Cardboard Boxes - Dolphine Penzo '18

The place is small and barely decorated. It has been stripped naked and left for a new owner to exploit. A lonely chair sits in the middle of the livingroom floor. A lamp stands gloomy in the corner of the room, attempting to provide a glimmer of light over the darkness penetrating the windows. Every noise creates an echo. A huge mirror fills the space of the hallway, making the place appear less forsaken. Although it is nearly empty, the walls carry the sweet memories of laughter as well as the frustrated yells of anger. The familiar smell of home has faded yet still lingers. Moving boxes are still more familiar than any place she has ever lived in. She walks into what used to be her bedroom and stares at the four cardboard boxes stacked against the pink wall. Pink. The room suddenly feels more pink. She continues to look around the place, soaking up the emotions and listening to the stories every corner has to tell. The cold, black stone floor in the hallway talks about jump ropes and angry neighbors. The heavy door speaks of pain and broken fingers. The bathtub mocks her fear of water and imaginary creatures emerging from the drain. Her fingers lightly trace the holes in the walls made by nails and tacks from where the pictures used to hang. Pictures which carry stories of their own. The walls are screaming at her. They’re empty and exposed. She attempts to comfort them by explaining that she doesn’t want this to happen either, but nevertheless it is hopeless. Abandonment. It is a betrayal like no other. Two, almost three years. That’s longer than she ever expected to stay anywhere.

How many times now? Twelve. In her eight years this is the twelfth time she’s saying goodbye. There must be something special about this one, because never has a wall spoken louder than this. They’re frustrated and so is she. Never has a place been so close to be called “home”.

Four years pass and the attempted pursuit of happiness has failed. Moving boxes are stacked yet again. A baby boy with a dimply smile, fair skin and gray eyes is the latest addition to the duo. The new place is unwelcoming. The walls speak a different language. There is no bathtub to tell its stories. Even the air is flawed; it flows in the wrong direction. The place carries someone else's memories and refuses to create new ones. The hostile environment creates a bitter atmosphere and resentment within the people. No story is really worth telling, except for the story of the old wrinkled man with as much energy and enthusiasm of a child, sitting in his front yard cooking tea on his grill. He was a warm hearted man with a smile full of gaps and a peculiar character. Soon enough number fourteen rolls around the corner and by now she’ll call just about anything home. This place allows her to flip through the pages of the past and fill in the empty space with her own pen. It is after all a familiar place, one she has visited before. A place of lost but harmless souls who strome around only presenting themselves when they want to be seen. Nobody minds except for the dimple smiled boy. Eyes follow him in the dark and tease him out of it. He does not find it as amusing as the rest of us. Later he has come to accept the eyes and invite them to play hide-and-go-seek with him. The girl is now grown and has written plenty of stories on the walls for the next owner to scroll through. Cardboard boxes consume the already small space of the new hallway. Flashbacks of broken fingers and mystery creatures in the bathtub jumble in her mind as she carries the boxes of her past up the three flights of stairs to the attic of her new home.