A Collection

September 15, 2010
I reached my arm under my bed and my fingers found the edge of a cardboard box. A shoebox. I grasped the edge of it’s lid and pulled it out, coughing from the disturbed dust. It was purple with a green title on the top and a shoe label on the side. Size seven and a half. I sat cross-legged next to my bed and stared at it, tracing the green script on the top with my eyes. I knew what was inside.

I put my fingers on the lid. The edges were slightly frayed from age. Slowly, I slipped the lid off. The sound of cardboard against cardboard seemed to reverberate in my ears like a church bell. I breathed in as the lid came off.

At first, I didn’t look inside. I turned my head and set the lid to the side, not looking down. I closed my eyes.

I looked down. The box was filled to the brim with paper of all colors and sizes, folded in all different ways. They were notes. Some were yellow, like parchment. Some were napkins from fast food restaurants, recognizable by their logos. Some were newspaper clippings and some were notebook pages with the raggedy edges still attached. Some were neon cardstock. Some were just white pieces of paper. They were kept disordered inside the box.

Each one had one thing in common. The writing.

I picked up the one that lay on top. It was a napkin.

I love you.

Who knew three simple words could mean so much at one moment, and so little the next?

The next one was the same, only on a newspaper clipping. The clipping was about a car company who was filing for bankruptcy, but that hadn’t mattered to me then.

I love you.

Same handwriting. Same words. Same lost meaning.

Next, a piece of bright orange paper, folded four times. I unfolded it and found it to be a makeshift “For Sale” sign, taken off a car, with a phone number included.

I love you.

That’s all that had mattered.

I pulled out a piece of notebook paper with the frills still attatched. It was a ripped off corner of some other document. The ends of words from the other writing trailed close the the only full words on the paper.

I love you.

One by one, I pulled out every single piece of paper in that purple shoebox, size seven and a half. One by one, I searched the paper or napkin or news clipping for the words I so longed to hear again.

I love you.

Some were hidden within the folds of a napkin, so they took longer to find. Some where folded over so many times, the paper was no bigger than the center of my palm and I had to search it’s labyrinth of folds to find the words.

I love you.

Once I’d found them all, I looked at the pile, much larger now that it was no longer contained inside the box. I stared at it for some time. I mentally scrounged through those papers, the image of those words in my mind. I saw the rips and tears in each paper. I saw the holes in each napkin where the pen had ripped through from pressing too hard. I saw the changes in the color of ink. I saw the slight differences in each letter. I saw.

I saw the lies.

I picked up the last note I had looked at. I stared at it again, taking in those words.

I love you.

Rip. I tore the paper in two, relishing in the sound of the tearing fibers. I breathed deeply, forcing the smell of my room that I had grown so accustom to, make itself known once again. I grabbed another note.

Rip. I tore the next two, three, four papers in half. Each paper had a different sound when I lacerated it. Each dispatched note screamed in terror as I pulled it to shreds.

As I ruptured the notes, I put the remains back in the box. A little burial ground.

A burial ground of lies.

When I was finished, I stared at these notes, my little collection of lies.

I did not throw the box away. Rather, I replaced the lid and slid it back under my bed. I stared at it from under the metal bed frame. It was shrouded in shadows. It sat there, staring back at me like some monster. The monster under the bed. The white shoe label on the side revealed it’s seven-and-a-half-size teeth. An evil grin.

I let the bedsheet fall back to the floor, shielding it’s smile.

I did not throw it away.

I kept it.

I kept it to remind myself to never fall so hard, so easily, ever again. I kept it as a reminder that I would never believe those three words so effortlessly. I kept it so that I would know that not everyone says what they mean. Some people keep an accumulation of lies in their back pocket to pull out and use when it is to their benefit. Those three little words were in his back pocket. They were his little collection of lies and he poured them onto every paper in that box and gave it to me.

Now they were mine. He had given his lies to me and now I will keep them. I will keep them so that I will never be so gullible as to believe them, ever again.

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