It’s a Sunday afternoon - another boring afternoon in which I have nothing to do. I mean, Saturday’s hard enough as it is – Dad lecturing me about having a friend over (like that’s ever going to happen; I need to actually make one first); Maizy running into my room every five seconds with her cute little rabbit asking for carrots, because otherwise she’ll starve, and me, just walking around my room attempting so many ways to entertain myself, though ending up lying like a starfish on my bed. Welcome to my life.
So when my Dad comes in this morning asking me to get up and do something, you could guess my reaction.
“Like what?” I demand.
He sighs, like he doesn’t know what to do with me anymore. “You could play with Maizy?”
“No way. She’s crazy.”
“And she’s your sister.”
My Dad walks into my room and lightly sits on the end of my bed. I wish he’d ask sometimes, instead of just welcoming himself in.
“Why don’t you check out the basement?” His suggestion is the lamest thing I could ever think of.
“The basement?” I say, before scratching my chin, “As interesting as that sounds, I think I’ll have to pass.”
“C’mon, Bella,” he insists, looking at me disappointedly, “You might find some interesting stuff down there.”
My look is intended to get him to back off, but he doesn’t budge a bit. Instead, he scoots closer to me and smiles apologetically.
“We’ve put a lot of stuff up there over the years,” he explains, “Stuff from when you were a baby - photo albums, collages – and I’m sure you could find some of your Mum’s belongings…”
I get up immediately and start on my way out the door.
“Where are you going?” My Dad asks, worried. I turn back, smiling.
“To the basement – duh.”
I can almost hear his sigh of relief.
Clambering down the steps, I take the torch off the ledge by the door and slot in the key. The knob is freezing cold on the bare skin of my palm but it’s only a moment before I’ve let go and I’m inside. My hand feels around for the hanging piece of string which I then pull to turn on the lights. It takes a while before they spring to life and I’m left looking at a room full of boxes and old furniture.
Great. This could take a while to find what I want.
Rummaging through the boxes though, seconds, minutes, hours fly past. From baby pictures to wedding photos I find myself marvelling over the past, taking it in and thinking back to those times. I wish I could go back more than anything. I wish I could go back so I could prevent Mum from going out that night instead of seeing the doctors; prevent those nurses and doctors from constantly and desperately trying to put her back together when it was too late; prevent my family from sitting beside her in streaks of tears as she just…dissappeared. I wish I could go back to change everything because then I could have the chance to be the perfect daughter, and not have turned out how I am now because of it.
Shaking this out of my mind, I let my eyes wander around the room, beyond the boxes and to the furniture laid astray. It’s then that my eyes meet the desk in the far corner, old and dusty and left to rot. But it isn’t the desk that shines upon me; it’s what lies on top. Scrambling my way through the boxes I’m then standing before it, leaning down to look at the intricate buttons and the way I see letters, just faintly, written out across each one. Delicately brushing my fingers across and bringing them to the light, I see no dust remains on my finger. Confused, I do the same again, but I get the same result.
After a few minutes of contemplating what to do, I decide not to burden my Father with questions. Instead I brush off the dust of the wooden chair before it, and sit down. Looking closely, I notice the date on this vintage object – 1967. The day my Mother was born.
I smile thinking about her, wondering if she ever used this typewriter, wondering if maybe Dad used it instead. But now’s when I find my answer. Now’s when I suddenly notice the paper lying in the typewriter. Brushing my hands clean, I carefully pick out the old papers from inside and realise there’s a page or so of writing.