had already filled several boxes with her own memories. Dolls, stuffed animals; even her high school cheerleader uniform. Phil had argued the merits of keeping the uniform but—rolling her eyes—Jennifer had added it to the trash pile.
And now they purged Phil's mementos. Half-finished car models, armless action figures, moth-eaten Varsity sweatshirts. Was that a KISS poster?
Jennifer pulled a tackle box from a bookshelf, brushed the dust off. She wondered when Phil had last gone fishing. Before Jennifer could open the box, Phil snatched it away from her.
"I'm keeping this." His tone made it clear that this was not negotiable. Intrigued, Jennifer held her hands out.
"What's in the box, Phil?" She wiggled her fingers in a "hand it over" motion. Phil shook his head.
"This is my personal stuff." He held up a hand, palm facing his wife. "You can't have this."
Jennifer was only more intrigued. What was in the box that he needed to keep? What could possibly be so important? She raised her eyebrows and thrust her hands out.
"Hand it over."
Phil closed his eyes and sighed; knew it was fruitless to argue. Shaking his head, he reluctantly placed the box in her hands. Lifting the lid, she was surprised to find the metal box held nothing but paper. Dozens of squares, worn from repeated folding; cards with faded graphics. Frowning, she pulled a piece of paper from the stash and carefully unfolded it.
Jennifer's eyes filled with tears as she recognized her own handwriting. A letter written some 20 years earlier professed her undying teenage love. She opened cards and unfolded other letters—all written so many years ago and long-forgotten by her.
She looked over at her husband, dazed. Phil shrugged, clearly embarrassed.
"I kept every letter and card you've ever given me." It was said as though he challenged her to laugh at him. Instead, Jennifer wrapped her arms around his waist, overwhelmed by the surge of emotion that had filled her. "It's no big deal," he muttered, but pulled her close to him.
Jennifer lifted her head and met Phil's gaze. The corner of her lip turned up as she gave him a knowing look. "We'll keep the cheerleader outfit."