Sunday 3 October 2021

The Old Box.

The cigar box is engraved solid silver and belonged to his grandfather who died 36 years ago.


It is wrapped in protective bubble wrap held secure with tape and was at the back of the highest shelf in the upstairs bedroom, hidden by old boxes and plastic and under a thick layer of dust.


It was not clear that he remembered it being there: if he did he had left it as the last thing to pack as a gesture to the memories that were beginning to overwhelm him.


Emptying this house had been difficult, it had changed from being an unwanted obligation and become a squaring up to loss, the past and an unknown future; the cigar box would not let him let go so he placed it on the shelf in the empty sitting room, defying any of us to touch it.


His daughter tried, placing it carefully in the box of oddments that she would take to her house and where he would sleep for the next few nights. The box already contained his childhood Teddy Bear – one eye a button and one arm absent – but he refused to allow it, instead setting it alongside the fireplace.


The fire was cold, three years had passed since joyous flames had danced in the grate; outside the pile of wood was hidden beneath wet newspaper, a rusty piece of iron, a broken hose pipe and a greasy bike chain.


Many people had once shared this house.


Now, it was just him.


Tomorrow he would be gone and someone new would take his place.


If he picked up the cigar box all this would finally be gone.


So he didn’t.


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