A Few Things Louder Than Cemeteries by Abram Valdez
The good china fractured in the move even though I triple wrapped it in the newspaper obituaries of people who died three years ago. Your herringbone-handle overnight bag with all of your scripts that say to be taken with food or milk made the trip to my one-bedroom safely. In the shipping to the new addresses, I received a box meant for your folks. Not sure if I’m going to give it to them, but I don’t know if I’ll keep it either. No offense, but I didn’t keep your clothes. My closet only has so much room now, and really, I wasn’t sure how long to keep clothes. Is it something I’m supposed to save like baby teeth? And then where does it stop? Belts? Shoes? Hairbrush? Books? Music? Maybe I didn’t wait long enough before donating your coats, but with the season changing, it seemed like the right thing.
I found the spare key to our first rental in Garland, framed it, and hung it next to your diploma that the college was good enough to forward to me. The frame is so small. It’s like a trophy for mice. The key, I mean. Obviously, your diploma is normal size.
Speaking of keys, I have a mailbox key now for my new place. My mail needs security it seems. I have a key for the new deadbolt and the doorknob. I’m getting a key for the new office, my new manager says. So many new keys. Still, no luck finding the one that opens the trunk storing Goliad’s dog tags and the empty pens you used for sketching floorplans. I know. That’s the stuff I kept in lieu of your scarves. I’m sure you’d roll your eyes if you hadn’t donated them.
I very stupidly drove to our old home after work one day last week. Part of it was just the instinct of driving the same route home for 10 years. But then I rang their doorbell because I wanted to see what the new owners had done to our place. The people that live there seemed sad. Also, they wouldn’t let me in.
I said, “Just a looksie. Just a peek. Just a once-over. If you don’t mind…”
I offered them my Detective Comics #27, my recipe for mofongo, and somehow, I ended up showing them my thumb’s scar where you accidentally stuck me with our wedding knife. Not a bite. I got a handshake in return and miserable eyes. The man of the house pawed at my shoulder.
“You want me to call someone for you?” he asked.
Too soon, I thought. Too soon.
So I’m in the alley, looking at their backyard, and my god, they dug up the Bottle Brush tree we planted our second year together! There is no color back there now. It’s like they don’t even know we used to live there. That we had it all figured out. All they had to do was move in and keep it going. It’s not that hard. Dummies.
On the way out, I noticed the wind chime we bought for the patio with the first check from our joint bank account lying outside the recycle bin, so I hung it on the rear bumper of their Dodge Durango. This is their first marriage, it looks like. I’ll have to come back when they are asleep to dig up the time capsule in their backyard. They have no idea of the history under there. Unless they found that and threw it away, too.
I’m not sure how often I can do this. I don’t want to call it visiting. Sharing? Performing? There are so many people here just talking, and none of us are talking to each other. One lady brought balloons. Maybe I’m supposed to bring chocolates and roses and nylons. Maybe a mariachi band. I’m afraid to look around too closely, but they all look like pros. I worry they are studying me, that they’ll snicker, “Nice flowers, rookie.” Or worse still, what if I become like them—mourning pros? I mean, all of this chatter. Is this happening at all of these places all of the time? How can you even stand it?
Anyway, I won’t keep you. And I won’t stop by unannounced in the future. You should hear me coming a mile away, what with all of the new keys.
Abram Valdez is a lapsed poet who hails from Denton County, Texas. He wanted to be a marine biologist as a child, but there was too much math involved, so he became a writer, where a life of writing is even more dangerous than marine life. Find him @abramvaldezCS.