It stood standing in the corner of the dining room for weeks – an entire quarter of corporate results came, went; stock ratings changed from hold to buy and back again. The world moved. The box did not. It’s not that it was foreboding or even stressful. So why leave it? Laziness? Though that isn’t exactly Isabella’s thing. Apathy – that’s a little it. All the things in this box used to mean something to her, enough for her to save them anyway. These little slivered notions of time palp a faded feeling, somewhere in her inner back corner, but barely. It takes her this long to unpack this pack-of-life-past because she is afraid. Afraid she won’t remember. And unsure. Unsure if that is a natural aging process; a brain overloaded with daily life; or the entrance of Lady Dementia. Stage Left.
In the box are things Isabella thinks you might expect – though not totally sure – is she or is she not on the sine curve of “normal?” She wonders what would be in someone else’s box. There is a note that was passed between three eighth graders. She – being one of them – a serial of nothingness during a class that had lost their attention. There are papers written in high school and college with what to her seem like cruel jokes of teaching: “No Fragments in a Title. This is weak. This is not a poem.” Isabella’s chest rises with a giggle. Almost everything she ever writes today is fragment-full. Huh. Inevitability of self? Or stupidity of classroom telling and yelling?
There are many a notebook – journal after journal in this box – the bane of her existence. Isabella has learned that writing things down leads to discovery; and discovery leads to conflict; and that leads to running solo down the road towards an ending you can’t imagine; and when you get to it, you are lost. So no. Journals cannot stay. Plus, who knows what things she has done wrong in her life that she wrote in there as if they were learning experiences. Now she has a child, and that child might find these scribbles upon her death if she stuffs them in a closet. And then what things would be revealed that she never planned as part of being Mama.
And that’s just the nut of it. This box – full of memories she cannot recollect – are they footprints from the past, trails to the future of finally understanding her pieced together self, or just the real-time reinforcement of what is happening? She cannot remember. Her mind is clouding over. Words that used to spring forward, now hang back in some recess she can’t find. Ideas that could be come back to later, because they would still be there, now flee the scene as if not wanting to be questioned as the only witness.
What is this aging mind? Accelerated, unseeable-on-scan, but quietly shutting down her brain section-by-section. Sun-setting consciousness like a failing company. Last one out, shut the lights. Neurological fissures leaving bits and pieces unconnected. Forever going forward without the puzzle completed. They say in the end you are really only alone, and her mind seems committed to that goal. Closing in on itself. Darkening. Shrinking its radius. Isabella sorts the box into two. One to go the basement – let the boy find the honor roll certificate that will make him smile – and one to go to her closet to be read before thrown. See if it jogs anything. If in some period of time, yet to be named, she has not read the rest of that box, she will throw it. Gone before she is…not to risk discovery.
©Gabriella Strecker, 2016
Image courtesy of http://www.whitmanarchive.org/resources/sleepers/loc.00346.006.jpg