First up is reminiscence. It’s one of my favorite words, though it always makes me feel a little bittersweet. The word makes me think that though the moments we remember may have slipped out of our reach, in a brief daydream we can return, even if the places or people the memories are tied to no longer exist. But then, I remember that we eventually wake up and realize we were just deluding ourselves, and suddenly, we’re filled with inconceivable sadness that we can’t express to those who don’t share our memories.
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From Up in the Attic
Reminiscence (n): The act or process of recalling past experiences, events, etc.
“Oh, no, darling. You really don’t need to come— I’m just throwing out some old junk, you know, trying to get the attic cleaned out so the renovators can finally get started. It’s just some dusty, old crates… I’m taking a little walk through memory lane is all— Yes, I’m sure— We’ve already talked about this, darling. I told you I’m fine with it. I’ve got to go now. Dinner? Yes, that would be lovely. 6pm? Isn’t that a bit early? No, you’re absolutely right. I’ll be ready. Yes, umm, you too, darling. Same.”
Slinging her coat and purse over her grandmother’s old rocking chair, Emma gazed deeply into her phone, hoping it somehow held the secrets of the universe. When all she got was a black screen, Emma pocketed the shiny, silver, little device, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of an endless sea of cardboard boxes.
“Oh, dear… “
Her phone gave off a little buzz, sending vibrations through the still, tranquil air. It was her husband. The man she had just gotten off the phone with.
Have fun looking through old memories. Don’t hesitate to call if you need any help, Dove.
There was no doubt in Emma’s mind that Noah Summerlin was the perfect guy. He was reliable, responsible, and respectful. He loved her. What more did she need?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The more Emma repeated it to herself, the truer it became. She would say it a million times if needed.
A deep sigh swept up a cloud of dust. The individual particles glittering in the slanted rods of sunlight looked like fairy dust.
Emma reached for the first box.
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It was like she was watching herself grow up.
Old drawings, journals, photographs, mementos, souvenirs.
She found she couldn’t really bring herself to throw any of it away, but she still had to make an attempt. If her family was still around, they would have had a wonderful time going through all of it.
But it was too late now.
They were selling off her childhood home, and all the memories with it.
Emma was still a little uncertain, but she regarded this as an important step in moving on. All the memories in here had become bad ones. And though Noah thought that she was going to regret it later, she knew she wanted this phase in her life to be over.
This was just the final nail in the coffin.
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“Oh, sorry, darling. It’s six, isn’t it?”
“Oh, no. You’re good for another hour. I just wanted to swing by and check up on you. Looking through memories can be quite a gloomy process, can’t it?”
He sat down beside her, endearingly awkward as he tried to fold up his too long legs.
Emma crumpled up the paper she had been holding into a tight little ball and flung it at the pile of other discardables.
Noah had a propensity for swinging by at precisely the wrong time.
She was in the middles of sorting through that man’s things.
No, that wouldn’t be quite right. Their things.
“Who’s that, Dove?”
He was pointing to a picture frame leaning against the crate. Emma quickly grabbed the picture and stuffed it into the box. She began resealing it, deciding that pitching the whole thing would be better than going through it with Noah.
“It’s no one, darling. Just… somebody.”
“Oh, really? Then why are you being so secretive?”
“I’m not, darling. It’s just… a bad memory of someone who’s long gone.”
Noah raised an eyebrow.
“It was before we got married, and he’s dead now, anyway.”
Shock dawned on his face.
“I’m so sorry. Was he someone important to you?”
He was my world.
“No. It was just a passing fling.”
Emma forced her lips into an awkward attempt at a smile.
“Besides, I’m happy with where I am now. I’m happy with you.”
Emma repeated the words to herself a few times as she shoved the precious box to the discard pile, sending up a new cloud of dust. It looked rather beautiful in the sunlight. As if each particle was a single suspended second in time, glittering in its own, yet no less meaningful way.
“What?” she asked, turning around.
Suddenly, she was swept up into a tight hug. The scent of the salty ocean breeze washed over her. Noah’s cologne. She closed her eyes and tried to drown herself in the warmth of his arms.
They broke apart three minutes later as his phone rang. He frowned at the device, looking up at her apologetically. It’s the restaurant, he mouthed, even though he hadn’t picked up the call yet. A silly, yet rather adorable quirk.
Emma waved him off with a warm little grin sketched across her face.
He stood by the doorway, probably uncertain if he should take the call inside the room or out in the hallway.
One day, Emma told the back of his head, tousled with chocolate colored curls, I’m going to fall in love with you. Until then, please wait for me.