...with this story:
“Get your ass in here.”
I was staring down at a stack of Milton Bradley boardgames still wrapped in plastic, price tags intact. Monopoly. Scrabble.
“Rebecca. Seriously. You have to see this.”
I gently lowered the games into a cardboard box, closed the lid, and joined her in the hall. She unscrewed the bottle of Makers and handed it to me.
“Drink. I got the mother load.”
We drank every time we found one. We called them, “our little souvenirs.” We’d already finished half the bottle. I found the last one, a faded Siouxsie and the Banshees t-shirt, black gone to gray, Souixsie’s cracked white eyes that reminded me so much of Patricia’s.
She was Patricia now that she was dead.
I looked down at the bottle. The circle of light reflected in the glass was the morning sun. It had forced its way into the apartment. We had been packing since 11. I brought the Makers to my lips, took a pull, and didn’t notice the burn of the alcohol.
She handed me the box. It had an Amazon logo and remnants of torn packing tape on the sides.
“It was in the hall closet. Top shelf. Behind a crate of cleaning supplies. Under a stack of paper bags. She went to a lot of trouble.” She hiccuped a quick laugh. It sounded like a foreign language to me. One that I didn’t know, but could almost place.
I folded back the lid. At first I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. A riot of shiny colors and shapes. Pinks, and blues. Rounded. Globular. A box of exotic life. Sea cucumbers. Tube worms. Translucent creatures dredged up from the deepest parts of the ocean. The parts that sunlight isn’t supposed to reach.
I opened my mouth, intent on saying something, but I couldn’t think of what.
Sex toys. The box was full of Patricia’s vibrators. Her dildos. Strap-ons.
“This is probably one of those things that we should get out of here. Before Mr. and Mrs. A. show up, right?”
Patricia’s parents were Orthodox. Not that the cancer had cared about that.
“I’m sorry. I just keep hearing Patty’s voice.”
She imitated Patricia then, not the sickly little girl whisper her voice had become, but the full-throated Long Island squawk that had always made me tense my jaw.
“If I could come that way, I wouldn’t need the batteries.”
We both laughed then, hard, and loud. The sound of it ricochetting off the walls, dislodging the dust, freeing it to dance in the encroaching sunbeams. Laughed until our voices caught, and we had to wipe the tears from our eyes. Laughed until our bodies shuddered. We clung to each other, and rode out the convulsions, unsure where the laughs began, and the sobs ended.
We finished the bottle in the basement. The super had shown us the hole. The deepest, darkest place in the building. He said he didn’t know where it led.
We held them up, dangling them between our fingers, Patricia’s toys. We toasted them. A shot of whiskey for each one. And then we sent them off with a little salute. Opened our fingers, and let them go, to sink back into the blackness.