Sitting alone proved to be a lot harder than I thought. Seeking clarity I went to the only place I knew was quiet.
Walking up to the door I had my second thoughts. I mean, my mission was to pull her out of here. What message would it convey if now I was coming up to join her?
Already standing at the door I let out a deep sigh and faced the fact that I had no other options. I was lost and alone. Taking on this promise to the girl would have to wait till I could make sense of all this myself.
I knew she would not understand but right now I was the one in need of help.
Cruel as it may sound, I did not really care if she needed me or not today.
I needed to take care of me right now.
Once I accepted my choice I bowed my head and then turned the knob.
As the door slowly creaked open I prepared myself for the emptiness of space that I knew waited for me. The attic was a hard place to be. So empty and dark.
Normally I dreaded entering it but today I strangely looked forward to spending time in a place with nothing really good to look at.
Less clutter means more time to focus on the things in mind.
As I fully opened the door I could hardly believe my eyes when before me I found total madness.
Everyplace I looked I saw boxes, crates and trunks open and tipped over.
Photos and slips of paper lined the floor everyplace I looked.
And amongst it all that was the girl, racing around sorting and dumping box after box.
I stood there for a long time before I stepped forward. Mainly because I was in such shock.
I expected to find her in the corner crying and avoiding the world. Not up and making a mess.
Plus after only seeing a trunk and two boxes in the corner before I could not help but wonder where all the other boxes came from.
This was complete madness!
I could have walked out but out of curiosity I stepped forward to take a closer look.
Each box crate or trunk had a name on it. Some boxes looked over used and ready to give way. Some looked as though they had never been open.
The nicer crates also had names on them but they too had looks of being old, half empty and under used.
The trunks were beautiful works of art. Hand carved with name plates and gold latches.
I was glad to see two of the nicer trunks had my kids names on them.
As my eyes scanned the room I stepped forward to the first box tipped over on the ground and started to lift one flap to read the name. It was one of the people I was really struggling with in my head. I pursed my lips and as I reached for the pile of photos that had dumped out of the box.
That is when the girl noticed my presence.
She stopped what she was doing and walked over to crouch down beside me. Looking up at me I could see the frantic and worried look on her face. Her chest heaved from almost being out of breath and now waited to see what I was going to do or say.
As I started to pick up the pile she shook her head really hard in protest.
I was worried this would happen. As I said, I was in no condition to take care of her right now.
Refusing to put the pictures down the girl Reached out to take the pile from my hand. With every bit of empathy I could muster I placed my free hand on hers and gave her a smile to indicate it was ok.
She tried to return the smile as she lowered herself to her knees. I was surprised she did not put up more of a fight but glad just the same.
I took a deep breath and started to pan through the photos and notes.
At first, none of them made sense. Just pictures of rooms, items and faces of that person in mid speak. The notes and slips of paper had short quotes and words.
Some papers appeared to be fresh and new. Some weather worn and old. The photos had similar looks.
You could tell that many of them had been looked at over and over.
I look up at the girl briefly with this idea in my head. I could almost hear her confirm this was the case. Uncomfortable and not sure what to say, I go back to flipping through the pile in my hand.
The further I investigated the more the photos and notes started to make more sense.
I’ve seen this all before. I remember that time with them at my house. And the note that has the word “texting” on it, I get that too.
That is when I realized that each box contained the memories of each person it was assigned. Each photo was a snap shot of a time with them. Each note was something they said that I had carried in my memory since it left their lips.
As I continued to panned through the pictures and notes my heart began to sink.
With each picture and note I began to realize that this person had been a major source of pain for me.
…out of all those memories of that person, I cannot find even one that stands for anything good.
Snap shots of happy times that I know led to nothing but lies.
The slips of paper held empty promises and words that I kept because I thought they were being sincere.
Truth is, they were all just lies to get something out of me.
Not a single picture in focus. Not a single note with a full statement.
How could this be? Such waisted space!
At that point, I too fell to the ground and the tears stared to roll down my face.
I started racing through each photo and note looking for just one time that this person was real with me.
Just one time that they were a true friend to me.
Just one time that this person, who I said just the other day I started to trust was worth anything to me at all.
Just one note or picture that stood as a symbol of something.
reaching a breaking point I finally came to one note and lost it.
All it said was “I’m not like that. I would never do that to you….”
The hurt turned into a dark anger inside me and my mind went blank.
I stood up and as I did I picked up the box and threw it across the room with a loud scream.
It felt good so I went on to the next one.
The name on it also someone I recently had in question.
I picked up that box too and started to rip through it.
