Boxes and Boxes

One day, my neighbours were gone. I returned to home to find their flat empty. My wife saw them leave. She called to tell me that a van had parked up outside, that our neighbours had spent the whole evening moving box after box downstairs. I asked if she had seen any clue to the kind of lives they lived. ‘There were only boxes,’ she replied. ‘Boxes and boxes. That was all.’

‘And one more thing,’ she said. ‘They left their keys for the landlord.’ She showed me a simple brown envelope, sealed at the top. ‘What do you think?’

‘About what?’

‘About going upstairs? To check out the flat.’ 

‘Why?’

‘If it’s better than ours, we can maybe move upstairs.’

‘I don’t think that’s a good idea. It’s an abuse of trust.’

‘Whose trust?’ She stared at me incredulously. ‘Why are you so scared?’

We stood facing each other, almost, I realised, in confrontation. My wife tore open the envelope. ‘You can stay up here if you like,’ she said. ‘I’m going upstairs.’ 

from ‘The Days We Lived Like Them’ published in Brittle Star 45, November 2019

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