Box of Delights
I see it when I am cleaning the attic. A battered shoebox covered in fabric, sat on an elderly suitcase. A jolt runs up my spine, and I’m unsure whether it’s a good surprise, or a bad one.
I tear the lid off my memories and the sticking plaster off the wounds. The hair-clip favour from that party where the other girls told me I wasn’t welcome. The ribbon from the Christmas gift he gave me- what was it? Oh yes- ‘Floral Explosion’ body spray. There’s a pressed flower in here from that day in the park when I nearly asked him out. Ticket stubs from films I saw by myself, ‘running into’ the kids I had overheard planning their Saturday nights- “What a coincidence!” God, the Leaver’s Book- all those platitudes about the future. The box is full. I hadn’t realised how much I’d hung on to.
I replace the contents. Then I walk, box tucked under my arm, down the street to where the local tramps usually have a bonfire in an elderly metal rubbish bin. I buy them all a cup of tea, and empty the box into the flames. I don’t stay to watch, but the wind blows the smoke towards me as I leave, and I could swear I catch the scent of Floral Explosion amongst the ashes. I am 15 again, hanging on a gate talking to him and hoping to be kissed. Some of the ash gets in my eyes, stinging them, making them water. There’s no other reason for me to need to wipe them. No other reason at all.