Not a single note or photo held a drop of concern for me or my welfare. In fact, every photo and note clearly showed that all I was to them was a fool who did their evil bidding.
Throwing that box to the side I picked up yet another box and after only seconds ended up throwing it hard against the wall. As it hit I could hear other boxes falling and dumping.
The whole time, the girl standing next to me with a shocked look on her face.
I never wanted to show her this side of me but I was mad.
I was hurt.
I was sad.
My heart was being ripped out of my chest with the lies I had told myself about all those people.
My life was nothing but a lie.
Box after box, the same thing.. Just empty promises.
Emptiness filled with lies I had told myself to justify each and every one.
Finally as I picked up one more box, ready to toss it out the only window in the room the girl reached over and wrapped her arms around me.
Shaking her head no and softly whispering those words as she did.
Feeling her little frail arms wrapped so tight and her body shake next to mine brought me to my senses.
But she had never done this before.
The heart ach was now only doubled by the idea that I had just acted this way in front of her.
None of this made sense and now I felt like I let her down to boot.
Confused and weak I dropped the box to the side and fell to the ground.
As I did I began to sob with my head in my hands.
Ashamed of my actions I just kept saying sorry over and over.
She held me for a couple of seconds before she finally pulled my hands away from my face.
I was eye to eye with her.
There she was and for the first time I saw a love and care in her that I had never seen.
gently she brushed my hair from my face and with her wrist wiped away the tears from my cheeks.
Then she just sat there and waited while I calmed down.
Once I had she stood up and pulled on my arm to do the same. Then she walked me over to the first box I had tossed and picked it up.
She then placed it on top of a small table and dumped out the contents.
Just the view of those pictures started to make my blood boil so I began to walk away.
She leaned over and stopped me.
This time her look changed to one of determination.
There we stood face to face on either side of the table. I started to open my mouth in protest and she quickly put her finger to her lips in a shhhh motion.
I did as she asked.
Then she pointed slowly down to the table with the same finger to indicate to watch what she was about to do.
I nodded slowly to let her know I was at full attention.
She leaned down and picked up two boxes. The one was the old now empty one she had just dumped. The other was much smaller and brand new.
She placed them down on the table and then started to sort through each and every picture and note. As she went Some went into a pile on the right. Some on the left.
The left pile was much larger than the one on the right.
As she went I could tell the pile on the left was memories of either insignificant, pain or just straight out lie.
The ones on the right hand happier memories and some very big ones that even I could never forget.
After picking up the last slip of paper and placing it in the left pile she then looked up at me.
“We can take all this and put it back into one box or we can start a new one with only the memories we need to keep.”
I had never heard her voice so clear. I was stunned and confused at the same time.
My feelings must have shown on my face so she rephrased it but this time with more definition.
“This pile here is nothing but clutter. It’s all built up memories in our head because they gave us nothing of substance to hold on to. We created a person that does not really exist. So let’s get rid of that person, keep what we do know of them in a smaller box and then move on with life.”
She reached down and picked up one photo of a hair clasp sitting in a hall way in front of a black rose.
I knew just what it meant. My heart hurt so bad to look at it.
“This is not how we should be treated and you know it. If they were who they said they were, this pic should never have existed. They are lucky to even have a place with us as it is.”
My lips started to quiver but I knew she was right. I looked back and forth at both piles before me. I took the photo from her hand and looked at it long and hard.
This is not how we should be treated.
I made this person out to be something good when all I was to them was a joke.
I placed that picture in my shirt pocket and then made one of the hardest choices I have made yet.
I grabbed the old empty box and with one arm swiped all the pictures and notes into one box.
The girl looked at me with anger and as she reached out in protest I stopped her by placing one finger on my lips to say shhhh.
I then walked over to the garbage can in the corner and dropped the whole box in.
I then turned to the wall and took a tac and placed the one picture on it.
As I did I said to her “Its time to move on. We have a lot of cleaning to do.”
With that, I pinned my hair up and rolled up my sleeves.
I placed my hand briefly on her shoulder and gave it a loving squeeze.
The attic was trashed and it was going to take some time to make sense of the mess.
Figuring out who I wanted to keep in my life and who was never really in it was going to be a painful task.
That picture on the wall was to serve as a reminder that not everyone deserves space deep in your mind and heart.
Even the girl knew that.
Just wish I had listened to her long ago.
I was so worried about helping her that I never thought to seek her own good advice.
Silence has proven to be more helpful than I thought.
Now as I clean I just wonder when I stopped saving her and she started to save me.
I look up from a box to see her smile at me while she pushes the broom.
As we do this song plays in the background.
There is a lot of work to be done.
Many more tears to be had.
But in the end, everything is going to be alright.