I heard the wind howl and spied a winter wonderland out the window on my way to the bathroom. Still early, I burrowed back in bed and drifted off to sleep until a cold body wrapped itself around me. “Brrrr.”
My husband ran his icy hands down my back. “No work. No school. We’re officially snowed in.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Would I kid the kidder?”
I squealed like a grade schooler, “Ohhhh, snow day! What’ll we do?”
“Shhh…I have one idea,” he whispered in my ear.
A brainstorm came through our area along with the snowstorm. Such an occurrence rarely happens and caught me totally by surprise. I peeked into our walk-in closet, cringed, then grabbed up evidence.
“Uho,” he answered. “When you call me that, I know trouble’s close at hand.”
“You’re so funny. When was the last time we’ve cleaned out our closet?”
He shrugged his shoulders in an attempt to dissuade any further conversation.
“The answer is – never. We’ve lived here ten years and the poor thing is begging to be relieved.”
“Closets don’t beg; I hate to tell you.”
Not to be swayed I came back with a quick answer, “This one does and I have just the thing to prove it.” I placed a much worn item in front of his face.
He took it from me and held it lovingly. “My old FFA jacket.”
“Exactly… old and FFA being the key words. It’s time to get rid of it, Babe.”
“It’s part of my past, like a year book. Nope. Won’t.” He stood up from his recliner and stuffed one arm halfway into the sleeve. “See? Fits like a glove.”
“Oh, the jocularity. You oust it and I’ll get rid of something.”
“I get to choose?” The gleam in his eye scared me bad.
He ran down the hall. I hadn’t seen him move that fast since my incident with a towel and a microwave, resulting in fire.
Karl peered intently into the cave-like structure. “How about this?”
Ahhh…safe. “I was pitching that, anyway. A teen at school told me I looked like an old lady in it.”
“Oh good, saves me from telling you.”
“Whatever. My turn.” I dragged a stepstool so I could reach deep into the dark recesses. My fingers swept along until I felt ‘it’, the ‘it’ that had consumed me much of our twenty-five years of marital bliss. I got up on tip-toes and grabbed hold with both hands. “This is it, Babe. It’s time to get rid of the tin box.”
He wiped sweat from his forehead. “That’s not fair.”
“All’s fair in love and war, as you never fail to tell me.”
I opened the tin and pulled out a letter, with a faint smell of perfume even after years of anonymity. “Dear Karly,” I began to read aloud in a sing-songy voice.
“It doesn’t say that,” he corrected before he stole it out of my hands.
I riffled through the yellowed stationary. “I don’t keep my old love notes so I don’t know why you should. What’s the point?”
“For one thing, you didn’t have any old boyfriends. I was your first.”
I stopped him there, “Second.”
“Okay, second. Now you made me forget what I was saying.
“You were saying that it’s time for you to get rid of the goods, Bud.”
“Only if you get rid of a diary.”
“That’s different than a box full of love notes.”
“I happen to know of a certain one that has Brian’s picture in it.”
Brian, my only other boyfriend besides Karl. “You win. But,” I paused for dramatic effect, “let’s get rid of our past together.”
He nuzzled my neck in a manner he adopted since we’d become empty-nesters and could do whatever we wanted at whatever time or place we chose. “We need a fire.”
We sat close to the fireplace as sparks flew and sparks from the papers flew up the flue, too.
“Out-ting with the old makes me want to work on just the two of us kind of memories,” Karl said, “but first… in the interest of marriage preservation: from this day forward–let it be known that my side of the closet is mine.”
“Agreed.” I smiled because he only included closet in that declaration. I wondered how long it would take before he’d regret that. Already I began to think of how to broach the subject of cleaning his desk–our next snow day project.
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