The chill and ease of the bent wood soothed my palms. The paint on the oval top—lit with color across a polished brown, before—had faded considerably, leaving the single five-petaled flower in its center muted and worn. Its two rows of encircling vines appeared more as bared shadows than the lush greenery they once were. I found a new seam—and ran my finger down it—a single crack between the slats. I caught and pulled at a splinter on the wood—delaying—until the silence waded heavy enough to drown the noise of memory, or until enough of the daylight receded from the busy damask walls surrounding me—so their patterns may no longer intrude.
Fingering the metal latches on the edges, I lifted the top of the hatbox—then stopped, leaving the lid suspended—imagining the contents as her—as the inside of a body, filling and plumping with a gasp of air.