Overlooked

Flash
Leigh Adamkiewicz


The box was sitting in the middle of the bedroom when I moved in.

It was a black and white shoebox, one corner crumpled from an old blow. It was covered in a thick blanket of dust. It sat in a stray ray of sunshine, glowing like a birthday present. Intentionally placed.

Ridiculous. I didn’t know who had had the apartment before me. The landlord only said that they had left suddenly. Their departure had been my salvation. The office’s new branch opened here on Tuesday, and I hadn’t found an apartment yet.

I had been the kid who wrote her name in magic marker on all her toys. I had wept when Mom moved anything in my room. Boundaries have always been a big thing with me.

I nudged the box with my big toe, pushing it across the faded wall-to-wall carpeting, into my closet.

I left it there and I told myself that they must have been coming back for it.

Two promotions later George moved in. After a late night discussion, we were through my storage spaces, looking for his areas. I don’t know why I waited until he was at work before I started on the closet.

I could feel something move inside the shoebox as I picked it up.

It rolled around, uneven and heavy. I didn’t like the way it felt.

I put it in one of the brown paper grocery bags I kept stacked under the sink. I sealed it with a line of staples. Then I pushed it to the back of the hall closet’s top shelf. I hid it behind the Scrabble game and old phone books.

After two more promotions I found myself packing up for our move into our new house.

The bag was still there. I found it behind George’s bowling shoes, behind my knitting books, behind our wedding photos.

Behind all the clutter that had come and gone it sat crisply under a layer of dust.

It troubled me.

The pen from the bank becomes just another pen in your junk drawer. The CD you borrow from a co-worker becomes the one you’ve always had.

You hold onto something long enough, you begin to feel entitled.

I had had that box for so long that I should have wanted to open it.

But I didn’t.

Even after all this time, it was still someone else’s secret. It was something strange and unwanted. The last thing I wanted to know was what I had been quietly caring for all this time.

I cleaned out the closet and placed the bag back on the top shelf.

I closed the door.

And I left the apartment.

pencil

Besides forwarding her writing ambitions Leigh Adamkiewicz enjoys creating goofy webcomics under the pen name ‘Melvina Wright’. She currently works at an Ohio-based Not-For-Profit institution and lives with her mother and younger sister. E-mail: ladamkie[at]kent.edu.

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