"Honey, would you please clean out these drawers? I have no idea what's living in there these days." She's being sarcastic, of course, and yet what I end up finding in those drawers seems so alive to me. I heed my mother, getting up off my ass and settling next to the three drawers that have been left neglected for some time now. I clean out two of them, finding nothing of interest. The third drawer is filled with winter paraphernalia: lumpy hand-knitted scarves in lurid colors, an assortment of pathetic beanies printed with everything from pandas to loud rainbow stripes, puffy purple gloves. I set everything I will never use again (ahem: panda beanie) in a pile beside me, and continue to root through the drawer. My fingers close around a thin scrap of seemingly inconsequential red fabric. I pull it out for further examination, and realize it is the short sleeve of a T-shirt ripped at the seam. Why would I have this in my drawer? I rack my brain, searching for an explanation of how a ratty T-shirt sleeve could have ever been useful.
"Oh..." Suddenly my stomach drops and my breath catches in my throat. I remember. The last time i saw this particular piece of cotton was over six months ago. It had belonged to someone that I was just beginning to get out of my head...
"Agh! You're going to pay for that one, buddy!" I smile giddily as the frigid ice drips down the back of my ski parka. He's running ahead, his snowboard boots much more forgiving than my ski boots. I can barely walk, let alone chase after a varsity athlete.
I finally get to the lodge, panting, and am greeted by a clump of snow falling from above. I glance up to see him grinning mischievously, his closely cropped hair glistening with ice.
"Oh...you..." I clomp up the steps as fast as I can manage, dragging my skis after me. My arms are numb from carrying them and my feet are knotted with cramps from attempting to run in my unyielding boots. I have no time to plot revenge, however, as the gondola comes careening around the corner the second I reach the top of the stairs.
"C'mon, let's get in this one." He tugs my arm and we fall haphazardly into the gondola, laughing. The operator smiles and shakes his head in our direction. Ah, young love, he's thinking.
"Thanks for that." I joke, shoving him playfully. I stand against the pole in the center, facing where he sits.
"You're very welcome." He's smirking arrogantly, a look I can't resist. All it takes is a gentle tug at my waist and I feel his lips on mine. My emotions swirl around me in an unintelligible whirlwind, my consciousness so supremely altered by his touch that I feel lightheaded. Around us the air is sharply cold, but I feel his skin flushed with warmth underneath my fingertips and can't help but smile against his mouth. What a perfect spot for me to be right now, in this cramped box suspended fifty feet over the snow-veiled mountains, alone with this wonderful person. Before I know it the ride is over, and we tumble out again, dragging our equipment with us.
"You warm enough?" He asks, a grin tugging gently at the corners of his mouth.
"You could say that," My smile is irrepressible. His gloved hand finds mine, and I can somehow still feel the low hum of my cells in response to his touch despite the layers of fleece separating our skin. "This thing works really well." I muse, gesturing to the ratty red T-shirt sleeve that I have been using to cover my nose and mouth on the slopes.
"I have a couple more in my car, if you want a dry one." We walk to his tiny green sedan, which is decorated by a foot or so of fresh powder on the roof, windows and windshield. Leaving our outerwear outside, we tumble into the cramped front seat. Undressing is quite an ordeal, as we are both wearing heavy boots, layers of jackets, sweaters, snow pants, and long underwear. He laughs as I struggle to remove my tightly-buckled boots.
"Shut up," I smile at him as I successfully dislodge my foot from its depths. With the press of a button, his crackly stereo is blasting commercial hip-hop and the heat is on full blast.
"There," He says softly, before leaning in and caressing my cheek gently. With one taste I am flooded with sticky hot lust, and hastily peel my water-resistant long underwear top over my head with his help. I am fueled by the image of his lean, well-muscled form leaning against the back seat. In seconds our bodies have melded together, tongues searching hungrily. My head is soaring, melting, numb...my mind is met with a barrage of indescribable sensations all at once. Bliss erupts through his fingers and permeates my skin at the slightest touch.
My body was so full of satisfaction and euphoria, all I could think of was what I was feeling in that very moment. I wanted to remember every second with him, because I knew within a day he would be gone, back to where he was too far away to touch. What I would give to have him whenever I wanted...as much as I wanted. Because no one could do it like he could.
I hold the sleeve in my hand, unable to move. My brain is overtaken with the memory so quickly that I hadn't prepared myself. I wasn't going to cry...I wasn't going to let him back in...I had made a decision to be done with him, and I had to stick to it. So what now, do I throw away this outwardly innocent scrap of fabric? Do I hide it somewhere where it would be safe, so I can keep it as a momento? I quickly realize I can't leave it in the drawer, if my mother ever comes upon it she'll toss it in a second or use it as a rag. Some part of me - a large part - feels strongly adverse to this.
I lift the scrap to my face and inhale, attempting to draw the last fibers containing his scent out of the fabric. I can't smell him at all; it has been sitting here too long. I place it gently to my lips and kiss it, just imagining myself as the girl I was when I last wore it. We had clambered out of his car to discover that we had left our things, including the sleeve, out on the roof. They were buried in fluffy powder.
"Look, we melted the snow on the windows." He had said, smiling at me warmly. I remember swelling with accomplishment, knowing that I had just experienced the definition of true passion.
The sleeve, I felt, had transported me back in time. Such an innocuous object, and yet it had undone months of progress. I had been almost ready before this. Maybe. I still thought of him often, but the wrenching pain in my stomach and heavy weight of longing had disappeared. But now, staring at something that was his very own, I felt them sneaking back. It was the only thing I really had of his, other than my heart, which had been locked away long ago.
So I stood up, my fist clenching the sleeve tightly, and buried it deep in the drawer with all of my underthings. If there was any place his memory belonged, it was there.