She keeps his wristwatch
in a jewelry box, securely hidden underneath the bottom drawer of her dresser. She would have to remove the drawer in order to get to it. Other small trinkets
, once belonging to him, now left behind and hers, hide with the watch. Ticket stubs from their second date, the garnet
stone that fell out of his high school ring
, a picture of him, cut out of what used to be her favorite picture.
She lives in what used to be their house. When the loan payment is due, she looks at the title. It still has both of their names. She keeps a room upstairs locked up with the bigger things he left behind. His textbooks from college
that he thought he might use again someday, his movies
. The picture he painted of her during that night school art class rests against the wall, on the floor. There’s not even a nail to hang it up with. This was going to be his game room.
He keeps a photo of her in his wallet. It used to be displayed so that every time he opened it, it was the first thing he’d see. Now it’s folded up and tucked in a pocket
, behind his Visa
, bus pass, and various receipts. He’s got a box hidden on a closet shelf that holds everything else he once valued. A lock of hair
from the time she was daring enough to let him trim it, an origami ring made from a dollar bill, creased and folded on a car trip back from a holiday trip to Boston. Last year’s date planner, with her appointments and odd phone numbers she once needed scribbled in under his own. He does not keep a calendar anymore, it only reminds him of how nice her handwriting
looked next to his.
The photo of them on the ice pond, he was trying
to teach her to play hockey, both ice and tonsil. Black and white and zoomed in, his friend Bill had taken it from across the pond, neither was expecting the snap shot. It looked so natural that you would think it was staged. He keeps it turned around backwards
in a simple black frame on top of the television. He keeps his refrigerator stuffed with vegetables. He knows she always worried about his health. He drinks skim milk
even though he never liked it.
She likes to think his things sit dormant in her house because he doesn’t have room for them, because he just hasn’t gotten around to coming for them. He likes to think they are there so that he has a reason to come back.
She’s too afraid to call and he’s too afraid to show up on the doorstep to collect. She keeps the spare key hidden exactly where it used to be, desperately hoping
that some night he’ll show up to use it. He cut a spare from his original before she made him give it back anyway, thinking someday he would just go home.
The mailman delivers their last bit of communication.
The papers he needed to sign; the bill from the attorney that she owed. They were supposed to split things fifty, fifty. And by all legal means, they did. But how do you divide
up memories, memento
s, and pictures that were never supposed to fade? How do you split up the small things that supposedly have no value? What are they supposed to do with those things? He could never give them back. She could never just throw him away.