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Friday, July 08, 2011

What's in the box?



It's a tad disconcerting when you're working alone in an empty house one hundred miles from home to look up and see other people in the house with you. i should probably have the radio quieter but i believe music should be felt as much as heard. So, while i think i felt the vibration of a knock, it just as easily could have been a base drum riff. So to paraphrase the ancient ditty, "i was taken by surprise, by a pair of ToNY eyes, while working in the house that day."

His girth blocked much of the living room and he talked about as much as most of his people so i almost didn't notice his wife hiding in his shadow. They were as polite as trespassers can be i suppose and didn't seem inclined to mischief so i attempted to be a gracious host. Not the role for which i was created, i assure you.

He kept me occupied with a steady stream of questions, many of which c
oncerned with whether or not the house had been green before i changed the siding. She moved from room to room in a slightly dazed manner that i normally associate with anti-depressants. "This used to be the kids' room," she wistfully said once, almost to herself. She spoke very little but they revealed that the dump i was about half-way through with gutting had formerly belonged to her brother. He had gotten sick apparently and that explained much of the disrepair and neglect the house had experienced. The couple had a mountain house nearby and it was their custom to stop off here on their way there. Apparently they hadn't known it had been sold. They didn't stay long, said their goodbyes and moved into the front yard. There they paused, had a conversation i couldn't hear and eventually drove away.

They hadn't been a nuisance really but all the same i was glad they were gone. i'm not fond of entertaining strangers as i am not naturally entertaining. It's not them, it's me. i'm also not mentally swift. i'm swiftless-ier when taken by surprise. Afterwards i review the event and all sorts of things occur to me that i wish had had the decency to occur to me when i could have acted on them. In this
case, what occurred to me was that this dump i was gutting, that i had exhausted my regular cache of cusses on, that i would charge for the match to burn down, was a monument, a marker to someone grieving a brother. It was one of the last places on earth she could come and remember and see proof that her memories were real, that people who were gone had once been. To this woman, it hadn't been a poorly assembled prefab, it had been a box holding the precious pages of a one of her favorite stories.

And now, thanks to me, the box was nearly empty. The pages torn out, discarded. Burned. We can't keep the people we love and then we can't even keep the things that reminded us of them. All the more proof that we need to put our treasures in Heaven... before someone comes to renovate the joint.