Monday, February 14, 2005

7:05 PM

Note to self: staying up all night and then sleeping all morning on the couch is a really good way to wreck the weekend. I felt like crap and just hung around the apartment. Here it is Monday evening and I'm still paying. At one point I pulled a shirt over the box so I wouldn't have to look at it.

This morning I'd remembered that the cleaning lady was coming, so I made a point of getting all the Vicodin out of sight. When I got home, the entire place had that tidy Monday-afternoon look, with a faint whiff of the orange stuff Mrs Brudzick uses when she dusts. This week she'd used the remote to weight her usual note so it would drape over the front of the TV. She knows my habits.

I dropped my bag, hung up my coat, took a Vicodin, and headed off to the bathroom. On my way back to the kitchen, I noticed something sitting on the neatly made bed.

I sighed. Of course. Mrs B had found the box when she was picking up the laundry. She didn't know where it belonged, so she had put it on the bed.

I sat down on the bed. It was just an old cardboard box, with old pieces of tape hanging off the lid. When I'd pulled it off the shelf, my plan had been to throw it away. And that was still my plan: straight to the trash.

And then, because I couldn't not do it, I opened the flaps.

Little toys. Ticket stubs. A kid's menu from Denny's. A compact disc. A bobby pin. A yellowed "Far Side" clipped from a newspaper.

I started reading through the greeting cards and postcards. "Look, I made it..." "Just wanted to let you know my new address..." " Happy Birthday!!!..." "may I be excused? My brain is full...." Thought you'd get a kick out of this.... "With Deepest Sympathy...." "Dear Greg, you will NEVER BELIEVE THIS...." "Thanks for a really fun time..." "Get Well Soon..."

I stop reading when I get to the letter that starts, Dear Greg, well, it's happened at last.... I start flipping through the letters and cards. Many of them are still sealed in their envelopes. I don't open them.

I look up as I realize I'm hungry. The sun has already set. I put everything back in the box, put it back on the bed, and head off to the kitchen.


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