Compartmental

There are monsters inside some of these boxes.

Some of them were gifts from my parents. Some of them I got elsewhere, from other people, during my childhood. A few, though not as many, found me as an adult.

I picture this as a room full of boxes, and that is probably telling. I could see it as a house full of airy rooms, windows open, full of light, artifacts of my past lying around on tables and sideboards. Or a party full of friendly faces, all ready to tell their stories. A path through a wood and fields, with things found along the way.

But no. When I come here… when I visualise my mind, with all the memories and stray thoughts and old feelings and disembodied voices, this is what I see. A dark, hemmed in room, lined with shelves, full of boxes.

The boxes differ in size. They all have labels on them, but none have been written on. They could contain anything.

But I know that some of them have monsters in.

 

I’m up here most nights, after everybody else has gone to bed. It’s my duty to sort through this stuff, work out what it all is, and make use of the bits that are important. Put the rest out to recycle.

People have sometimes told me that I’m a little… cut off. A bit flat. Not that connected. Ex-girlfriends have complained that I am cold, and in some ways they didn’t know the half of it, but in others… well, I think I’ve still got a lot to give.

And Jane does too. She sees whole worlds in me. A whole future. Enough to let me marry her, and enough to have a child with me.

But I can tell, now that the boy is here. I can tell that she’s a little surprised, when she sees us playing. I think she half expected him to change me, to bring me more in step with everything else. And yet, I remain the same.

 

At least I think that’s what she’s thinking. But clearly, I’m not the best judge. Maybe I’m projecting all of this.

Maybe I’m fine with Joe. Maybe I’m a great dad. Sometimes I feel like I might be a great dad. But I wouldn’t know what that actually feels like. How would I know?

 

So I’m up here most nights, because I think it’s my duty. Clearly I boxed all of this stuff up for a reason, but maybe it was just to keep it safe from harm? Why would I assume that I put it there to hide from it?

I lie in bed next to Jane, and close my eyes, and start opening boxes. Sorting through them. She hasn’t asked me to, but I’m doing it for her and Joe regardless, like it’s an attic full of old records and lives, and it’s long past time to clear it.

I haven’t found any monsters yet, but I know they’re in there.

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Nicolas Papaconstantinou
Nicolas Papaconstantinou is an enthusiastic amateur creative type, and the chap behind Elephant Words. Be nice to him. He growed up kinda wrong.

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