Monday, October 19, 2009

Steamer Trunks - Writing exercise

The steamer trunks resided in one of the unused farmhouses on the estate. In the center of the attic floor highlighted by light streaming in from the single window, they waited. Our friends, my husband and I were drawn to them like moths to a flame. A childhood dream of finding abandoned treasure, two trunks full overtook us at once. The rest of the house was void of personal belongings; just these two steamer trunks filling the immense attic. Temptation - temptation filled us to open them. Ravage, pillage, carry off, invaders throughout history had no problem with booty, bounty, loot.
Mine was the only voice who questioned ownership of the trunks. The others were too intent on forcing the locks to bother answering me. Nimble fingers prying seeking to assault the rusted devices. Mumbling to themselves, they bent to their task. Frantic in their haste to spring open the prize, my husband and his friend redoubled their efforts. Malnourished children prying open the locked pantry door to stop their driving hunger, not thinking beyond their immediate needs.
First one trunk, then the other was attacked by the treasure seekers. Twisting, forcing the screwdriver under the lock plate, success met at last by the grating sound of the lock flange releasing. Treasure revealed. Hastily heaped on the floor, the discards raised clouds of dust in their flight. Items stored for safe keeping, someone’s life treasure irreverently pawed through, strewn about by curiosity, stolen by greedy hands; precious pieces of someone’s time gone in minutes.
A fever had swept over us upon entering the attic and seeing those illuminated trunks. The disease consumed us overruling common sense, encouraged us to sneak away with stolen prizes. The others were all for leaving it destroyed, wounds agape subject to further attack by rodents seeking shelter. Scattered belongings forlorn at the disrespect given them.
My sense came back as I reverently folded and placed the discards back into some semblance of order. Not even close to the order that we found them in. Never could I equal the fondness in which the owner lovingly tucked her belongings into the trunk, however long ago; softly touching each item, each memory that needed to be put into storage.
I felt dirty, not because of the dusty attic or stale air. I felt dirty in my being for having invaded an unknown woman’s memories. Empty of meaning, I put my spoils back. A fever dream, a nightmare, I understood mass thinking; the crowd mentality which attacks integrity with a ferocious appetite when all hell breaks loose.

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