by Jennifer Harvey
Things I keep:
A jar of shells collected from the beach many summers ago. You picked out the pink ones and glued them to card to make a collage, remember? Hummed a little tune as you worked, happy and engrossed, and unaware I was watching you. Some days I run my fingers over it and try to recapture that moment. But it’s gone.
The knitted hat with the fuzzy pom-pom you wore every winter, even when you grew too big for it. You thought that was strange, didn’t you? The idea of outgrowing a hat. And maybe you were right about that. The other day I noticed a small hole had formed by the left ear. A different sort of unravelling.
Your letter. For now.
Things I discard:
The brush with strands of your hair. In the aftermath, the immediate aftermath, I thought I’d pull them loose and plait them. A memento-mori. But in the end, it seemed so Victorian, and I didn’t have the stomach for it.
Books. Records. Clothes. Shoes. Diaries. Photos. Some of them. They all went in a fit of impotence. I regret it now but, well …
The video of you cartwheeling in the garden. I’ve watched it so many times, the same question haunting me, tumbling over and over in my head and making me so angry — where did that happy child disappear to?
Yesterday, I found the heart shaped tin, the one I put your baby teeth in, when everything was still before us, your story still unknown.
I have yet to decide about this.
Jennifer Harvey is a Scottish writer now living in Amsterdam. Her writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies in the UK and the USA and she has placed or been shortlisted for various prizes, including the Raymond Carver Short Story Prize, the Bridport Prize, the Bristol Prize, Bare Fiction Prize and the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition. You can find out more over at www.jenharvey.net or follow her on Twitter at @JenAnneHarvey.