There is a box of them, sitting under my bed, gathering dust as time trickles on. As the seasons passed, it saw less light as more knick-knacks were tossed beneath the bed - old sweaters, toys, ticket stubs, the bicycle helmet I wore the summer I fell off a mountain biking, an old teddy bear from an old flame - they blanketed both the box under my bed and my memory.
It wasn’t until thirty-odd years or so later that I found them again. I had moved on, you see, to newer, better things, newer, better people, and a newer, better life. The box came with me, carelessly shoved away into moving trucks, stacked on top of other boxes, always somewhere within my sight but nondescript enough to fail to attract my attention. I wouldn’t know for certain, but I guess my younger self didn’t care much for appearance, or perhaps she assumed I would’ve remembered the box and what it held. Curiously, or perhaps sadly, she was wrong.
It is not until I have settled down, much, much later, that my eyes fell on the old gray box, faded from black with age and dust, the lone item I had yet to take out of storage and put away. There was a slight twinge in my heart, or rather my soul, like my brain had sent a spark that jolted its memory. /I know this box. Remember? You put away a piece of your soul in there./
A cloud of dust puffs out as I lift the lid open, so thick that it resembled the clouds floating by the window, blowing in the breeze. The particles spiral up into the air, creating hazy patterns, merging with the air. It is as if I had released a cloud of melancholy upon the atmosphere. The dust swirls in the light of dusk by the window, forming shapes that I could have sworn I’d seen before, from a time long, long ago, when my younger self had been certain of me.
I continue with my motions, blowing inside the box to allow more dust to escape, sifting through the cards inside with hesitant fingers, unwilling to face the fact that I had forgotten what I had put inside. Slowly, I upend the box, letting the cards of white spill out onto the parquet. Some land face up, a square of color in the middle, while some did not. I start with the ones that did.
A square snapshot is the first to catch my eye. Turning it over, two figures covered in white sheets stare back at me through the two black holes in each ghostly face. Something flickers inside me - unease or nostalgia or perhaps melancholy at not recognizing what the picture means.
I don’t know how long I sat there, poring over those little squares of frozen time that held everything my younger self had ever loved, from the smiling faces she had known in her youth, to her favorite sweaters and songs, to the enchanting warm brown eyes that had gifted her with the teddy bear that had been tossed on top of the box so long ago.
The dust had settled on the floor long before I left the box there.