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  • Writer's pictureDana Starr

I Was Wrong

I can't stop thinking about what's living in my attic. It is up there; I know it, and it knows I know it. What does it look like? I simply can't put this off for another day, month, year. I must do this now. What I need is in the attic, but it is too. Of course, I could just go to the store and buy what I need, but that would require putting on a bra, and driving, and walking up and down aisles full of people filled with good cheer. Christmas annoys the hell out of me. I can't handle good cheer right now, so up I must go. By the third step, I've lost my bravado. Hesitating is bad. Hesitating gives me time to ponder if it will be waiting for me at the top of the stairs. It will probably be angry at being disturbed. I've often wondered what it does up there all day and night. I hear it moving about, especially after dark when the house is quiet and still. Will I scare it? Will it run and hide? There's only one way to find out.

The beam of the flashlight cuts through the gloom. I can't see it, but I can hear it sighing in the corner behind me. Blindly reaching for the string hanging before me, I yank and the attic is flooded with light. I want to turn around and face it, but I can't. I'm frozen with fear. It is moving, coming closer. Turn around, turn around. I have to face it. Adrenaline is coursing through me; sweat is pouring off me. The urge to run is powerful, but there's no place to run. There's nothing to do, but turn and face IT. Spinning around with the flashlight in my hand, poised to strike, I face it and burst out laughing. It is a vent hanging loose and flapping. I could cry from relief if I wasn't laughing so hard. I'm exhausted. Going to the store would've been easier.

I want to find the box of Christmas stockings. That's no easy task. There's lots of boxes up here, and insulation, and cobwebs. The first box I open is full of old record albums from the '70s. Helen Reddy's face is beaming at me. I am woman, hear me roar. If I have to, I can face anything (even the horrifying flapping vent). I am strong (strong). I am invincible (invincible). I am woman. I vividly recall standing in front of the mirror at 14; singing into my hairbrush at the top of my lungs. I wasn't wearing a bra then either. I thought I would be young forever. I was wrong.

The next box I explore is full of baby clothes. These belonged to my two boys when their cheeks were chubby and smooth as silk. This was long before they had their own lives. Long before they stopped looking at me with pure adoration in their eyes. Long before they stopped needing me. I pull a tiny blue and white pair of footie pajamas out of the box. There's bunny rabbits on it. Sticking the pajamas in my face, I take a deep breath. It doesn't smell like anything. I don't know what I expected, but I still remember the sweet smell of their soft baby skin. I thought they would be babies forever. I was wrong.

Finally, I find the stockings in the third box I open. As I pull each one out of the box, I see, through misty eyes, the sparkly names glued on with glitter, and I have to catch my breath. These are the names of family members, and even pets, long gone from us. Some are gone by choice, but most are gone because it was their time not their choice. I thought they'd be with us forever. I was wrong.

But, they really are with us in spirit. No, we can't see them, but believe me, they're with us and we're with them. I know I'm not wrong about that.

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