The morning air kissed the tip of my nose, and the light winds from outside whistled in the unnerving ambiance accompanying my soon to be former neighborhood. I stood in front of the house, and for a second my mind drifted off and my eyes became lost with a glance at it.
“How many more boxes do we have left?” Michael shouted.
I quickly shifted my focus from the house to Michael, who was in the driver’s seat of the U-Haul truck, and then to the back opening of the vehicle which was facing me.
“Hold on, I’ll be back in a few minutes,” I shouted back.
I turned my back yet again, facing the house and began to make my way to the front. The walk was painful, and although managing myself to keep going in and out of the house today, I realized this was it. This might be the last time stepping into a place I have known to be of comfort for years. I made it into the front, and slowly rested my palm onto the cold, rusty, metal doorknob. Time certainly took it’s place on this house and even when I opened the door, there was a creaking of its hinges. The house was dark, dreary, and somewhat lifeless from the slow consumption of dust build up, but from the light peeking in between the paired curtains, this gave way to a bit of luminance. My eyes analyzed the practically empty house and stopped, seeing that the basement door had still been open. I treaded down the lengthy set of stairs into the basement and a cold breeze caught the surface of my skin. Concrete floors, exposed insulated walls and all.
“This place had hardly changed.” I thought to myself.
The basement was never done, although thought of before. Emma and I would always talk about making changes to the house. We had moved here 5 years ago when the house had just been built and ready for naive couples to come splurge all their money for the rip-off of the century. Although we painted the house a few times, maybe even changed up the furniture here and there, aspiring to become one of those Ikea catalogs, we somehow managed to fix up everything except here.
I wandered around and was about to leave the house with my hollow findings but I remembered that underneath the staircase of the basement, there was a small door present which inside was supposed to be used for more storage. Although I couldn’t recall a time ever using this, a feeling of familiarity came to me. With the sight of it, I shivered, and the sudden coldness ran along from my shoulders to all the way down my spine. I opened the door and it was very dim inside, with a decent amount of cobwebs at the corners of the storage room walls. I peeked my head inside and noticed a faintly scuffled cardboard box with what seemed to be something written on the box’s lid but covered with just enough dust for it to be eligible. My hands gripped the side handles of the box and I dragged it outside of the storage space and towards where I was kneeling down. I used my hand to remove the thin layer of dust engulfed around the box, and it read:
JULY 8TH 2012.
I gave myself a few seconds to think of what this was meant and my heart immediately melted through the cracks of the concrete floor. This was the first box of memories I’d share with Emma when we first came about. This was the beginning of it all, and for a few minutes all I could think about was, well, that. I remembered a time in our high school years. It was in my fourth year of high school and the beginning of my second semester. There was a lockdown drill happening during second period and funny enough, just like her, I was in the washroom when it took place.
BEEP BEEP BEEP
I bolted out of the washroom and coincidentally so did she, we made eye contact right when we both entered the hallway. This was the very first time I had seen Emma. She was wearing black converse with slightly ripped blue jeans, a striped shirt and a beanie. Her cheeks were plump and rosy, her nose as cute as a button, and her eyes, a dark espresso brown. We figured we’d both find a place to hide for the drill since it was just the two of us, so we hid in one of the practice booths in our high school’s music room. We had small talk, we spoke about how our semester was coming along and talked about our hobbies and interests. It sounds strange but I felt a connection to her right away when we began to talk. The P.A system came back on again and that was the cue for all of us to head back to our classes, so I gave Emma my phone number and that was the start of it all.
I became eager to see what was being held inside this, it must have been put in that storage compartment the day we moved in. I took off the lid of the box and began to run my hands in the box. Cards of anniversaries were found in the box. In the beginning of our relationship, I remembered every single month we’d write each other cards full of endearment. This was hard to go through as I opened up some of them, and then I found our first month anniversary card she had made for me. My eyes became watery and teardrops had landed over the ever so slightly yellowing paper of the card.
Happy one month, love. We’ve only been dating for a month now, but this month has honestly felt like a year, maybe even a lifetime! Well I’d hope it do be like that one day. You mean so much to me and I wouldn’t know what to do without you being in my life. I am oh so grateful to have found someone just as kind, loving, and as interesting of a person as you are. You know, I’ve talked to my friends about us, and one of them had told me that they believed everyone has their own pairing in life, their ultimate better half, their soulmate! She told me that that’s what we have both found and I hope that she is right about this because I’m madly in love with you, Aiden. I hope we are able to grow old together and bald together, we’ll be looking like two sacks of potatoes when we do, haha. Thank you for being in my life, let’s keep on making more memories from here!
My lower lip began to quiver and my body trembled onto the cold floor. Quiet sounds of whimpering came from me, and I couldn’t stop crying. The walls around me felt like they were caving in and I felt suffocated in this feeling I was in. It’s strange to know that one day that special someone you’ve known for so long could just someday not be a part of your journey in life. It was so hard for me to let go.
Emma sat me down a month ago, and she talked to me about ending our relationship. I was confused, and just like anyone else that might be in the position I was in, I begged and begged for this to not be it. She explained that she has been thinking of what she had loved about me lately at the time, but she just couldn’t and said she became lost in what I meant to her. I didn’t know what to think of this, my mind had a hundred things come at me at once and I couldn’t handle what I was hearing. I felt like a lost with myself, seeking for someone’s compassion that wasn’t mine. She wasn’t mine anymore.
I wiped away my tears, and sat there. The echoing of silence became unbearable and I looked at the card one more time, put it back in the envelope and laid it softly onto the rest of the cards and photos in the box. I sighed. I never thought it was going to be like this, but I couldn’t cry anymore, the tightness of my chest loosened up gradually. I gathered the lid and placed it over the opening. Then yet again, I gripped the box by its side handles and stood up with the box in my clammy hands. I started to walk back to the storage room door and placed the box back in the small room, tucking it in from where it was found. The flight of stairs became relieving to me, and so did walking out of the house afterwards. I closed the door, and went into the truck where Michael was, and we drove off.