Jason Lawrence Bell
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09-29-19                AUDIO AVAILABLE SOON

     Phillip was sorting thru his home attic. Finally cleaning the large mess that accumulated over many years. Stacks of boxes and rows of full bookcases and piles of whatever filled the dusty space. Phillip made a rule: if it is not a family heirloom and he hasn’t use it in the past year, it goes to Goodwill. He started sorting thru the items in the middle of the room so he could clear a path to reach the outer areas. Christmas decorations were kept but his old suits that no longer fit him were labeled to go. He worked his way to stack of boxes that were labeled ‘History’.

     Phillip could not recall seeing these boxes before, but they needed to be sorted so he sat down and opened the first one. Immediately he recognized the top item. It was old hairbrush his mother always carried and he could see it still had strands of her hair in the bristles. Phillip felt a sadness inside as he thought of his mother. They always had a distance relationship and Phillip had blamed her for many things. He was never certain he even loved her.

      Phillip removed a strain of hair and examined it. Then the words came. ‘But I loved you. You were my first born and I was so unprepared. I was only twenty years old.’ Phillip sat up startled by the voice. ‘Mom it sounds like you. Your voice. Is that you?’ ‘Hi sweetie, I hope I’m not bothering you,’ said the voice. ‘No, mom, of course you’re not bothering me. How are you talking? And you can hear me? ‘Yes, honey, I can hear you. I don’t know how we’re talking. We just are. Please understand my life and abilities were limited by my abuses. I did the best I could, but I felt horrible that my best was seldom enough,’ the voice continued. ‘Mom, what abuses?’ Begged Phillip. ‘Childhood problems that never left me. My mom died when I was 8. My sisters were all competition for my father’s attention. I was usually last in line. I left home young because Dad was pushing sex on me. We were so poor that I had no self-confidence. I expected that life would not be good to me. It was better than I thought though,’ answered the voice. ‘Your Dad pushed sex on you?’ ‘That was common in those days. Men were always horny. But I want to talk about you. Please see I did my best.’ ‘Mom your best was good enough. All of your children turned out fine. I regret that we weren’t closer. I did judge you harshly. I compared you to super moms and set standards that you could never meet. I have often thought that somehow, we did not bond. I don’t know why. But I am so sorry I wasn’t a better son to you. Please forgive me, please,’ begged Phillip. Phillip could hear his mother’s voice fading to silence. He could not hear her answer. He held the hair strand tight and called her name. But no response. He put the brush back in the box and labeled the box to save. 

     Then he opened the second history box. It looked like old girlfriend’s and lovers’ items. On the top was a photo of Patricia and Phillip at the beach. Then a photo of Janie and Phillip at dinner. Also, a third photo of Carol and Phillip posing for a photographer. These were very familiar photos to Phillip. 

     In the photos the women looked sad. He didn’t remember them sad. His image looks happy. Then with each photo more images came into his imagination. He could see them each crying and he knew why. They all, at some time, learned that Phillip cheated on them with other women. Phillip remembered how much he cared for these ladies, but his shame overwhelmed him. Nothing could change his bad actions. 

     Then one last thing slammed Phillip. He realized that with each woman they had an abortion. Phillip felt like a user of the people he should have been the kindest too. He began to weep with regrets. Phillip stood up and closed the door of the attic. He began to realize the heaviness of events in his life. And the many times he wished he could have a chance to redo his actions. The attic will have to wait for another time when Phillip will find the strength to open the other history boxes. Peace