by Helen Holmes
I can’t stop thinking about the things I left in his flat. My friends keep telling me, ‘Move on, Gracie, it’s only stuff.’ I know they’re right, but it nibbles away at my mind.
I wake in the night thinking about the egg-timer. We bought it in a junk-shop in Brighton the weekend we went down for that wedding. It has wooden ends and terracotta sand, and times the perfect boiled egg. Up-end it as egg hits boiling water for nursery paradise. Just enough time to get the marmite soldiers marshalled. That was the weekend we stumbled along the shingle at midnight, clutching each other for warmth and twisting our ankles as we looked for shooting stars.
I grieve for the Moleskine notebook he bought me last birthday. The perfect receptacle for my literary jottings, he said, passing it over the candles and champagne glasses. Such a waste: only half a dozen pages defiled by my inconsequential scribble.
We exclaimed over the clever concept of the perpetual calendar in that posh design shop the day he got his new job. No further need to scour the shops for acceptable twelve-month paper versions – Dufy (again) or depressing Hopper images. The perfect Christmas gift for all our friends – stylish, original, yet understated. Some friends turned out to be his, in the end.
I mourn my clarinet. My parents bought it, anxious to give me musical opportunity. Looming exams sealed its neglected fate. Now it’s lonely in its plush blue case, buried in my student trunk.
That trunk, key lost, lock forced, symbol of my future – we draped it in a kilim in our bedroom.
If his new woman is an egg-eating, clarinet-playing, deadline-watching writer with storage problems, she’ll be well set up – bitch.
Helen Holmes lives in rural Northumberland and writes fiction and non-fiction.