Janet knew today would be difficult. She knew. It doesn’t change things, though. she thought, as she carried the garage sale sign to the front yard. If only Carter could be... No. Today, of all days, was not the time to think like an old widow. She positioned the sign and began tapping it into the ground. A passing car slowed and turned into the driveway even before the sign was driven deeply enough to be secure. Well, there’s no backing out now. She tapped the last tap and started back to the garage. Let’s get it over.
She approached the neatly arranged tables that contained a lifetime of treasures with trepidation. A young man was roughly striking each key of her Underwood typewriter.
“Would you take less for the old thing?” He was actually serious. Janet smiled sweetly, trying to hide the fact that her teeth were grinding as she responded.
“That’s an antique, sir.” Her fingers gently touched the keys. How could I take less? This typewriter was my high school graduation gift in 1968.
“I just need something my bang on instead of ruining my computer keypad. Would you take five for it?”
“Sure. Like you said, it’s old.” She swallowed… hard.
Janet caught herself holding her breath as she watched the man carry her precious memory to his car as literally toss it into the back seat. Toughen up, girl. You won’t get through the day this way.
“Do you need help getting those to the car?” Janet hadn’t noticed her sister’s arrival. Thank God, she thought, Carol, you are a life saver.
The next several hours were hectic. Nearly everyone wanted the pieces of her life for a drastically reduced price. More and more, Janet was letting Carol talk to the people. Janet’s primary function was taking the paltry sums from the people and putting it in a make-shift cash box. At least she didn’t have to hear all the comments about her life-pieces. She just had to put them in sacks and watch the strangers carry them away.
Though she tried to quiet her memories for the day she still found herself riding a mental time machine with each item sold. There was the lawn frog that was the inspiration for her most popular book of children’s stories. A hail storm had shattered one leg so she understood selling that one for less. Still, it hurt. Then she watched the loveseat get loaded into an old pickup. She and Carter had watched many a flame flicker in the fireplace while sitting quietly, simply enjoying being with each other. She watched the desk, the file cabinets, the extra computer as they made the march to someone else’s home. Oh, Lord, help me make it through this day.
The sale was a must. She knew that. There would be no room in the retirement home for so much… oh, what an evil word… so much junk. She had lived a good life with Carter. They had both found a level of success in their chosen fields as writers. He had specialized in writing for magazines and she, of course, had her following in children’s literature. This sale was bringing an all-to-clear understanding to what her life as a writer had been. By the end of the day she had watched every precious item they had owned slip away from her. Things. she thought. They are just things. I’ll take what is truly precious with me to the home.
She put the last item in the last sack and silently said goodbye to the ‘stuff’. A tear made its way down her cheek for the first time but it was quickly wiped away. She finally understood the difference that had eluded her about life. This sale was the proof.
You can buy things gathered from living a writer’s life, even at a reduced price, but nothing can touch the priceless memories created by a writer living.
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