How he came to be in possession of the box she never knew. She had felt so giddy when they had first moved in together, so helplessly in love that it was easy to overlook all of his flaws; his troubled past, the way he always tied his shoelaces too tight, his putting the milk in the door of the refrigerator instead of the top shelf where she preferred it. They had found a little place together, a fifth floor walk-up. A month had passed and still she got butterflies as she saw all of her familiar belongings mingling with his, exciting and new. He had brought his box and now it was their box. She never asked where it came from. She didn’t think he wanted her to. She didn’t think she wanted to either. It had been fun at first. Just experimenting. They would put a half eaten apple inside, close the lid, and eat the other half a week later. Juice running down their chins. They had bought a kitten. It was because they wanted one, she had reasoned. They were ready. It had nothing to do with the box. But of course they had to try it. It broke her heart the first time they closed the lid on her, all big pathetic eyes and soft fur. She thought about her a lot during the long car ride, but not at all on the beach. Not for twelve days. It was only when she hauled her sand-filled suitcase onto their bed that she remembered. Ran to the box and threw open the lid, held the warm purring bundle of soft fur and big pathetic eyes.
After a while his belongings weren’t exciting and new anymore. They were their belongings. It was in this same way that the box began to lose its appeal. She would place her magazines upon it, or toss the mail there if she had groceries to attend to first. She had bought a test, two to be sure. He had held her hand with two of his as they waited it for it to develop. The plus emerged, as blue as his eyes filled with love and fear. She had felt she looked like an alien at times during the pregnancy, but he always told her she looked beautiful.
In the hospital she held Rose in her arms and when he looked at her this time, the love outweighed the fear. They had tried so hard to cope the first few weeks. Rose cried all through the night. They never slept more than a few hours at a time. She felt consumed, an empty shell. She loved her baby with all her heart, but was beginning to resent her. Sleep deprivation was gnawing relentlessly at her sanity. It was him who brought it up. She pretended to be shocked although it had been at the back of her mind for days. She couldn’t bring herself to do it at first. Give her time, she had said. Her sleeping pattern will sort itself out. Of course her optimism didn’t last, and three days later she was moving her magazines to the kitchen table and shuffling droopy eyed to their bed. She had slept for what felt like years, but woke feeling terrible. She held Rose close and wept. Never again, my baby. Never again, I promise. It was six months before she stopped feeling the guilt. Before she could go out without Rose, tell her friends she was at daycare, or with him. They fought about it a lot. But it got easier. Too easy.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
short story: the box
A retarded little piece of flash fiction for you. I'd love some feedback!