The Color of Memory Boxes

Boxes are much better than walls, in my opinion. Walls are impersonal, they always have their backs turned to you, refuse to look you in the eye. Boxes are like being protected by a timeline of your own life. They are a boundary made of the most important things enveloped in one tone, flavorless gingerbread bark. It wasn’t until 4th grade that I learned the word “hoarder.” I guess that’s what mom is. I don’t really mind it. Each of these boxes has memories in it, memories from when I was too small to remember things, from when I was learning about the world, from when I was learning words like “hoarder.” I don’t like that word, it makes it seem like we live in dirt. We don’t live in dirt, we live in boxes and chachkies and trinkets and baubles. I guess it’s kind of annoying. I trip a lot and fall and end up bleeding because of some strange knickknack strewn on the floor.

We don’t leave the house, mom says it’s safer in here and I agree with her. Outside is painful, for your eyes, for your ears, for your body. You can trip over a knickknack here but trip over something out there and people laugh, they point, they call you vampire. When you trip outside, it’s over something useless like a crack in the sidewalk. Cracks don’t have memories, cracks are the opposite of memories, they are empty chasms of black. Our house has cracks in the walls but we covered them with boxes.

Once my mom told me that the reason she has so many things is because they remind her of moments, moments her sidewalk-crack mind might forget. When she was in high school a man, with a nondescript face, in nondescript clothes came into her geometry classroom decided to inject the shapes with bullets. Not a single shape survived, except for my mom who had three perfectly round bullet holes in her body: one in her arm, one in her leg, and one in her head. She said she changed a bit after that. Instead of feeling emotions like little pinpricks on her skin, she felt them like the bullets that pierced her hippocampus. That’s why she puts things in boxes. Emotions can make things complicated. A mug is a normal mug until an angry person breaks it, or a happy person gives it to someone else, or a sad person fills it with tears. But a mug stays a mug when it lives in a box.

Wednesdays are not good days, mom always says. Wednesdays are trash days. Wednesdays are the days that we sift through the memories we threw away that week to make sure there is nothing worth keeping in our minds. I pull the deflated black bag up the stairs to mom’s room. Her room is the worst, the most full of memories, painful memories. Memories that sat in their teabags too long and steeped and steeped until everything around them was bitter and they had swollen to twice their size and seemed more important. Mom is not laying in her bed, I don’t understand. She is bleeding color into her dark room. She’s asleep in memories. We were safe! We were supposed to be safe in our little memory fortress where the bullets don’t get to you. We were supposed to be safe.

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