a Women Writers' Showcase
Lost and Found
by Kitty Redding

The attic was a wonderland of objects gathering dust and waiting to be discovered.  They would have been there for even more years if events hadn’t taken an unexpected turn and forced Abi and her brother John to go up there.   Abi had been the first to push open the creaky trapdoor.  The cold stale air wafted out and encircled her.  She peered up.  Grabbing the ladder she poked it up through the hole and ascended.

‘I’m sure there was a light switch somewhere, is it down there?’ she shouted to John.  Her brother looked up at her squinting as dust and debris fell softly around him like snow from the open void.

‘I don’t remember,’ he answered vaguely looking around him for a switch.  He was much younger than his sister and could barely remember his father ever going into the attic.

‘It’s up here,’ Abi exclaimed leaning precariously forward out of the hole. The light snapped on,  ‘you can come up, it’s OK, it’s boarded.’ Looking around her she took a sharp intake of breath.

‘It’s full of stuff, I don’t believe it, I didn't even think they used it,’ she spluttered choking on the dust, ‘a lot of it is yours.  I can see your old train set.’   John was up there in a flash.  He didn’t want to miss out.

‘Move over, stop hogging all the space,’ he teased his sister. She shuffled over.  The attic was too low for either of them to stand but it was a fair size nevertheless and was packed.  John surveyed the view, which looked a bit like box city, and gave a low whistle.  Where would they start he thought?

‘Come on, let’s get on,’ Abi said beginning to open the first box, ‘I’ve got to pick the kids up at three.’

‘Maybe we should lift them down first,’ muttered John, ever practical.  It was too late, Abi was already pulling handfuls of miscellaneous items out of the first box.   These were mainly clothes, tiny ones, from when she and John were little.  She grabbed the box and looked at the label ‘good clothes – keep’ it said in her mother’s handwriting.

‘Keep for what?’ she exclaimed, ‘they didn’t want anymore kids, did they?’

‘Grandchildren?’ suggested John.  They giggled as she held them up they were
ridiculously out dated and looked like they belonged in a museum of the seventies.

‘I don’t think they would appreciate them somehow,’ she laughed, trying to imagine her fashion conscious six year old in a flowery dress with a lace collar.

They went deeper into the musty attic, moving aside boxes and reading the labels.  Everything had been carefully stacked and catalogued.

‘You get it from them you know,’ chided Abi.  John was fastidiously tidy and neat.  He scowled at her, not wanting to be reminded of this particular likeness to his parents.  He was always teased at work for his amazingly tidy desk.

‘What are we going to do with it all?’  He asked.

‘Sort it, take whatever we want and bin the rest,’ Abi said firmly, knowing it would be hard to throw anything away.

They lost themselves all afternoon searching through their parent’s saved memories.  Old school books in one box caused a great deal of discussion about prizes they had won, friends they had known and lost touch with, teachers they had shared and reports about them, ‘John needs to apply himself more in Maths,’ read John importantly. He laughed, ‘Maybe I should write to Mr what’s-his-name, oh Jones that was it and tell him I’m an accountant now.’

Another one contained old toys, obviously put there for safe keeping until another day, Abi knew her children would love these.

‘Mum kept all the birthday cards we sent her,’ Abi said amazed.  This was a
catalyst for a change of mood. Abi snivelled a little and John came over and put his arm around her.

‘Come on, we’ve nearly finished, just the attic and then we’re done. Why don’t we get these things out of here,’ he said soothingly.  He was right they had almost emptied the house.  They had done it quite quickly as they both wanted it over with.  Once it was finished the house would go on the market, they both dreaded that part.

‘It’s so unfair,’ Abi sobbed.

‘I know,’ John said in barely a whisper trying not to become emotional himself.  The worse part for him about clearing the house had been finding the instructions for the neighbour.  Just a hurried written note, ‘Feed the Twitch twice a day, bin on Mondays, water the tomato plants twice a week, thanks’ then underneath his mum’s name in her loopy handwriting. They’d only expected to be away for two weeks.  Just a holiday.  He didn’t know why but he’d pocketed the note, remembering the call that had come in the middle of the night.  John had known something was wrong when he’d heard the doorbell.  The policeman had been very kind but there was no easy way to tell someone about a car crash in a far off land was there?  John knew it had been harder on Abi, she had the children, he only had himself to look after.  He looked back at Abi still crying over the cards.

‘Come on,’ he said gently, ‘let’s get these things out of the attic, then wecan go for a drink.’  She smiled at him gratefully and while they carried the boxes down she mused over the close relationship they had rekindled since their parents’ death. When everything was done and their childhood home was sold they were both very grateful to their parents for storing up so many memories for them to hang on to.  John kept his train set and began to fix it together again saying it would be nice for his niece and nephews to play with when they visited, but secretly enjoying his new found hobby.  The rest of it was boxed up once again and with lots of tears and laughter it all went into Abi’s attic.

‘For my children to find one day,’ she’d quietly told John.

Kitty:  "I have written short stories for ages but I only recently started to send them out for publication.  I am currently writing a full length play with my writing partner and I have also written a couple of screenplays.  I am British and live in the heart of England."  Contact Kitty.