It was hard to believe that she’d shared this space with her siblings for so many years. As a child, the room had seemed large enough for the three of them, with a set of bunks on one wall, and a single bed on the other side of the room. A wardrobe was positioned along the wall between the beds, and on the other side of the room, next to the door, was a row of shelves. The furniture was still there, looking smaller than she remembered and with scuff marks from the battles of their childhood.
Mattie opened the wardrobe door, the handle still a little loose. There were some old wire coat hangers inside, jangling together softly at the sudden opening of the door. On the floor of the wardrobe was an empty cardboard box, and she lifted it out and put it on the floor beside her.
She turned around and looked at the shelves. They were crowded in parts with books and toys, but there were also a few gaps where her sisters had claimed their favourite pieces to take with them into their new lives. Mattie hadn’t taken anything when she left home, confident that she’d be returning soon. But that hadn’t happened, and she’d conceded her right to take her pick of their childhood treasures.
Mattie looked along the shelves, trying to work out what was missing. The top shelf held battered boxes of board games. The bigger boxes were on the bottom: Mouse Trap, Game of Life, even the old Mystery Date game that they’d been given by older cousins. They’d been obsessed with it one summer, endlessly playing it and hoping that someone else opened the door on the dud date. Mattie wondered if that was where their competitive streak regarding each other’s relationships started.
The second shelf held a collection of childhood books, including hardcover versions of Black Beauty and Anne of Green Gables. She reached for one of the books and flicked through the pages, her finger trailing over the beautiful colour plates. There were fairy tale collections, mysteries and choose your own adventure books, along with books on science, horses and how things work, marking their changing interests over the years.
On the bottom shelf was an assortment of dolls and boxes holding incomplete Lego sets. Mattie reached for a wooden box, slid the lid off and inside was a collection of farm animals. Tipping them on the floor beside her, she picked out the pig with piglets, the black and white cows, the chestnut horse that was her favourite. The little wooden-style fences still clipped together, though they seemed a bit wonky. Mattie smiled, remembering the hours they had spent creating complex miniature worlds with animals that they’d only seen on rare trips in the countryside.
Mattie put the chestnut horse in her pocket. The rest of the room could be cleared, ready for the next family to make it their own.
I’m participating in this blogging challenge for the month of January which supports starting the year on the “write” track. You can find out more about the challenge, join in and read other posts here.
Photo: sculpture by Freya Jobbins called Skinfaxi, featuring an interesting repurposing of toy parts. There is a full photo here.